Four friends who went viral thanks to a picture on a night out say one of their mums was abused by trolls amid an internet pile on.
‘Lads in jeans’ Jamie Phillips, Alex Lacey, Kevin Rooney and Connor Humpage – known for an image of them in tight fitting clothing – have spoken out about the impact their online fame has had on their mental health, after being widely mocked in various memes.
The quartet, from Coventry and Birmingham, saw the funny side of the situation while on Good Morning Britain on Monday, but revealed that they have had to put up with personal abuse including calls to a work phone.
The friends’ picture, taken in Birmingham in 2019, has recently returned to prominence, with many people poking fun at the boys’ tight-fitting jeans and their ‘Love Island look’.
However, the group say there has been a more sinister side to the mockery, with Alex saying trolls even targeted his mother after the picture was falsely linked to racist views.
He explained: ‘My work number got released so I started getting loads of prank calls.
‘That really affected me. With personal and work, you wanna keep it separate… so it did have a massive effect on my mental state to be quite honest.’
He added: ‘I had to come off social media because they even went into my mum’s comments, started leaving troll comments. It wasn’t nice.’
Alex said he had taken the brunt of the abuse, while Jamie laughed that he ‘had enjoyed every minute’ of the fame, which came after Connor posted the shot on Instagram with the caption ‘tight trousers chose us’.
The group previously told The Tab that the image had been used as a visual representation for ‘lads’ with bigoted views.
Examples include the picture being used alongside ‘quotes’ trivialising the death of George Floyd, which read: ‘It’s sad what ‘appened to that black geezer in America but all this rioting and looting is just not on mate.’
Yet they say their brush with online fame has taken a happier turn in recent weeks.
Kevin explained: ‘After about three, four months we started seeing memes about us… just literally mocking us.
‘And we were just getting hate, mockery, for probably the last year.
‘Only until now, the last couple of weeks, it has sort of all turned and we are all suddenly getting a lot of love.’
Appearing on Good Morning Britain, where they were gently teased about ‘not wearing socks’ or finding jeans that fitted them, the group hinted about performing on the back of their new-found fame.
Laughing that they were actually wearing trainer socks and did not regret their choice of clothing, they hinted that they would be open to ‘opportunities in the future’ – with Piers Morgan suggesting they could show up at clubs and do ‘a fashion parade’.
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