NY Times Asks Impossible Question: "What Is Florida Man?"

The Grey Lady has discovered Florida Man.

In an essay about Florida's most famous export after cocaine and oranges, the Times sets out to discover the deeper meaning behind Florida Man with support from writers Dan Barry and Carl Hiassen as well as filmmaker Billy Corben. And while these Florida men are able to give some insight into the meaning of Florida Man, the mystery of what compels the weird tales of violence, mayhem, and insanity in the Sunshine State is still unresolved. But there are some good theories. The drugs, the heat, the variety of cultures living near one another but not really with one another. It's all likely a part of the reason why Florida Man is a thing: 

Roy Black, a prominent lawyer who has represented his fair share of Florida Men and Women — the kind loaded with money — said he had put some thought into why Florida breeds or inspires its own brand of crime and criminals. He said it is partly the polarized nature of the state — very poor to very rich, very liberal to very conservative. It is partly the state’s cavorting culture — South Beach, spring break, half-naked people, late-night clubs. And it is partly the legions of immigrants from Cuba, South America, Central America and Haiti who sometimes import their old-country vendettas. “Where else do you get retired torturers from Argentina?” Mr. Black asked.

And as Corben tells the Times, there's also a DGAF attitude in Florida that helps, as well.

“As long as the Champagne is flowing and the checks are clearing,” he said, “nobody asks a lot of questions here about anything.”
The Times article isn't the first mainstream media exploration into Florida Man. NPR was actually one of the first to ask, "Who is Florida Man?" after the Twitter handle, which now has more than 270,000 followers, was first created. 

"Each Tweet quotes a real live headline about someone from the Sunshine State who has strayed from the straight and narrow," said NPR's Robert Siegel. "Take them together and you might mistake them for the Chronicle's exploits of the world's worst superhero."

Since then, Florida Man has grown in infamy — and reader clicks. A popular subreddit is r/FloridaMan, which allows people to submit the latest Florida Man stories. The subreddit has a rule that no satirical articles can be posted because "Florida Man doesn't need help to be ridiculous."

And then there's the "Florida Man" documentary released earlier this year that interviews several specimens of this social media-friendly species.

FLORIDA MAN from Sean Dunne on Vimeo.

But the Times' foray into explaining Florida Man means that the meme has gone mainstream, no longer a cult thing that people giggle, roll their eyes, and scroll to the next news story. No, Florida Man has hit it big. He even has his own beer.

Let's just hope Florida Man doesn't get too full of himself.

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Ray Downs
Contact: Ray Downs