Huge news for those who closely follow the health and well-being of Emmanuel the emu and who have not yet been deterred by his owner’s history of online racism in search of influence: he has not yet not bird flu! He’s just stressed. It’s not the greatest saga ever told, but it is a saga, and I’m going to tell it.
Quickly, before we dive in – in case you’ve let half of this talk seep into your brain, I’m talking about Taylor Blake, NOT the other emu influencer no problem (as far as we know) who works at useless farm and has an emu named Karen who keeps trying to murder him on camera.
Before the bird flu, Emmanuel the emu went viral (no pun intended) last summer. Taylor Blake, her owner and chef at Knuckle Bump Farms in South Florida, was doing this bit where she tried to post farming education videos on TikTok, but was constantly interrupted by the emu stretching out her long emu neck in frame, curious as to what was going on. Blake, to the delight of his viewers, would chastise him using his full Christian name, Emmanuel Todd Lopez. The duo reached such a peak of viral fame that Blake was interviewed by both the Washington Post and the Tonight’s show. The niche drama seemed so wholesome and fun, but would eventually wind down like most Five Minutes of Fame do: Quickly and quietly! Of course, things are not always what they seem.
Turns out, this wasn’t Blake’s first rodeo: the farm girl has featured many versions of herself over the years. Although it took a while, the terminally ill online people among us quickly recognized her from her previous stunts, like go viral for recording in 2015 asking a Taco Bell employee if she wanted to have a sleepover. All pretty innocuous internet fame fodder, isn’t it? Are women nice to each other? #To win! Fast Food Content!? #TacoBellPartnerWin! But a #BigFail lurked beneath the surface. #Racism.
Along the well-trodden path of virality on the Internet, Blake’s old tweets, in which she used the N-word and disparaged black behavior, were quickly discovered (she quickly deleted them). This discovery obtained the average size reaction you’d imagine an infamous white Florida farmer being lazily racist deserves: the outrage in some corners of the internet that weren’t big enough to go back to Fallon or the Job. Just as this cycle of outrage died down to make way for America’s next unlikely animal superstar, disease struck South Florida.
On October 15, Blake announcement the farm had suffered a ‘massive tragedy’ and lost 99% of its birds to Avian iflu. When AI hits a farm, the state kicks in Contagion-style to “take care of them”, i.e. make them perform their last flight. Devastating. Emmanuel’s fans rightly demanded to know his status, where he was – did the flu hit him too?!? It really looked like it. He was “down,” according to Blake. Emmanuel was tired, not eating and had a twisted neck. She posted about 500 photos of herself cuddling, kissing and holding the (excuse me) absolutely fucked up-at the top-Moved to look sickly.
Report an accidental change in 40% of Twitter suddenly becoming bird disease experts. “Kiss not the emu that is dying of a plague,” has been the general consensus. real bird disease specialist and virologist, Dr. Angela Rasmussen, Express how dangerous it is to be in physical contact with a bird with AI. “It sounds harsh, but to prevent it, it’s [sic] spread, birds that catch bird flu should be euthanized,” she tweeted. I too agreed that it was time to say goodbye to Emmanuel to save humanity, like he was Bruce Willis in Armageddon. Blake, a racist slumber party enthusiast, did not.
“Something in my gut just told me it wasn’t the end for him,” she said. tweeted. And it turns out that feeling in her gut wasn’t her body fighting the AI: she was right. Emmanuel was tested for all types of illnesses, and nothing was found wrong with him. But then why did he look like he had slipped on the current of the Styx? Why did its feathers fall off and its neck twist?
Oh, he was just having a bad day! “We think it’s all due to stress,” Blake said. tweeted. “Emus are very sensitive to stress.” Were all his friends killed by the government that did it? Maybe. Was it the rapid rise to fame? Maybe. Did having a stage mother of a farm owner with a racist past cause her any distress? Who’s to say? But Emmanuel Todd Lopez was fucking stressed and on the verge of death. I’ve been there, man.
Is there a lesson to the 800+ words I just typed? Well, it’s safe to say: no. But don’t be racist. Also, don’t cuddle a sick bird in your bed. Or if you do, don’t post about it, because the internet has frozen into a single avian virologist and will ask the state to remove YOU if you get too close to a sick bird. My dying wish is for Emmanuel to recover and for us to find out why he, against all his bird brothers and sisters, survived annihilation.