‘Star Wars Kid’ Talks Cyber Bullying After Decade of Silence
Ghyslain Raza was a viral video superstar before most people knew what a viral video was. And the experience almost killed him.
You probably know Raza as "The Star Wars Kid," who in 2002 was caught on tape (yes, old-fashioned video tape) awkwardly and enthusiastically using a golf ball retriever to imitate Darth Maul's lightsaber moves in 'Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.'
Classmates of the then 14-year-old from Quebec, Canada created an electronic file from the video and in 2003 it was uploaded onto the internet, unbeknownst to Raza.
It's hard to get an exact number on how many times it was viewed, because the clip predates YouTube by a couple years, but some estimates have it being watched close to a billion times. His lightsaber moves also ended up being spoofed by 'South Park', Stephen Colbert and 'American Dad.'
And for all of this, Raza was miserable. That's because his notoriety made him a target for intense bullying at school. There were even calls from his tormentors for Raza to kill himself.
"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," Raza said in a recent interview with MacLean’s, which are his first public comments on the video.
Raza's depression was such that he was sent to a psychiatric ward. But he was eventually able to get his life back on track and at 25 he is a law school graduate.
He says he's finally speaking out so he can help others who might be experiencing cyber-bullying. We can only hope that the internet has matured over the last 10 years and that the viral video stars of today are appreciated, not mocked, for the few minutes of entertainment they provide us all.