Even as cricket will at last get its day in the sun at Lord’s on Sunday when England play New Zealand in the World Cup final, its loyal community around the world is tailspinning into chaos, after a Kiwi comedian claimed she received a sexually explicit message from someone from the Reddit cricket community.
Strangely enough, Melanie Bracewell, the award-winning comedian later confessed that the erotic, graphic account was fake – that she wrote it herself, as a “joke” -- meant to encourage others to send their own versions of erotic cricket stories to an “Alternative Commentary Collective”.
The fake message was posted by her on Twitter and is a vivid account of a fantasy involving sex in a bar toilet as the Kiwis triumphed in their semi-final debacle over India.
The tweet said: "Oh my God I commented on the cricket subreddit and got this private message my lord."
Bracewell was in the commentary box with the collective when she posted the tweet and admitted to its false nature, only after a Reddit moderator contacted her asking her for details of the sender.
Things completely slipped out of hands at a point when an Indian writer who goes by the name of Nandini, claimed on Twitter that she misread the tweet deep in the night, only to end up assuming that the message to Bracewell was written by an Indian man. The writer implied that the syntax of the Tweet, replete with spelling and pronunciation errors led her to believe that it was written by someone from Indian origin.
As her messages caught the attention of the all-encompassing eye of Twitter, users started to harmonise with each other and began lambasting men from not just India, but the entire South Asian region, for their unwarranted advances at women that are usually obscene in nature and are deeply misogynistic in essence.
Nandini, too, wrote that she received death threats and rape threats for her Tweet, and was bullied by scores of Indian men in rapid succession.
Bracewell, who till now had not anticipated the resounding impact of her irresponsible joke, came out to admit that her Tweet was fabricated in nature.
In her apology to the Reddit community, Bracewell wrote that she "seriously did not expect this to blow up the way it did".
"I'm a comedian and I was commentating on the ACC (Alternative Commentary Collective) at the time. We made jokes about some weird texts we got on the text line of cricket horndogs. Thought it would be funny to post something to prompt some more erotic fanfiction on the show (very on theme for the commentary),” she said.
After it ended up being "far more intense and hilarious" than she expected she decided to put it on social media, further claiming that she was in an inebriated state when she wrote that.
"[I] thought it was funnier to imply it was out of the blue (honestly quite drunk and sleep deprived), hence why I blacked out the name, honestly didnt even think about the culture of the cricket subreddit or bringing the community into disrepute.”
"Genuinely was just a laugh. But I'd like to genuinely apologise. I didnt think it through properly and it's not something I'd do again,” Bracewell added.
However, the online response to the comedienne’s admission and apology has been unforgiving. Bracewell posted an apology to Reddit, but users challenged her to do the same on Twitter — where she has since deleted her account.
"She should post this apology on Twitter as well where it was originally posted, to that same audience. Not only did it defame this subreddit and every member, but this false story was used by another Twitter user to make a racist and misandrist [sic] point about men from India," a Reddit user wrote.
Others called her out for making callous jokes about a serious issue like sexual harassment.
Another wrote: "When people make up stories like this, it becomes ammo for mysoginists and apologizes [sic] in future".
In face of the severe backlash, Bracewell has disabled her Twitter account, along with her Facebook, Instagram handle and has also disabled her official website.