Atticus is a popular Instagram poet with more than a million followers, whose “thing” is wearing a mask to hide his identity (a former reality TV star). He’s been called out as a plagiarist, though he continues to publish books. Now he’s being called out for allegedly profiteering during a pandemic.
A glance at Atticus’ Instagram shows he’s still producing terrible poetry, and on Wednesday he posted a link to purchase face masks, ostensibly to protect yourself and others from coronavirus, as the CDC recently recommended. “For every mask sold, we will be donating a medical mask to a local hospital or healthcare professional,” the caption reads. “We are in this together.”
While some commenters applauded this or claimed they’d ordered, others expressed anger over him making a profit off a global pandemic, as there was not much clarification on the post. On his website (where he sells clothing, books, and wine), he’s charging $12 for one cotton mask, or $30 for for three. It doesn’t note whether any of the profits will go to healthcare workers, just that “a medical mask” will be donated to “a local hospital or healthcare worker in Los Angeles” for every cotton mask purchased.
It’s also not clear if this means he’s donating medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) that so many other people are lacking right now, and if so, how he was able to get it. Many wondered why he doesn’t just donate the medical masks anyway. (In addition to a lack of clarification, he was also accused of deleting comments.)
He’s not the only person accused of grifting during the pandemic: Last month, the New York Times profiled a Tennessee man who was hoarding items like hand sanitizer (and was later forced to donate them after being contacted by the state’s attorney general), and celebrities, politicians, and media personalities have all been accused of trying to profit in some way. Last month, Facebook banned ads for face masks, though it later apologized for flagging pages and groups that were donating them.
We’ve reached out for comment and clarification.
*First Published: Apr 10, 2020, 1:41 pm
Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, and she focuses on streaming, comedy, and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch, and the Village Voice. She is based in Austin, Texas.