As of last week, Jeremy Meeks is suddenly Internet famous—but definitely not the kind of famous you want to be. The 30-year-old Stockton man was arrested along with three others last week and booked on weapons charges. But it’s not the arrest that’s gathering the most attention— it’s Meeks himself.
After the Stockton Police Department posted his mug shot on their Facebook page, comments began flooding in. Exclamations of “OMG, he’s so hot” and “Baby, you’re such a hunk,” peppered the feed, and viral fame soon followed.
And then came the backlash—rightfully so. Why was a convicted felon with a history of assault suddenly the Internet’s object of desire? Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams called the Meeks mugshot sensation the “most depressing meme ever” and “a chance to make our gender look a little dumber.” Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert joked that Meeks’ image gives “hope for America’s broken prison system.”
Here’s what we know about the man who blew up the Internet.
His rap sheet
This isn’t Meeks’ first run-in with the law: In 2002, he was arrested and served two years for grand theft of a person (a slightly lesser charge than robbery). In 2005, he was caught stealing from a Spokane sporting goods store. After workers cornered him, he began threatening them with assault, saying, “I’ll f— you all up, I’ll mess you up.” Eventually, a store security guard doused Meeks with a can of pepper spray ending the confrontation, and Meeks ended up serving 71 days in jail.
Last week, Meeks was arrested after he and three other men departed a home that was about to be raided and were charged with felony weapons possession. His bail, which was originally set at $900,000, was recently upped to $1 million. He has also been associated in the past with several violent, gang-related crimes.
His wife is less-than-thrilled about all of the attention.
Jeremy Meeks may not mind the viral sensation his mug shot has caused, but his wife is furious. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you don’t see her at all in the cameras, because she’s upset,” said friend Simone Johnson. “She’s furious her man is in there and people are taking it as a joke, thinking it’s funny talking about his looks, saying all kinds of crazy things.”
Meeks’ mother, Katherine Angier, on the other hand, has decided to make the best of the situation: Angier has set up a fundraising page to help pay for the $25,000 her son needs in legal expenses.
Meeks has supporters. A lot of supporters.
It seems there’s a fan page for pretty much everything these days and Jeremy Meeks is no exception. A Facebook user immediately set up a fan page the day after Meeks’ mugshot was released, a move that has subsequently racked up over 190,000 “likes” and a slew of criticism from the online community. “The women who think that this guy is hot are only fueling the fire of criminals and crime, and if they’re too ignorant to realize that, then they deserve him,” wrote one commenter on the fan page.
But the warnings don’t stem the flow of rabid supporters who insist that there is nothing wrong with admiring him from afar. “All the guys are just jealous due to his good looks,” wrote another commenter.
Many of his supporters have even gone so far as to Photoshop his face onto different mock fashion ads, swapping out his plain t-shirt for a Hugo Boss suit or a Givenchy jacket.
According to TMZ, Meeks has already received an offer from Blaze Modelz representatives who claim he could easily be making 15-30k a month booking gigs with high-end fashion houses like Versace and Armani. “Gangster models” are apparently very popular muses these days, they say.
Whatever happens next to Meeks, whom the Stockton Police have called “one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area,” is up for debate. But the argument over whether all of this attention is deserved considering who he is and what he has done is a story that refuses to go away. Should we be obsessing over a convicted felon? Not according to Williams over at Salon, who writes: “Hot or not? I don’t even want to have to explain why this is yet another messed-up example of women participating in our own degradation.”