How would you feel about MySpace’s demise if you were one of those people who spent all of your free waking hours adding “friends” and tweaking your page to the point where you were legitimately, kinda internet-famous? What if, in other words, you were a Scene Queen?
The Scene Queens were a group of teenage girls who became absurdly prominent on MySpace around 2005. Before they discovered social media, they were just scene girls—losers, confused kids whose bangs overshadowed half their faces and who wore awful conglomerations of clothing from Sanrio, Pac Sun, and Hot Topic (cat ears, neon bikinis, and leather boots).
In previous generations, if you were stuck being a social outcast at school, you’d have to tolerate the mockery of your peers, slouch in a corner, and dream of fleeing to some larger city where you could ditch your humiliating coming-of-age years and finally get appreciated. But with MySpace, these girls could take on new identities with just a keyboard and a digital camera.
In 2006 Kiki Ostrenga, a young girl in South Florida, took on an alliterative nickname, Kiki Kannibal, and decorated her page with cat pictures and softcore porn self-portraits. The clash between Hello Kitty and lingerie attracted hundreds of thousands of teenage followers (and, presumably, some dirty old men) to her MySpace page, transforming her from a scene girl into Scene Queen.
Since this is the internet, it only took a year for thousands of her “friends” to call her a slut and thousand of others to create their own nicknames and copy her scene style in real life—first came Kiki’s Florida brethren— Hilary Haywire, Rainbow Kittie, and Melissa Malice—and then a wave of others nationwide.
The Scene Queens spent their time as microcelebrities gossiping about each other in chat rooms and occasionally taking photos together, which they later posted on MySpace. Whether the gossipy, backstabbing frenemy dynamic was cynical pro-wrestling-style fakery or just the way teen girls normally behave, it bred controversy, which brought more kids to the MySpace pages. And the more popular they got, the more people talked about them, which made them more popular, and so on. The teenaged girls, unsurprisingly, loved the attention.
Pretty soon, the girls were trying to monetize their unearned fame: Kiki Kannibal started selling jewelry and making music, while Hilary Haywire declared herself a model. At the time, Lily Allen had just turned her MySpace notoriety into a recording career, fangirls referred to the Scene Queens as “MySpace icons,” and several of the girls hailed from South Florida, the same region that raised famous weirdos like Johnny Depp and Janice Dickenson—it seemed semi-plausible that the girls would become the next Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.
Alas, the internet is fickle. Except for Hannah Beth, who became a blogger, and Victoria Murder, who works as a tattoo artist model, the Scene Queens made no money off their fame. In 2007 and 2008, as MySpace users switched to Facebook and Twitter en-masse, they failed to bring their obsession with the Scene Queens with them. (Or maybe they just grew up.)
The girls tried to adapt, but it didn’t go so well. For instance, in 2007, Hilary Haywire posted a YouTube video of her eating strawberries with Rainbow Kittie, a lesser-known scene queen. It’s only gotten 20,000 views, which is nothing compared to most “fat people falling” videos, which have two million hits. It’s also incredibly unentertaining. “We’re basically going to sit here and do nothing, cause that’s what we do best,” Hillary says to the camera.
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