Having grown up in the newspaper industry in Florida I’ve seen the Florida Man phenomena my entire life. This went on to local news of the weird sections ran weekly for us natives going back to the 80’s. Jerry Springer did his freaking movie based in Florida. The popular radio and cable television show Loveline had a game called “Germany or Florida” where they read insane headlines and people had to guess where it originated.
I started my first Florida Man Facebook page 8 years ago. It’s been deleted numerous times (hey, haters are gonna hate) but we just make new ones and go back to doing what we find fun.
Here’s an article questioning whether we should make fun of Florida Man or not.
Sporting a buzz cut, prison blues and a chin-strap beard, the slim 24-year-old Floridian Brandon Hatfield leans sideways in a rolling office chair inside the St. Johns County Jail. With a warm Southern drawl and a crooked smirk, he says, “I remember half of what happened … and half of what didn’t.”
Hatfield finds it hard to separate the fact from the fiction of what took place on the night of Nov. 5, 2018, for a few reasons. That night, at a Best Western not far from the Fountain of Youth theme park in St. Augustine, Florida, America’s oldest city, he was drinking Jack Daniel’s. He’s sure the bourbon led to smoking weed, but he’s not as clear on how that led to fentanyl, Ecstasy and whatever else ended up in his toxicology report.
He remembers the rest of the night in “blackout splatches,” which have since mixed with the stories he’s heard about himself: how he jumped into a crocodile pool at a local zoological park after hours, got bit by an American crocodile, and barely escaped with his life – but not his Crocs shoes, which were found floating in the water the next day. Next thing he knew, he was waking up “at the hospital shackled to a bed with my foot gnawed off.”
Another reason Hatfield finds it hard to separate the “half of what happened” from the “half of what didn’t”: When he woke up, he wasn’t himself anymore. Much as an arachnid bite changed Peter Parker into Spider-Man, that crocodile chomp transformed Brandon Hatfield into Florida Man. His tale was being retweeted around the world: “Florida Man Wearing Crocs Gets Bitten After Jumping Into Crocodile Exhibit at Alligator Farm.”
Since Florida Man was first defined on Twitter in 2013 as the “world’s worst superhero,” many men (and it’s almost always men) have assumed the mantle. He is a man of a thousand tattooed faces, a slapstick outlaw, an Internet-traffic gold mine, a cruel punchline, a beloved prankster, a human tragedy and, like some other love-hate American mascots, the subject of burgeoning controversy.
Most memes – from planking to Tide Pods – fizzle fast. Florida Man has only grown stronger. There are so many stories about men like Hatfield that a “Florida Man Challenge” went viral this March, in which millions of people Googled their birth dates and “Florida Man,” finding a near-endless list of real news headlines for all 365 days of the year:
“Florida Man Steals $300 Worth of Sex Toys While Dressed as Ninja.”
“Florida Man Tries to Pick Up Prostitute While Driving Special Needs School Bus.”
“Florida Man Drinks Goat Blood in Ritual Sacrifice, Runs for Senate.”
The meme has grown beyond the inside jokes of Twitter and Reddit, spawning scores of late-night comedy routines, queues of podcasts, multiple band names, an episode of the FX show “Atlanta,” an “X-Files” comic book, a documentary and, soon, a docuseries from the producers of “Get Out.”
At its most comical, the Florida Man phenomenon encapsulates the wildness of both America and the Internet. At its most salacious, it’s a social-media update on the true-crime TV of “America’s Dumbest Criminals” and the gallows humor of tabloid headlines. At its most insensitive, Florida Man profits by punching down at the homeless, drug-addicted or mentally ill. Florida Man has become an American folk hero with all the contradictions of his predecessors, who, from John Henry to Buffalo Bill, were always a mix of what Hatfield calls the “half of what happened” and “half of what didn’t.” What those old folk tales and our new viral memes have in common is that they tend to reveal more about the kind of stories we want to share than the people they’re ostensibly about.
I’ve laughed at headlines like “Florida Man Arrested for Calling 911 After His Cat Was Denied Entry Into Strip Club.” I’ve gawped at stories like “Florida Man Removes Facial Tattoos With Welding Grinder.” But over the years I’ve also started to get a queasy feeling of complicity when I click on headlines that play up the quirks of horrific crimes for Web traffic, like “A Florida Man Beat His Daughter For 40 Minutes While Listening To Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines,’ ” a 101-word BuzzFeed story that found room to tastelessly embed the supermodel-studded music video.
For the rest of the article including an interview with the guy who claims to have started it all go check out this like here. https://m.sfgate.com/lifestyle/article/Is-it-OK-to-laugh-at-Florida-Man-14096275.php?fbclid=IwAR21IHUHMFgpv1MnxGSD2Gn3Drp5gNm-NSEE4Z2ymEjTTc-Cd47MhOJIJNs