The Best Instant Celebrities of 2011

2011 was a great year for instafame. With cameras and Twitter users providing blanket coverage of each big news story, the whole world became a potential micro-celebrity. Let's take some time to remember 2011's best flash-in-the-pan celebrities, and then forget about them, forever.

Benni Cinkle, The Girl In Pink

In past years, Rebecca Black could have qualified as a flash in a pan. But in 2011, her month or so of notoriety was practically an entire era. Instead, Benni Cinkle, an unassuming video extra, was the real flash-in-the-pan of the "Friday" phenomenon. You know Benni, even if you don't: She sat in the backseat Rebecca Black famously famously picked in "Friday," and danced an awkward dance, which became an animated .gif, which became a meme. Cinkle smartly nurtured her tiny flame of attention, earning a flattering New York Times profile, and a mini career as a feel-good tween idol, That Girl In Pink. I want to know what happened to that other girl in the backseat.

The Guy Who Live-Tweeted the Osama bin Laden Raid

The major theme among this year's flash-in-the-pans is: Fame through coincidental proximity to historical events. So it was with twitter user @ReallyVirtiual aka Sohaib Athar. The Pakistani IT consultant unwittingly live-tweeted the raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad complex in May. In the hours after the raid, as information was scarce, Athar was inundated by requests for interviews and gained 70,000 followers. All the attention attracted hackers, who hit his personal website.

The Vancouver Riot-Kissing Couple

That the couple apparently staging a romantic make out session in the middle of the Vancouver hockey riots turned out to have actually been laid-out by a police charge doesn't change the picture's iconic status. Though when the couple behind the kiss got their newspaper profile they turned out to be typically boring Candians. Oh well. Cool photo.

Tamtampamela, the Earthquake Troll

For a brief moment last year, the internet was united as one by its hatred for Tampa resident "Pamela Foreman." When she posted a video praising God for the horrific Japan earthquake, she managed to enrage both believers and non-believers alike. Turns out she was just a troll; after her Tsunami video blew up, a shaken "Pamela" revealed she had been faking the whole thing and signed off forever. Hopefully nobody did to her all the horrible things they said they would in YouTube comments.

The Three Cops of Occupy Wall Street

Many Occupy Wall Street protesters were propelled to instafame this fall. (Remember Caitlin Curran?) But three cops captured the world's attention more than any Occupier: Pepper Spray Cop John Pike became a powerful meme after he hosed down peaceful UC Davis protesters. NYPD's Hipster Cop Rick Lee became a fashion icon, with a GQ spread and everything, after I wrote a short post about him on my personal blog. And another Pepper Spray Cop, NYPD's Anthony Balogna, sparked the ire of Anonymous, and a million "Tony Balogna" jokes after he hosed down a few female protesters with pepper spray for no apparent reason.