The ephemeral nature of Twitter (skim a tweet one moment, forget about it the next) especially applies to the satirical accounts constantly appearing on the popular social network. As we pointed out earlier this summer when we noticed several new South Carolina-related parody accounts, most go dormant after a few weeks once a story fades out of the public eye.
One Twitter satirist, however, has withstood the test of time to become one of the most popular parody accounts in the Palmetto State. What’s more, this political jokester’s wit is matched only by their desire for anonymity — leaving many to speculate about the true identity of this mystery satirist.
Of course I’m talking about @SCLegislator, who lampoons South Carolina politics from the perspective of a blustery, self-important right-wing lawmaker. That also happens to describe the vast majority of the state’s real lawmakers, which is probably why the satire is so effective.
“I suppose you people criticizing all this last-minute legislative chaos would have had us just ignore the whole light bulb freedom issue?” @SCLegislator asked earlier this summer, as lawmakers scrambled to finish writing the state budget on time.
“Good to be back in church this morning after a long week of having to listen to that tiresome message about equality and acceptance for all,” he tweeted in May.
Dear readers, I have an announcement to make. After guessing for years about the true identity of @SCLegislator, I was lucky enough to sit down with the author of one of the best parody accounts on Twitter.
And no, I’m not telling you who it is.
@SCLegislator decided to let Palmetto Public Record into the “circle of trust” surrounding his real name, making me one of the dozen or so people who have been clued in on the secret. He also told me about why he does what he does, and what’s next for the popular Twitter satirist.
The anonymous fake-lawmaker said the genesis of his satire lies with another South Carolina native, fake-conservative comedian Stephen Colbert. “He has such a likability about him and embodies his character so well, that some people don’t know he’s not serious,” said @SCLegislator. “Most people just laugh at his jokes, but others are like ‘right on!’”
I mentioned Poe’s Law, an online pseudo-rule which claims it is impossible to create a parody of extremism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing. @SCLegislator again returned to Colbert, who recently held a rally with former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain — though nobody really knew if it was serious or not.
“I’m not even sure whether Herman Cain knows he himself is a character,” @SCLegislator quipped, referring to the reality TV-like nature of this year’s primaries. “You can marvel at him, but you can’t really dislike him.”
When I asked the online humorist what motivates him to lampoon state politics, the answer came easy. The state is just so ripe for parody, it’s almost hard not to make fun of it.
“At heart, I’m still an idealist,” @SCLegislator said. “But no one’s paying attention to the political system. You have a disengaged electorate and a media that’s afraid to challenge the status quo, so politicians can do whatever they want.”
But all political careers must eventually end, and @SCLegislator’s is no different. He says he intends to “take off the mask” sometime soon and shut down the account — though it’s definitely not for lack of material.
“If you’ve ever said that SC politics can’t get any more dysfunctional and embarrassing,” he tweeted earlier this year, “let this be a lesson to you not to underestimate us.”