The world of social media can be very cruel; the anonymity and ease of communication synonymous with much of online communication can create a chilling impersonality that makes it very easy to mock and deride. That facet of the online world emerged in full force when Emanuel Santos produced a CR7 bust for the opening of the Cristiano Ronaldo airport in Madeira. The memes were endless and it very quickly evolved into a viral phenomenon. To be sure, the intent was to engage in humor and comedy, but, in the process, the internet forgot the person behind the bust (guilty as charged). In an effort to reclaim the humanity of the artist and to give Santos a shot at redemption, Bleacher Report conducted a touching interview that talked through Emanuel’s journey and the difficult social media aftermath.
A year ago today, Emanuel Santos’ Cristiano Ronaldo bust was unveiled. The world laughed at him.— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 29, 2018
We challenged him to try again. He accepted. pic.twitter.com/TLV1iJv1MN
There are many guilt-inducing moments in the interview: the innocent passion with which Emanuel took on the project, Santos’ wife bursting into tears over how hard the days following the creation of the bust were, and Santos stopping the interview so he could regain control of his emotions, but the perhaps the most striking part came when people criticized the statue without realizing the creator was standing right next to them. This clever piece of journalism put a face to the meme and revealed the brazenness with which people will judge and mock when under the illusion that they are not face-to-face with another human being. The immediate shame one man felt, when it was revealed to him that the artist was standing right there, is clearly symbolic of our collective reaction when forced to confront the man behind the bust. Perhaps it will prompt us into reconsidering the way in which we ridicule from behind screens (or perhaps not).
Regardless, Santos’ reaction to the criticism was admirable. Urged to give it another shot by the oblivious critics, he set to work making another bust. Spending his own time and money, he meticulously sculpted his desired figure in clay, and then flew to another part of Portugal to have it fired. After hours of work and patience, he finally cracked open a wooden box and peered at his second creation.
29.03.2017 vs. 29.03.2018— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 29, 2018
Emmanuel Santos' shot at redemption. pic.twitter.com/A91RjDJCOF
Second time’s the charm.
Here is the full Bleacher Report piece on Santos.