Earlier this week, it emerged that Axl Rose had issued Google with several DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notices over a particularly unflattering image of himself wearing a big red bandana, billowing white shirt and a facial expression that can only be described as constipated. The photo, originally taken at a Canadian concert, has since been the object of amusement for an abundance of meme-makers, and Axl -- to say the least -- is not terribly pleased about it. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, just pop “Fat Axl meme” into a Google Image search and wait for the food puns to start rolling in.
Are the memes mean? Of course they are. Are they fatist? You betcha. Are they another example of internet bullying? That one is debatable. There are a multitude of people who believe that, if one chooses to be in the spotlight and readily accepts all of the benefits that come from fame, one must take the bad with the good.
According to a 2013 report from CelebrityNetWorth.com, Axl Rose, that year, was worth $150 million. With the key players from the original Guns N’ Roses line up back together and starting a tour later this month, that sum is set to increase even further. Which makes it all the more difficult to feel sorry for Monsieur Rose, especially given his historically well-documented penchant for tantrums and bad behavior.
In addition, the great irony of all this legal action is that people who’d never even seen the “Fat Axl” memes are now having their attention pointedly drawn to them, and people who had forgotten about them are now returning to have another giggle at the expense of a very rich, very famous, rather easily annoyed person. A legal action to get some unfortunate pictures taken down from the internet is, in 2016 terms, the ultimate in self-indulgence and ego-mania. If half the world didn’t already think Axl Rose was a bit of a whiny baby, it certainly does now.
Of course, Axl Rose isn’t the first star to attempt to destroy photos of himself he doesn’t like, and he won’t be the last. Actor and 30 Seconds to Mars frontman Jared Leto, went to extraordinary lengths to wipe some old photos of himself from our consciousness back in 2013. One of the pictures he was upset about featured him posing shirtless, shaggy chin-length ‘90s hair tousled around his face, with arms embracing a bunch of lilies as if they were a newborn infant. We’d direct you to that image, but, astoundingly, Leto succeeded in wiping it off the face of the earth. (Which, if you ever did see that photo, is rather devastating, because of how incredibly hilarious it was.) Rest assured, if you have a copy of that picture and you try to put it online, Jared Leto will come after you for copyright infringement.