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In the clip above from the Monday evening broadcast of Orlando, Fla., news 6 television, former “American Trucker” TV series host Robb Mariani hits back after being run through the social-media ringer. The segment follows the creation of a meme shared to an “Everything for men” Facebook page (typically dominated by borderline pornographic imagery) that utilized a picture of Mariani in Jerry Howard’s custom Autocar.
All well and good there, but for the message equating being a “real trucker” with hitting hitchhikers with urine bottles thrown out the window at highway speeds that covered it’s top and bottom.
Mariani, who uses Facebook somewhat sporadically, he says, began hearing about it via text messages from friends and associates as it made the rounds of the Internet.
He promptly responded with his own version of the meme:
To give you an idea of the image’s virality, it had been shared more than 15,000 times, Mariani says, with thousands of comments, by the time he got wind of it. Since the News 6 segment aired, it appears to have been removed from the original page where it was posted. But it unfortunately lives on via the many shares it has gotten — here’s a link showing the comments on what appears to be the original.
Likewise, a group that near-immediately sprung up following Mariani’s initial response on Facebook remains. The group Robb Mariani Super Trucker Meme Page, administered by Facebook accounts associated with the names Marc Azar, Jack E. Coyle and Garrett Basista, remains.
If you know anything about Mariani, you know that indeed he’s not a real trucker, but one thing he has done in spades, through his former television show and ongoing efforts, is attempt to cast trucking, and truckers in particular, in a positive light, as a general rule, while capturing the reality of a variety of aspects and segments of the industry.
While he worried particularly about how the imagery purveyed by the Everything for Men page, using his likeness and his photo, could give children the wrong idea about just what Robb Mariani thinks, he admits he does have a sense of humor, and given how much of this had moved out of his control, he threw up his hands for a brief time.
But a conversation followed with a friend of a paraplegic/former road construction worker who was himself so afflicted after being struck in the head with a bottle full of urine. That spurred him further. “I said, ‘That’s it.’ I said, ‘I’ll go out there,'” Mariani says. Free speech is all well and good, he says, but why “should you be allowed to make a page from me, and rip off more photographs? How does Facebook allow this to happen at the expense of someone’s reputation? I’m not bulletproof. But I’m much closer to bulletproof than a high-school kid that might blow his brains out. Whatever the case is, I can’t have it.”
Watch News 6’s report via this video above, or follow this link to an accompanying story on their website.
And stay tuned for a new series, long in the works, he says. With 13 episodes in the bag, “we’re working on three other shows,” he says, and pitching what he describes as “American Trucker on steroids” to networks.