There was a time, around the millennium, when images of Fred Durst like the one at the top of this article seemed inescapable; in some of them, Durst had his head tilted to one side, eyes bugged out, hands clawed into gestures either invocative of gang signs or implicitly welcoming the onlooker into Limp Bizkit’s bizarre, idiotic vision of rock-rap super-stardom. To everyone’s relief—including his own, one imagines—Durst’s media persona is tamer today, but the legacy of its predecessor lives on through billions of horrible selfies snapped via smart phones and posted to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook every month.
To say that selfie culture—and the raft of nomenclature and norms that surround it—are inherently insipid is to bypass understatement entirely and enter some sort of endless narcissism feedback-loop. Young selfie culture, in particular, can often resemble a Hades of curled lips, vigorous mugging, fake kisses, frozen screams tinged with hilarity. To be adolescent has always been thus, but modern technology, peer pressure, and a media skewing ever-younger because that’s where the money is has transformed this pose, or series of poses, into wallpaper for social media and a great deal of advertising, to the extent that separating the two can be next to impossible.
Blaming Durst for this may seem naive, but in the run-up to the Internet’s devouring of reality as much of us understand it, few celebrities were that willing to pull PR-funded boners. Add to this the fact—and it’s significant—that Durst didn't seem like a rock star; he seemed like a Guitar Center clerk who’d failed to make it as a rock star, an insanely lucky regular guy who happened to love rap and metal whose star might plummet down to Earth any second now. Durst isn’t anywhere as ubiquitous as he once was, but when he pops up now, on blogs or in magazines, his bearing is that of an adult: someone who both has overcome the novelty of instantaneous photography and someone who remembers when photography was a special, labor-intensive thing.