If you type the name “Roland Bunce” into Google you return 41,600 searches. According to media reports, Roland Bunce is a 24-year old computer science graduate, who has entered fashion and homeware brand Next’s online competition to find the next model.
Despite being atypical model material, he’s won public hearts and minds and is currently the frontrunner to win the competition, having received the most votes thanks to widespread social media support, along with some 54,000 Facebook ‘Likes’.
It doesn’t really matter whether Roland is a real person or not and it doesn’t matter if Roland Bunce is just a pseudonym. What matters is that social media has handed the public the power to make an unconventional underdog the winner of a high profile modelling competition. And the public loves it.
People from as far as Australia and Brazil have left comments of support on the Facebook group wall which has been created to raise Roland’s profile. A sense of camaraderie and communal anti-establishmentarianism is spreading across the social space.
I love a good revolution as much as the next person, but I can’t help feeling there’s a bit of a pack mentality starting to form. Look at the a recent comment left on the Roland Bunce To Win next model 2011 Facebook wall on Tuesday.
The comment was admittedly antagonistic towards Roland’s supporters and with emotions running high retaliation was to be expected. Someone creating a new Facebook profile taking the commenter’s name and adding ‘is an ugly shallow whOre’ to it solely to throw abuse back at the person starts to make things look ugly.
It’s interesting that Next has abstained from commenting on Roland’s rise to fame when the brand could surely turn this round into a positive PR story or at the very least put out a few of the negative fires that are starting to spread online.
It’s also sad to see the collective psyche taking a beautiful sentiment and turning it into an ugly mud-slinging match.