Personas are tricky things, aren’t they? You need a high enough social link to unlock more possible fusions, but even then you spend hours re-rolling in order to get the exact combination of skills you want. Know what else is tricky? Talking about Internet celebrity personas.
See, the easy way to deflect criticism for anything you say is to have a ‘persona’. The correct way is to admit fault, but why would you want to do that? Let an offensive comment slip? Didn’t do your research? Just pull the ‘persona’ card! Take Man Child Messiah’s favorite whipping boy, Linkara, for example. Lewis (who goes by Linkara, funnily enough) likes to pull the ‘persona’ card whenever somebody notices a mistake in his video. He’s claimed that his supposed fictional version of Linkara is far more arrogant than he is, which makes absolutely no sense if you’ve watched any AT4W video ever.
Any episode of Atop the Fourth Wall contains a bad reading of the comic with the occasional quip from Lewis. Think MST3K but with comics and no humor. Compare this to, say, The Jimqusition on The Escapist. Jim Sterling’s on-screen persona (because the Jim who does the voiceover work is obviously vanilla Jim…which is admittedly pretty weird) is exactly what you’d expect a persona to be. I mean, in one of the episode tags, ‘Jim’ asks to be worshipped akin to a deity.
The supposed Linkara persona does nothing of the sort. Watch a random AT4W (a name I still don’t understand) and then watch a Linkara Vlog. We can play a game of Spot the Difference! All you need to do is find the parts where Linkara acts differently than Lewis! Spoilers: there aren’t any. Angry Joe is another ‘character’ that I’m suspicious of. Joe Vargas and his irritated counterpart don’t seem to have any noticeable differences in character or beliefs. Joe Vargas is fairly angry himself, and Angry Joe complains about the same things that Vargas hates. These characters are almost completely indiscernible from their real-life counterparts. Sure, Linkara occasionally fights copyright law by dueling Pyramid Head or something, but those are situations, not character elements. I’m sure the Linkara character acts similar to how Lewis imagines he would perform in such a situation.
Now, reviewer personas aren’t inherently bad. The Mr. Plinkett character allows for entertaining asides in the midst of insightful commentary. Plinkett and Mike Stolaska (one of the three guys most commonly associated with Red Letter Media and the mastermind behind the Plinkett reviews) certainly share views, yes, but Plinkett is a 100-year old psychopath. Take a piece from his Phantom Menace review, for example. After an excellent bit about how expanded universe stuff doesn’t make plot holes irrelevant, we cut to Plinkett’s creepy basement, complete with bones and a tied-up hooker. I somewhat doubt Stolaska’s basement contains similar horrors.
It’s not really that hard to put together a successful reviewer persona. You can go the Jimqusition route and have an exaggerated self-parody, or you can explore the Plinkett road and create a totally unrelated character that shares the same views. If your persona acts like you and thinks like you, then aforementioned persona is you and falls under the self-insert banner. And god knows Linkara would never make anything with a self-insert character.
But we’ll get to that…