About a year ago he became an internet phenomenon -- to some, anyway. He inspired much of the Photoshopping you will see below. He made a name for himself on youtube, too. And Wikipedia deleted his entry several times.
Who is he? What is he? Where is he?
He's Brian Peppers. Apparently, he's a registered sex offender in Ohio.
He suffers from a condition known as Apert's Syndrome.
Wikipedia describes the condition thus:
"The cranial malformations are the most apparent effects of acrocephalosyndactyly. Cranialsynostosis occurs, with brachiocephaly being the common pattern of growth. Another common characteristic is a high, prominent forehead with a flat posterior skull. Due to the premature closing of the coronal sutures, increased cranial pressure can develop, leading to mental deficiency.
"A flat or concave face may develop as a result of deficient growth in the mid-facial bones, leading to a conditir prognathism. Other features of acrocephalosyndactyly may include shallow bony orbits and broadly spaced eyes. Low-set ears are also a typical characteristic of branchial arch syndromes."
As is painfully obvious from the content of this blog, I am a big fan of unconventional humans (freaks, if you will). My interest is one of intense curiosity. Married to that curiosity is awe. Awe of what? I'm not quite sure. Awe of something different? Awe of that which may never be fully understood?
I was a low level freak myself between the ages of 4 and 9. I wore a filthy, big eye patch over a pair of gigantic, black glasses. It came off only when my head touched the pillow at night. For the first two of those five years, I thought I was hideous.
Maybe I was.
But, so what. Being a hideous freak was better than being one of the sheep. That's the thinking I arrived that. From a very early age, I had zero interest in doing what other people did and being what other people wanted me to be. At school, I painted black figures covered in blood and I put on Dracula plays. I slept in a coffin that once contained a Vulcan oil heater (courtesy of my parents), and I was trailed by a vampire bride named Wendy (possibly my first love).
Being different gave me a buzz. Being the cast, not the audience, took the self-loathing away. There was no space for it once I got busy.
I' having trouble confirming what Senor Peppers actually did to earn his sex offender badge. "Inappropriate touching" was mentioned in one Wiki entry, but details beyond that are sketchy.
The hilarious youtube videos suggest Mr. Peppers is a child molester. Is there proof of that? Was it a child he touched "inappropriately"?
Grisly details are a little difficult to come by.
Clearly, the appearance of Peppers has inspired a community of creative minds. It's hard to put your finger on why exactly Peppers is so fascinating, but I think we're all enthralled by imperfection as much as perfection. Perhaps it's the stuff in the middle that doesn't grab our attention. Is that because most of us live there?
Is it rude to stare at Peppers?
We've always been told that it's rude to stare. That's because staring makes the object of our gaze self-conscious. It affects the way they see themselves. Or is staring a sign of ghoulish curiosity? Can one be too curious? Can curiosity be immoral?
If it is, I'm Satan.
Reality TV is all about staring. Perhaps it's not as rude to stare at the stuff on TV because the stuff on TV can't stare back at you -- not yet, anyway.
We want to stare at Peppers. It's natural. We want to see the two-headed baby, the fattest man in the world, the cancerous tumor dug out of a rusty body, the ten year old boy who has the face of a seventy year old man. We can't turn away. We can't turn away from our human brother or sister.
Is there comfort in thinking that a pedophile looks like Brian Peppers when the truth is most pedophiles look exactly like the guy next door (ourselves). Let's face it -- a guy like Brian Peppers wouldn't get very far grooming a child for sexual purposes because they'd run screaming from him first.
If anything, the Peppers appearance would keep children at bay.
He IS a treat. Perhaps we need him in order to avoid looking at ourselves too closely. It's easier to put a face to our darkness than a question mark.
The truth is, I sympathize with the guy while finding him fascinating. I marvel at his appearance, yet I also acknowledge his personal hell.
Peppers is all of us. He doesn't live next door. He lives in the cerebral cortex of our denial and faux superiority.
We laugh and mock him because he puts a face to the bad stuff we feel (whatever that may be).
It's easier to dislike a face than ourselves.