The ‘Emu Lady’ on TikTok is two different women – Rolling Stone

The emu is a large, long-necked, flightless but powerful bird, related to the ostrich and native to Australia. Although they can be bred for their meat, feathers, eggs, and oil, they are also often kept as pets and help protect other pets from predators. That’s because – I can tell you from living briefly next to a farm that had one – they’re pretty intimidating, with strong legs, dinosaur-like eyes, and a tendency to peck at anything that interests them. (The Australians lost a real war against them, if you want to get a sense of their strength.)

The birds’ unusual appearance and temperament have also made them internet stars in recent years. The one you may have met on TikTok is a vicious character aptly named Karen. She lives at Useless Farm in the village of Hartington, Ontario, with a menagerie of other creatures who have no jobs and provide no salable goods. Their owner, Amanda, runs the place with her husband Adam and their two sons in addition to a full-time government service job.

Amanda’s hugely popular TikTok account – 5 million plus subscribers – features entertaining clips of all her “useless” animals, but Karen is a fan favorite. The farm’s website describes her as an “absolute bitch” and notes that she hates Amanda “with every fiber of her being”. While her companion, Stanley, is very cuddly and affectionate, even to the point of wearing silly costumes without protesting, Karen prefers to disrupt any attempt at videotaping by rushing at Amanda whistling. Only a firm hand to his neck will stop the attack, as demonstrated here:

Useless Farm is supported by donations and a merchandise store, and by all indications appears to be a legitimate labor of love. TikTok and YouTube channels bring laughs while enticing viewers around the world to buy tote bags or help with maintenance costs. A perfectly nice arrangement.

That brings us to the other emu, which is mired in a much more complicated story of digital influence and infamy. His name is Emmanuel and he lives at Knuckle Bump Farms in South Florida, owned by Taylor Blake and his companion, Kristian Haggerty. This hobby farm’s social accounts emerged in January and garnered a massive following in less than a year — more than 900,000 on Instagram and 2.4 million on TikTok. Blake, too, breeds emus (and rhea, a related bird), of which Emmanuel Todd Lopez is the best known.

Unlike Karen, he seems to have a romantic relationship with his caretaker. But he’s also not without his mischievous side and sometimes goes after Taylor’s phone while she’s filming. “Emmanuel, don’t do it” is his slogan in these situations. This summer, Taylor even appeared on the Tonight’s show to play a similar scene with Jimmy Fallon.

In internet shorthand fashion, Amanda and Taylor are colloquially referred to as “The Emu Lady,” and why not? They do very similar viral content with their emus. One might even wonder if Taylor, who started a few years after Useless Farm went live, was imitating Amanda’s schtick, consciously or not. rolling stone reached out to both women to ask if they’ve viewed each other’s content, and if so, their thoughts on it.

In an email, Amanda replies that she was just asked to be in a New York Times article with Taylor, and declined. “I’ve been doing this for almost three years and I’ve had the farm longer. I love what I do – I have so much fun. To be honest,” she said, “it’s more than stupid emu lady stuff.”

Why would she refuse a double major profile with Taylor?

Well, the Florida farmer – who currently identifies as a “Jesus-loving, slightly funny lesbian” – has had several personas on social media. From mid-2020 to 2021, her Instagram documents long trips across the country in an RV with Haggerty with photos of lush nature tagging hashtags like #lifeontheroad and #offgridliving, unmistakably an influencer’s aesthetic. of potential travel. Prior to that, from 2019 to 2020, she had some success directing comedy videos as the character “Karen” (not to be confused with the emu Karen), a “southern divorcee” and “mother of two. which subverted the trope of the reactionary white woman by expressing progressive or “woke” views. In her final monologue for this series, she urged subscribers to demand justice for George Floyd.

Long before thishowever, she used the N-word on Twitter, claiming to be both African American and Native American, and arguing that the best way to defeat racism was to “stop talking about it.” In every phase of her continued reimagining, critics have once again circulated screenshots of her offensive comments dating back to 2011. That year, she tagged comedian Chelsea Handler, asking to be adopted because “I’m a skinny white girl that [sic] can impersonate fat black girls.

“If you want my comment on what Taylor did and said, here it is: it’s disgusting,” Amanda said. rolling stone. “Clear and simple. It’s important to me that everyone feels welcome in our little online corner of the internet called Useless Farm – free from judgment and hate.

Nonetheless, Taylor continued to amass a fandom with Emmanuel and Knuckle Bump Farms — until she was faced with an all-new scandal. On October 15, she announced on Twitter that she had lost “99%of his birds to bird flu after a flock of wild geese invaded the farm. Then it emerged that Emmanuel had also fallen ill but, while tending to him, Taylor continued to kiss and snuggle up to him as usual, which alarmed medical experts who said warned that she could contract the virus herself, which could lead to a deadly pandemic flu in humans. Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, an infectious disease researcher, called it a “bad idea”. Taylor defended herself in part by explaining that Emmanuel “panicks every time we approach him with a mask”.

By contacting Taylor, rolling stone asked for any further comment on the bird flu backlash or its apparent history of racist tweets. She hasn’t answered yet.

“Thank God we didn’t know [avian flu]at Useless Farm, says Amanda, “and we are very careful to follow all the guidelines from our veterinarians and Health Canada.

Although she consented to the state culling other possibly infected birds, Taylor opted to have Emmanuel tested. She announced on October 22 that he finally did not have the flu and was clearly suffering from stress during the crisis at the farm. “Always trust your intuition!” she tweeted.

Whatever the chorus of contempt on social media about Taylor’s handling of the incident, Florida’s own agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried – whom Taylor personally thanked for his help during the death of the herd – had no problem with that. In fact, she took advantage of Emmanuel’s new diagnosis to promote a brewery that makes a sour beer named after her, even wearing a T-shirt of the iconic bird.

To conspiracy theorists, this may seem like a suspicious resolution to a possible public health disaster. And for now, Taylor is only posting updates on Emmanuel’s recovery on Twitter, leaving Knuckle Bump Farms’ TikTok and Instagram accounts dormant. Once he’s back to being himself, she may well face another round of appeals for his past controversies, even if the standards who love his farm videos remain blissfully oblivious to such context. Or she could piss off the internet in a whole new way.

Luckily, as the speech progresses, you’ll have a clear understanding of which Emu Lady is which, why one has been repeatedly ‘canceled’, and where your loyalties should lie. Unlike those people struggling with the misunderstanding that there is only one Emu Lady.

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