10 years and over 1 billion views later, Ghyslain Raza aka “Star Wars Kid” has broken his longtime silence in an interview with Canadian publication Maclean’s. The issue, which is on shelves today, details Raza’s struggle as one of the internet’s most highly-ridiculed viral phenomenons.
In 2002, using his school’s AV room, Raza recorded himself imitating a Jedi from the “Star Wars” films. The then 14-year-old’s awkward display captivated the internet’s attention causing the recording to become one of YouTube’s earliest viral hits.
Raza speaks to the experience saying, “What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide.” In 2011, Vice tech site Motherboard detailed the Raza saga, diving into what little was actually known of the now 25-year-old Québécois.
Motherboard explained that Raza, after his video exploded online, was forced to drop out of high school and was ladmitted to a psychiatric ward for children. The picture painted of Raza’s lost childhood is a grim one, as he told L’actualité magazine, “No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living.”
The entire experience culminated in an inevitable lawsuit by Raza’s family against the three students responsible for leaking the video, which ended in a settlement.
The story has a happy-ish ending however: Raza, according to the interview, is now a law-school graduate who openly speaks out against cyberbullying. Raza told Maclean’s that he hopes his experience will help others deal with similar cases of harassment as well as prompt school authorities to offer the types of support he so badly needed 10 years ago.
You can check out the full issue here, although it’ll cost you. Because that’s how they do things in Canada.