This week, a new pocket of Twitter “stan” culture — the passionate fanbases that typically rally around pop stars — seemed to emerge when a “war” broke out between Charles Manson and Ted Bundy superfans.
This feud started as internet-based ones often do: an innocuous tweet pitting two “stars” against each other. The account @TheBlackpinkWak tweeted, in response to no one in particular, “Charles manson walked so ted bundy could run bitch sit down” with an edited meme video of Manson’s erratic court room moves set to Nicki Minaj’s “Roman Holiday.”
Charles manson walked so that ted bundy could run bitch sit down pic.twitter.com/2NcqyXlMxx
— keey (@TheBlackpinkWak) August 13, 2019
This caught the attention of Ted Bundy stan accounts, who were posting about the 1970s serial killer and necrophile as if he were a member of BTS under anonymous account names like @bundysbiitch and @bundyeatmypussy. “Ted Nation” supporters took cracks at Manson’s hygiene and Nazi affiliation, with their own edited videos of Bundy set to Minaj’s “Good Form” and Stunna Girl’s “Runway.”
— justice for ted (@bundysbiitch) August 13, 2019
The account that started it all (@TheBlackpinkWak) responded here and there with “defenses” of Manson, but once a Twitter user (@artdisease) pointed out the feud with screenshots of these message, making the whole exchange go viral, @TheBlackpinkWak revealed that they are just a stan account for the K-pop girl group Blackpink, not an actual Manson enthusiast. “These people think im a real Charles manson stan plsss,” the wrote with a series of sob face emojis. (Rolling Stone has reached out for further comment, and will update if we hear back.)
WHY IS THERE BEEF BETWEEN TED BUNDY AND CHARLES MANSON STANS???? HELP!!!! pic.twitter.com/AJO7rG2Q7H
— sarah (@artdisease) August 13, 2019
Once the tweet from @artdisease spread, Bundy “stans” had a bigger war to fight, defending the “charming” serial killer as users expressed disgust for the accounts’ existence. They used footage from Bundy’s trials set to various rap songs, along with pointed insults aimed at detractors.
As defensive as they were, many of these accounts started as a joke that got out of hand. “Basically, me and a small group of friends had a long running inside joke over who would win in a fight: Ted Bundy or Charles Manson,” a Twitter user who has requested anonymity tells Rolling Stone. He created his Bundy stan parody account after a friend started @bundysbitch_, the first of this group of trolling Twitter users, and suggests that @TheBlackPinkWak was part of the joke, though he does not know them personally.
“It was all 100% ironic and it was about six people in the group the first day,” he continues, noting that a group DM began between Monday and Tuesday of this week. He has since deactivated his account. “Random people obviously found out and made more accounts, a lot of them being actually serious, which i found out this morning when i deactivated my Ted account.” The Twitter user adds that many of those genuine accounts were claiming to be between the ages of 15 and 17 years old in the DM.
The reaction was small until the aforementioned screenshots of the “feud” were spread by user @artdisease. At press time, the tweet (embedded above) has nearly 19,000 retweets and caused “Ted Bundy” to trend on Twitter Wednesday evening. Most of the tweets expressed disgust at the stan accounts, perhaps not realizing they were parodies.
In the meantime, the group chat of six people expanded into close to 45 Ted Bundy stan accounts. To keep up the ruse, the trolls willingly shared their selfies to prove themselves to members of “Ted Nation.” When they did so, the trolls did not realize that three accounts had infiltrated their group chat in an effort to expose everyone behind the Bundy accounts. A stan account for the band Queen was the first to go public, and posted a thread revealing the Twitter identities of the users involved in the group chat.
To clarify, in stan Twitter terms, their identities are still mostly secure. What the thread revealed was their main stan account handles where they tweet about things like K-pop and Marvel instead of Bundy. These accounts may use real first names, but they typically do not share their last names or pictures to keep it separate from school, work, or family. Since the moles from within the group chat now have their selfies, however, many of the original trolls who no longer want to be associated with the joke fear their faces being posted. This was made worse by the targeted attacks that followed the thread revealing their main Twitter usernames.
“A lot of people called us disgusting and told us to get raped or kill ourselves,” the fake Bundy stan says. “But we kinda justified this by telling ourselves ‘Well, we know we don’t actually stan him’ and knowing we were just parodies.”
Even if the majority of this viral “movement” was meant as joke, Bundy fans have existed online for years. In the Tumblr True Crime Community, people endlessly pick apart the case out of pure fascination. Elsewhere, fanfiction hubs like Archive of Our Own, Wattpad, and Fanfiction.net have hosted numerous erotic fantasies written about Bundy as well as about other famous serial killers, like Jeffrey Dahmer and Richard Ramirez. Recently on TikTok, users have made videos cosplaying as Bundy victims preparing for their “date” with him.
When they were alive, both Manson and Bundy had massive followings of fangirl-esque women who would write them letters and even defend them on national television. Manson, who started his third prison sentence in 1971 and was there until his death in 2017, even got engaged to a young fan in 2014. Afton Elaine “Star” Burton was 26 years old at the time and had begun visiting Manson in prison when she was 17 years old. (They later broke off the engagement.)
Even if the majority of new Bundy stan accounts are part of a gross joke mimicking modern Twitter fan culture, there were still the few who took this seriously: conspiracy theorists with hints of sexual attraction towards the serial killer. One member of “Ted Nation” claims to have not been part of the ironic faction of recent Bundy accounts and is happy to have finally found her “family,” who also believe that Bundy is innocent.
“He was forced to confess to try and save his own life. Anyone would, given the circumstances,” she tells RS. “Sure he had demons and faults. Everyone does. But this is our stance.”
The anonymous user behind one of the early fake Bundy stan Twitters notes that many of the accounts have been deactivated or suspended by Twitter. The more diehard, non-ironic members of “Ted Nation” have been suspended repeatedly, but keep creating new handles. He is hopeful that the other trolling accounts will realize that this is “100% serious” and delete. For now, they are enjoying the height of this joke.
“I’d rather nobody know I was doing that, even as a joke,” he continues, atoning for his involvement in a game that accidentally yielded passionate, justified anger. “It went way too far.”