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Best of Boston 2009

Coping with Internet infamy

Have mercy on me
By MIKE MILIARD  |  November 17, 2006

Here’s a rule of thumb: if the teenage mouse potatoes who spend their lives on YouTube are laughing at you, chances are you aren’t going to be taken too seriously by the brass at the big investment bank. It’s a lesson Aleksey Vayner has learned to his profound chagrin.

You may have heard about the Yale senior who filmed a preposterously arrogant “motivational CV video,” titled Impossible Is Nothing, and sent it off to UBS Investment Bank with a job application, whereupon it was leaked online — to the uproarious delight of Wall Street and the blogosphere.

The six-minute clip shows Vayner lifting weights (495 pounds — with the help of three spotters), playing tennis (a serve dubiously clocked at 140 mph), skiing (footage he later admitted couldn’t be proven with 100 percent certainty to be him), ballroom dancing, smashing bricks, and otherwise kicking ass at life.

“Many believe that successful people are lucky,” Vayner intones. “I completely disagree with that notion.”

It’s safe to say that Vayner didn’t expect the video to crop up on YouTube, to the accompaniment of merciless e-cackling: “Yale Education: $250,000. Dance Lessons: $500. Finding out what people really think about you because your video lands on YouTube . . . Priceless!!”

Vayner says he’s considering legal action against UBS, charging — according to, which has been mercilessly mocking the “titanic douchebag” almost since day one — that the video’s leak has “put me and my family under a great amount of stress and greatly affected future employment in a negative sense.”

Then there’s the case of Brian Atene, another colossal ego laid bare in a leaked video — this one made back in 1983, when he was 20 years old and responding to open auditions for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

In a mincingly enunciated, almost faux-English accent, Atene informs the director that he’s Juilliard trained, that’s he’s better looking than many, and that “I like to think of myself as a young Alec Guinness.”

Then he unleashes his screen test, “loosely based” on the scene in The Outsiders where Johnny’s talking to Ponyboy in his hospital bed. It’s astoundingly awful. Adopting a horrific hillbilly accent, Atene squints, writhes, and yowls. “I aiiin’t gonn’ waaalk agiiin! The docturr sez ah broke mah back!!!”

“He should be saying, ‘I ain’t ever gonna act again,’ ” clucks one YouTuber. “He’s got guts,” concedes another. “But sometimes that’s not enough.”

Then, last Friday, Brian Atene — or at least a man claiming to be Brian Atene — resurfaced, 23 years later. In a new video, his voice a bit deeper but still with impeccable diction, he admits to being “a little older . . . perhaps a little wiser.” (He’s definitely a lot heavier.)

And rather than play victim, “Brian Atene” lets loose. One moment, he’s an Old Vic thespian aping R. Lee Ermey’s drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. (“What is your maaaaaaaaaaajor malfunction, numbnuuuuuts?”) The next, he’s the Saigon hooker, played like Lear, raging on the heath: “Me so hooorrny! Me so hooorrny!! Me love you long time!!!”

It is pure kitsch. And pure unadulterated genius.

But is it the real Brian Atene? First, a message sent to his YouTube account went unanswered. And then, on Tuesday, someone else, using the screen name “juilliardropout” posted beneath the original Atene audition: “I’m Brian Atene. I’m your Walter Mitty. . . . I’m still as over-the-top as Shatner’s waistline. . . . I’ll tell you the complete and amazing history of this astonishingly bad audition tape. Yep. Brian Atene is making another video.”

Awesome. Aleksey Vayner should take notes.

Related: Code yellow, Second Life P-town: Dick Dock, but no Lance Bass!, Must warn others, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Alec Guinness, Aleksey Vayner, Culture and Lifestyle,  More more >
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