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That Protest Against Next To Normal‘s Alice Ripley? It Was a PhD Student’s Social Experiment

After Next To Normal‘s Alice Ripley used the word “fag” on her Facebook page, and promptly apologized for it, some theater queens were supposedly going to protest the Broadway actress outside her stage door. Didn’t happen.

“Walked by the booth….VERY quiet….I doubt there r any idiots going to protest Alice Ripley,” tweeted one passerby of Thursday’s supposed protest. That makes sense, since the protest was organized not by actual outraged theater gays, but a PhD student working on her thesis. Seriously.

“Not only did no one show up for the protest, but the reason it was being organized had nothing to do with defending the gay and lesbian community against a slur,” reader Lisa tips us. “Ms. Ripley just happened to be the actor caught up in the organizer’s calculating set up, in the name of research, religion, and recruiting. It could have been anyone.” Well, anyone who used a nasty word on their Facebook page, but still.

The user “isntitromantic” started a thread on BroadwayWorld.com titled “stage door demo for Ripley’s FAG slur Thurs. at 10 pm.” There, she wrote:

Bring your “Alice Hates Fags” signs a la Fred Phelps to Shubert Alley Thursday night at 10. Homophobia will not be tolerated in the theater community. Spread the word. Queers unite against Crazy.

Eventually the thread exploded to 26 pages of rants, including messages from critics and supporters, with some religious nonsense thrown in. But it was all a ruse, as isntitromantic would eventually come clean on June 9, the day before the supposed protest.

Folks, its time for me to come out of the closet and reveal myself.

I am a PhD candidate in psychology doing my part of my doctoral thesis on the long term effects of anonymous internet use on posters who share a common interest, i.e., Broadway or a particular performer. (I have always been partial to Miss Bujold myself, Phyllis).

I posted the intitial post about the rally to:

a. see whether such a thing would happen
b. bring in the Christian thread with the avatar
c. see how the fans/non-fans of a celebrity of Ms. Ripley’s stature would react and interact
d. see what other issues would come up.

(The M&M thing was quite delightful).

I would like to interview some of you personally about your responses and feeling about things that were posted on this thread. Please message me if you would be willing to speak with me.

For the record, I was not overly familar with Ms. Ripley’s work with the exception of Sideshow, but I did find her use of a slur distasteful. I saw the show last night and explained who I was. She has agreed to be interviewed and understood completely what I was attempting to do.

Please message me if you would like to be interviewed as well.

In an earlier (and perhaps foreboding) post, isntitromantic posted this, now clearly a way to charge up the web mobs:

I’ve prayed over this and all the pain this has caused Ms. Ripley. Dennis Shepard, at the sentencing of Matthew’s killer, Aaron McKinney said to him “remember you had the opportunity and the ability to stop your actions that night.” Ms. Ripley also had that opportunity before she hit the return to post her hate talk. We are responsible for our actions when they affect other people. I think, from what I have read, Ms. Ripley must be a good person, if somewhat bewildered.
And now, I’m going to call Jason Bennett because I want him to coach me on Rodgers and Sondheim’s “We’re Gonna Be Alright.” Thank God I’ve found him. The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

So as it turns out, there was no protest, because its organizer revealed him/herself to be a fraud with an academic agenda. I’m curious to see what her PhD adviser would think about such tactics — where she purposefully targeted a public figure and instigated rage against her just to test the waters. (Does somebody really need to write a thesis about Internet commenters and their proven crazy?)

And I stand by my original declaration that the protest against Ripley was a stupid idea to begin with. Instead, fault the woman for not knowing who each of the Golden Girls are. Now that is a real sin against the gays. (Cue to 9:34)