After years of plagiarism accusations levied against Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky finally boiled over in recent weeks, the Instagram celebrity has given his first interview since the backlash to express remorse and a promise to properly credit each joke’s creator going forward. Speaking to Vulture, the self-proclaimed pop culture “commentator” also discussed how he aggregates content, his lack of attribution and whether he considers himself a plagiarist.
When asked whether he ever intentionally stole a joke or cropped out the originator’s name when reposting it, Ostrovsky said, “No, not intentionally. If something was heard and written down, then that’s probably what happened. I didn’t realize that if you don’t have a source for something, then you couldn’t necessarily post it. I don’t think that was always clear. I’m very on the cutting-edge of the Internet. I’m up on a lot of the newest shit first. So, if I didn’t realize all this about attribution and sources, there are probably other people who also don’t.”
However, Ostrovsky said that he never meant to mislead his followers into thinking that he was the source of all his posts, despite making comments giving himself credit in prior interviews.
“I’m a commentator. My interns and I find pop-culture stuff that’s hyperrelevant and that’s going to resonate with people, and when it feels right, we put it up,” the Fat Jew said of his popular Instagram, which boasts nearly 6 million followers. “At the end of the day, I get it: I should have been providing attribution for all posts. It’s always been important to me. The internet is a vast ocean of stuff, and sometimes it’s hard to find the original source of something. I now realize that if I couldn’t find a source for something, I probably shouldn’t have posted it in the first place.”
Ostrovsky promised that he and his “army of interns working out of the back of a nail salon in Queens” are now going through the thousands of Instagram posts to properly credit each joke’s originator. He admits that he is not a comedian, but that he still plays an important role in today’s social media-fueled landscape. “I’m sort of a Renaissance man of pop culture. There are elements of comedy, but that is not the genesis of what I am. I’m a satirist. I’m a commentator. I’m a performance artist. I’m an idiot,” he said.
While the damage is likely already done – Ostrovsky’s reputation will likely forever be tarnished in the comedy world – he promises, “There will never again be a photo that’s unattributed. And honestly, if I can’t find a source, I won’t post the image, because that’s not what I’m all about.”
Read the whole interview at Vulture.