He Took Her Identity, He Tweeted, Now He Talks
On April 10th, I got an email from someone named Adam Robb. He was responding to a posting I had written about famous food folks who twitter, some real and some fake. Adam was one of the fakes. He tweets under the name “restaurantgirl.” In the section on Twitter where you put your name, he has written his as Danyelle Freeman.
In response to my posting, Adam wrote “I never intended to confuse anyone, I really thought from the first Tweet that people would know it’s a joke, that they didn’t seems to say a lot about their expectations of the real RG.”
Meant to be a parody of the Daily News food critic Restaurant Girl, the real Danyelle Freeman apparently does not think this is funny at all and has sent the real Adam (whose name is actually Adam Robb Rucinsky) a cease & desist letter from a fancy Beverly Hills law firm. The letter states: “Please be advised that our client has no record of having granted rights to the Trademark or the use of Freeman’s name and likeness in connection therewith.”
Adam and I have been emailing back and forth since he first wrote to me. In one email he acknowledged that Danyelle is likely not into his take on her, “I guess she would be mad but she’s really an inspiration. I’m a writer first and a foodie second and I just think this character of RestaurantGirl she developed is full of such untapped potential so when I mock, I mock RG and not Danyelle Freeman.”
Adam, as restaurantgirl, currently has 362 followers on Twitter, including two New York Times writers. (By the time you read this, the number of followers will have changed).
This morning, one of those writers, Kim Severson bestowed fame on the 30-year-old New Jersey microblogger with a sizeable article in the New York Times dining section. So, I called Adam to get his take on being in the spotlight.
“I don’t know what to make of it” Adam said. He was excited for his family and friends to see the story about him. Now that he may get sued, will he stop tweeting as Restaurant Girl? “No. Maybe when it gets old and isn’t as fresh.” Has he ever met or spoken with Danyelle Freeman? “Never met her. Never spoken with her. ” He does wonder when that day will come when he gets trapped in an elevator with her. What would he say to her? “ That she is an inspiration to me. If she really cares about what she’s doing and isn’t doing it for the money, then she should be flattered.” He does link to her articles in his tweets. Why? “So she can get the advertising clicks.” Adam defends his choice to parody Restaurant Girl and actually puts the blame on her. “She chose to become a public figure, rather than reviewing anonymously. If she hadn’t put her photo and didn’t want to be known… no other restaurant critic does that.” He is also critical of Danyelle’s writing. “She traded access for quality. And I just think it’s funny she has an editorial staff of five to write four posts a week – her writers even follow the RG Twitter – and yet it’s overwhelmed by false information, like saying Junior’s is in Queens and not Brooklyn, and littered with typos and grammatical errors that never get noticed.”
Ironically, Adam says he would have ceased writing immediately if Danyelle had reached out to him in the beginning. “ If she had contacted me personally and said this hurts my feelings, I would have stopped.” On Adam’s home Twitter page he adds: This Twitter is an unaffiliated parody of Danyelle Freeman, the real Restaurant Girl who can be found at restaurantgirl.com. She’s not this clever or ambitious.
Is it a parody? Is it even funny? Should people be allowed to take on other people’s identities for their own gain? Should Twitter police the fakes? Adam’s postings are somewhat innocent, but at times cruel and mocking. Why can’t Adam be funny as Adam? And do followers feel betrayed when they realize they are following someone who isn’t the “real deal.” I have followed and unfollowed Adam as restaurantgirl a few times. I, for one, felt weird when I first discovered he was not she. However, once the food blogs started writing about the fake RG, I became more intrigued. But, honestly, I’d be super peeved if someone started writing as me.