A new video service called Cameo was launched in April 2018 with the intent of allowing celebrities to record short, personalized videos for fans. The service includes a stable of athletes with a wide range of varying relevance, all of whom you can hear say your name in exchange for a quick payment.
Those videos could be something like a personal greeting, a birthday shout-out or a holiday celebration. Apparently, they could also be a assortment of coded, anti-semitic language meant to validate white supremacists.
A report from Buzzfeed on Friday revealed that a group of white supremacist YouTubers have been using Cameo to dupe celebrities into endorsing racial messages and conspiracy theories. That group of celebrities reportedly includes comedian Andy Dick, rapper Soulja Boy and, most notably, Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre.
Brett Favre accidentally records video rife with anti-semitic language
For a fee of $500, Favre’s going rate on Cameo, two alt-right trolls reportedly submitted instructions for a video that were approved by Favre. The Hall of Fame quarterback then recorded himself saying the following:
“Brett Favre here with a shoutout to the Handsome Truth and the GDL boys,” Favre said in the shaky video. “You guys are patriots in my eyes. So keep waking them up and don’t let the small get you down. Keep fighting too and don’t ever forget the USS Liberty and the men and women who died on that day. God bless and take care.”
While the text of that video might raise an eyebrow at first glance, it’s also not hard to see how Favre might have skimmed the instructions and not realized what he was doing.
Here’s a quick run-down of the codes used in that transcript, according to Buzzfeed.
GDL and the Handsome Truth are the white supremacists that paid for the video
“waking them up” obviously means recruiting for the alt-right
“the small” refers to “small hats,” a slur for yarmulke
the USS Liberty is a US vessel fired upon by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War in 1967, killing 34. Israel later apologized and said its pilots thought they were firing on an Egyptian ship, but the incident has predictably become a pet cause for anti-semitic activists.
The video has since been taken down by Cameo and multiple copies of it have been removed from YouTube, but it reportedly lives on through anti-semitic message boards. Buzzfeed said it had viewed the video, but opted to not publish it, as that would validate the people who wanted the video to go viral.
Brett Favre says he’s ‘sickened’ by white supremacists, donates Cameo fee
The whole incident got its perpetrators a pat on the back in the white supremacist community as the video spread into dark corners of the internet. Cameo released a statement denouncing their actions and claiming its was the first time something like this had happened in the company’s history:
“On or about November 22nd, Cameo talent received requests that appeared to be aimed at supporting the American military. After recording the videos Cameo learned that the request came from an anti-Semitic group and contained content that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic,” Cameo said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“This was a blatant misuse of the Cameo platform and a violation of Cameo’s terms of service. This is the first incident of its kind in more than 93,000 Cameos and a gross misrepresentation of the talent’s political beliefs,” the statement continued. “Cameo immediately removed the videos from the website, requested YouTube to remove the content and created new filters to prevent this from happening in the future. The user has been banned from purchasing Cameos.”
When reached for comment by Buzzfeed, representatives for Dick and Soulja Boy reportedly said that both men were misled and do not share the beliefs of the people who requested the video.
Favre released a statement on Saturday saying something similar, recounting how he thought he was fulfilling a request to support a group of veterans and was later “distressed” to learn the truth. He said he was “sickened” by the beliefs of the groups that had tricked him and would be donating his $500 cameo fee to charities fighting hate and bigotry.
The full statement:
On November 22, I received a request to record a shout-out supporting what appeared to be a U.S. veterans organization for Cameo, a company that enables consumers to book personalized video greetings from celebrities. I had previously fulfilled more than 50 of these requests without incident. Since I match service dogs with military veterans who have PTSD, I assumed that the request stemmed from my interest in veterans affairs and recorded the message.
A few days later, I was distressed to learn that the request came from an anti-Semitic group that reposted my video with comments implying that I endorsed their mission. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am therefore donating my $500 Cameo fee to Charities supporting their fight against hate and bigotry.
Like most Americans, I am sickened by what these groups stand for and concerned about their role in fueling today’s negative political climate. The Cameo request from this organization is a prime example of how these groups are misusing social media to promote their agenda. I thought I was creating a message to support the brave men and women of our military forces. Had I understood the source of the request, I never would have fulfilled it. All of us – myself included – need to be vigilant to protect this country from these dangers.
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