ED’S DESK: Influencer Submits Story To New Matilda… With Predictable Results


The following is an actual submission sent to New Matilda this week from ‘social media influencer’ Emre Bardan. Ed’s Desk is an occasional column in New Matilda, where we clean up submitted copy or news reports, and add some suggested changes.

[HEADLINE] SHOCKING! Travel Horror Story: Aussie Influencer Glamhairartist Unbelievable Experience of Being Robbed, Assaulted, and Trafficked in Mexico!

[ED’S NOTE] Thanks for the submission Emre. Firstly, this is not the Daily Mail. Headlines are not sentences. Secondly, being robbed, assaulted and/or trafficked in Mexico is not what’s known as “unbelievable”. It’s what’s known as “a Monday”. Your headline is rejected.

[BODY COPY] In a story that’s sure to send shivers down your spine, Emre Bardan, a popular Australian social media sensation who goes by @glamhairartist on Instagram has revealed the unimaginable horrors he endured during a recent trip to California and Mexico with the sinister Anton Prack. What was supposed to be a dream vacation turned into a chilling nightmare of drugging, sexual assault, and heartless robbery!

[ED’S NOTE] Okay… Emre, don’t tell the reader how to feel in the opening sentence (for the record, I laughed quite a bit, and at times I was deeply confused, but at no stage did your story “send shivers down my spine”. Now, firstly, if you’re actually going to refer to yourself as a “social media sensation”, I’m actually going to sub that out of the story. For your own benefit. Trust me. Secondly, having read your ‘story’, none of the ‘horrors’ you suffered were “unimaginable”. If any of what you write is actually true, it was utterly, entirely predictable. Thirdly, you need to explain who the bad guy in your story is, beyond just introducing him as ‘the sinister Anton Prack’, like readers would actually know some random dude from the United States, current population about 330 million people.

In Emre’s own words, “As a travel influencer, I’m always looking for new experiences to share with my followers. When Anton Prack suggested we switch up our plans and head to Puerto Vallarta instead of the Bahamas, I was intrigued. Despite my friends’ reservations, I decided to give Anton the benefit of the doubt.”

[ED’S NOTE] In my own words, what in God’s name is a ‘travel influencer’? You cut people’s hair for a living, you’re not an ‘influencer anything’, let alone a ‘travel’ one. Also, if you refer to people who have liked your Instagram page as ‘followers’, it makes you sound like a narcissistic cult leader. Please amend.

But things quickly took a chilling turn. The twisted Anton robbed Emre of his credit, belongings, and a whopping $50,000! He then lured Emre to Mexico, where he supplied him with a rigged laptop and Apple phone, allowing Anton and his IT experts to hack into Emre’s devices.

I wasn’t at all “chilled” by the turn your story took, Emre. I did however think it was ridiculous. Avoid clichés please. Also, you can’t be “robbed” of credit. It’s not your money, that’s why it’s called ‘credit’. You can be robbed of a credit card, but if that happens just ring the bank and they’ll cancel it for you. Please correct. Also, I don’t believe you had $50,000 (it’s an offence to leave Australia with more than $10,000 in cash) and even if you did, $50,000 is not ‘whopping’. A million bucks is ‘whopping’. Please amend. And also, how did he “lure” you to Mexico? Are you a rat? Is he a cheese baron? Please amend. And another also, if you really were supplied with a “rigged laptop and Apple phone”, that might enable ‘twisted Anton’ to hack into your accounts (which at this point in the story, you kind of deserve), but not your devices… because they’re not your devices. They’re his devices. They’re your accounts. Please amend.

Emre’s nightmare escalated when he was drugged with a mysterious pink powder during a night out with acquaintances. In his vulnerable state, he was robbed of his possessions and cash, and Anton was shown his dance videos.

“Nightmare” could potentially be the most honest description of anything you’ve written, because that would then strongly infer your entire story was a ‘dream’, which, frankly, is significantly more believable. Either way, readers are not going to accept you were “drugged with a mysterious pink powder”. They might believe, for example, that you snorted a bucketload of cocaine, got confused, and woke up in a dumpster. But drugs are never “mysterious” and they certainly don’t come in the colour pink. Consider revising please. Also, if you were in a “vulnerable state”, it’s pretty clear you got yourself there. Own it. And please expand and explain further what “Anton was shown his dance videos” means… it’s quite literally the only interesting part of your entire submission. Also, please forward a copy of the dance videos. Australia’s Funniest Home Videos still pays for submissions.

And if that wasn’t enough to make your blood run cold, Emre discovered a bone-chilling note from Anton before leaving Mexico, which read, “REMEMBER OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS PROFESSIONAL. YOU ARE PAID IN FUEL. YOU WILL BE FINE.” Emre was left reeling, realizing that he had placed his trust in a monster.

Once again Emre… please avoid clichés. At no stage in reading your submission did my “blood run cold”. Blood only ‘runs cold’ when people die, and the only way someone could die from reading your story is from laughing. Revise please. Same with “bone-chilling”. Re the message from Anton, were you “paid in fuel”, or did you perhaps mean ‘paid in full’? Please clarify. If you did mean “paid in fuel” can you please explain how you got it on an airplane and then carried it through customs.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Emre was forced into filming explicit content by a website owner who trafficked in such material. He faced gun threats, hacking, and equipment theft in a foreign land and found himself stranded at LAX airport for days, unable to access his travel documents upon returning to the U.S.

Things can always get worse, Emre. Take, for example, your writing. As for you being “forced into filming explicit content by a website owner”… if I’m honest with you, what it actually sounds like is that you got high on ‘some mysterious pink powder’ and ended up ‘getting your c*ck out’, and now you’re having ‘performer’s remorse’. Could you please forward the ‘trafficked material’ for review. Also, you can be threatened with a gun, but you can’t ‘face gun threats’, because they’re inanimate objects. And if you’re stranded at LAX airport “for days”, technically you’re what’s known as “homeless”. This is an entirely predictable outcome for people who go on international drug-fuelled sex benders. Please consider revising.

Anton’s actions resulted in cruel harassment and death threats from strangers, leaving Emre feeling helpless and alone. But in a brave move, Emre decided to share his story to raise awareness for survivors of sexual assault and to inspire others to come forward and seek help.

If by “cruel harassment and death threats from strangers” you’re referring to the fact people reacted badly to being humbugged for spare change at LAX from a homeless person on an international drug-fuelled sex bender, then just come straight out and say that. Also, don’t refer to yourself as “brave”. Please see earlier comment about narcissism. Also also, you should definitely seek help.

This shocking account of Emre’s experience is a wake-up call to all travellers and social media influencers out there. The tale of deceit, violence, and abuse will leave you speechless, and it’s a reminder that we must be vigilant and cautious when traveling abroad. Join Emre in standing up against monsters like Anton and create a safer, more just world for all!

I’m sorry Emre, but this is not a “wake-up” call for anyone about anything, not least of all for “social media influencers”, most of whom can’t read. Nor, as you can see, has your “tale” left me speechless. What we really have here is a potentially humourous tale about an emotionally vapid young man who had a wild overseas jaunt, and lost his pants. Figuratively and literally. Speaking of which, I’m going to need more evidence of the crimes you allege have been committed than just pictures of you and some non-descript middle-aged man naked, and another of the same man now wearing a green tracksuit with you inexplicably sitting on his lap on a plane, next to an obviously empty seat. Also, referring to Anton as a “monster” and claiming you’re standing up for a “safer, more just world for all” makes you sound like a five-year-old whose just seen their first Disney film. Consider changing please.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.