In recent weeks, Josh Ostrovsky, a.k.a. The Fat Jewish, a.k.a. The Fat Jew, has emerged as a sort of millennial boogeyman, taking all of the internet’s darkest, laziest, most attention-whoring impulses and manifesting them into one marginally talented loudmouth with ridiculous hair. The main charge against Ostrovsky is that he is a habitual joke thief, taking quips other people have posted on Twitter and Instagram and reposting them—frequently verbatim—without giving credit to the original author in a particularly egregious example of the dreaded “content aggregation.”
Now Ostrovsky has told his side of the story in an exclusive interview with Vulture, in which he refers to his schtick of scamming his way onto VIP guest lists by making a spectacle of himself as “performance art” and himself as a “Renaissance man of pop culture.” (It’s fine that he doesn’t attribute the content on his Instagram page, because he sat in a hot tub full of pasta one time. Performance art!) He also referred to his brand of rosé, twice.
If Ostrovsky has any real feelings about all the shit that’s been thrown his way online lately, he’s hiding them beneath a thick protective layer of irony. In the interview, he refers to his “army of interns working out of the back of a nail salon in Queens … I need them to bathe me” and says, “I was drinking a daiquiri nude and looking at the internet” by way of explaining how a tweet by comedian Davon Magwood ended up on his Instagram account verbatim. He goes on:
I don’t think it’s a matter of good or bad. To me, it’s a matter of logistics. It’s a matter of trying to make it right. He reached out and was like, “Dude,” and I was like, “Dude,” and gave him credit. That’s what I want. I’m into funny stuff, and he’s probably a really funny guy. I want him to get followers, and he got followers off that.
In the interview, Ostrovsky does say that he and his mysterious “interns”—whom one can only assume are even more insufferable than he is—will no longer post jokes without attribution on any of the Fat Jew social media accounts. He also says that they are going back through all of his previous posts and attempting to find the original authors in order to add attribution. (He says that people whose work he has re-posted can email him for a credit.) “I will never again post something that doesn’t have attribution, because I realize now that when the stage is large enough, and the voice is large enough, these things matter,” he says.
But it’s kind of hard to take him seriously—just in general, given his jokey responses, and when he responds to a direct question about whether he’s ever stolen a joke with this:
I mean 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. I’d like to set the standard. If I’m the person who has been made to realize that, then everybody else can follow.
Did he mention he has his own brand of rosé?