From Villain to Famous Beef Jerky: How “Tan Mom” Rose to Fame

From Villain to Famous Beef Jerky: How “Tan Mom” Rose to Fame

If you?ve ever been on the Internet before then you have most definitely gazed upon one of societies finest creations: a meme. If you?re like my 80-year-old Nonna, however, then you most definitely have not seen or even know what a meme is, for that matter. First coined in 1976 by biologist Richard Dawkins, a meme is a ?package that conveys an idea of a unit of cultural transmission or unit of imitation.? In actual English, this translates to something that is imitated and is usually intended to be funny. An internet meme is a cultural symbol or social idea that is rapidly shared on social media, becoming a constant online experience. There are many forms of memes: photo memes, video memes, image (macro) memes and word memes. Similarly, there are many people that have been turned into a meme and became an internet sensation after going viral. From ?Bad Luck Brian? to the ?Hot Felon,? their lives have dramatically transformed due to their sudden online fame.

Image for postImage for postBad Luck Brian VS Hot Felon: Who?s the real hunk here?

One person in particular who became a meme is the not-so-hot-felon: Tan Mom. On April 24th, 2014, Patricia Krentcil was arrested after she was accused of sneaking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth in Nutley, New Jersey. Her daughter, Anna, complained to a nurse that she had pain from a sunburn and that her mother took her to a tanning salon, so police were contacted and by April 30th there was a large amount of news coverage of the story. Krentcil became the subject of online ridicule for having ?tanorexia,? which society coined as a term to describe somebody who has an extreme tanning addiction.

Image for postTan Mom?s skin is as red as her daughter?s hair, YIKES.

Krentcil pleaded not guilty to the charge of child endangerment, and her story received so much news coverage that on May 2nd, 2012, reddit user jking800 posted an interview clip of Patricia with the title ?Piece of beef jerky talks about why it thinks it?s okay to bring its six year old to a tanning salon.? Within only six days, the post received a whopping 5,600 up votes and over 750 comments. In that same day, reddit user Reptar33 posted a photo meme of Krentcil with the caption ?THEY SAID I COULD BECOME ANYTHING SO I BECAME BEEF JERKY.?

Image for postReptar33?s work of art

On May the 4th (be with you) (?sorry I had to), Facebook and Twitter pages were created for ?tanning mom? and a star was born. Or should I say, a human piece of beef jerky was born? I don?t know. But either way, Krentcil became an internet sensation and memes of her spread like wildfire, just like the UV rays that crisped her skin. The day after ?tanning mom? was created, Kristen Wiig impersonated Patricia on a Saturday Night Live skit where she came onto the set with a horrible orange tan and smoking skin, while simultaneously toasting a piece of bread between her legs.

Image for postWiig as Krentcil

Becoming aware of her unexpected meme-status, Krentcil tried to capitalize on it but completely failed. She barely had her life together prior to the incident that brought her fame, and she was suddenly thrown into the spotlight. She was invited to red carpet events, talk shows, and nightclubs and probably made the worst appearances. Most of the time she was way too drunk and stumbled everywhere.

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With this new shift in her life, she ~ attempted ~ to use it to her advantage and make a bigger name for herself. She emailed a porn production company called Vivid Entertainment to see if they wanted to film her for pornographic content, which only resulted in one big NO. She even made a music video which surprisingly made her a lot of cash. It?s so inappropriate and you will most likely contract some disease after watching it, but if it?s a risk you?re willing to take then skip to around 1:40 where you can see that she just gives up on all efforts to successfully lip sync.

RIP to the brain cells lost whilst watching this.

TV shows like Howard Stern and Dr. Drew wanted to talk with her, and she even made multiple appearances on Howard Stern?s show. However, interest in her faded quickly as new memes overtook the internet. So, just like the heat of her tanning beds, she sizzled away and her life went askew. Mainstream media no longer cared for her, however that didn?t stop people from going up to her in public and humiliating her for being a horrible mother. After all of the media coverage and society?s opinion of Patricia, her and her family went to therapy which ?broke [them] $100,000 at least.? With her 15 minutes of fame finally over, she turned to drinking and became an alcoholic. She eventually went to rehab for a month and when she came out sober, she decided to invest $15,000 into a tanning salon called ?Sun of a Beach Tanning,? eventually becoming one of the co-owners. Although she now works with a tanning salon, her ?tanorexia? has surprisingly simmered and she has cut back on the amount of time spent in the tanning beds.

Image for postShe doesn?t look like an Oompa Loompa anymore!

Her connection to Howard Stern has even helped her after her internet fame ended. Patricia has admitted that he has given her money on different occasions and even invited her to his 60th birthday party in NYC. She still wanted more media attention though, so she pushed for photoshoots with Playboy magazine. Hugh Hefner thankfully denied her requests.

After a few years of living a downward spiral of events, Patricia proclaimed to the public that she was going to change for the better and attempt to end her tanning addiction. However, since her addiction was the reason for her ?successes? (can you even call these successes though? She was literally arrested for child endangerment and is a human piece of beef jerky), she didn?t want to break away from the ?tan mom? reputation.

All in all, Patricia?s attempts to capitalize her meme-status ended up being for the worst. Her marriage almost ended, she lost a lot of money due to counseling charges, she has been verbally abused by members of the public, and as a result it has taken a huge hit on her family. Looking back, she acknowledges that her choices were wrong and claimed that she ?did not want to do it. A lot of it was not managed right, [she] was pushed into a lot of things. [She] knew it wasn?t going to work [for] her. That?s not who [she is].? Do I believe this statement? HECK no. It?s honestly probably just another way for her and try and gain some fame again. At the end of the day, this piece of Oompa Loompa leather tried to use her popularity as a piece of online culture to make money. She failed miserably, and it only resulted in the public roasting her, almost as bad as the tanning beds that roasted her. (BADUM-TSS)

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Paitra Walker

Ryerson Creative Industries




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