In 2015, a video of an angry and demanding woman walking up to a Barnes & Noble counter, known as ‘Crazy Chick Flips Out in Barnes & Noble,’ made the rounds on social media. But it just came across our screens again, and it’s as good as the first time.
In the video, the woman becomes livid when she finds out that the store doesn’t have the book she wants, Misery’s Child by Paul Sheldon, in stock. She then spells the author’s name out for the cashier, to no avail, and freaks out when he says he hasn’t heard of the nonexistent author she’s looking for.
So if he doesn’t exist, who exactly is Paul Sheldon? He’s the main character in Stephen King’s novel Misery, and this infuriated woman is actually channeling her inner Annie Wilkes, Kathy Bates’ character in the Misery film for which she won an Oscar.
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In the 1987 psycho-thriller novel, best-selling Victorian romance author Paul Sheldon finds himself in a car wreck and is rescued by Wilkes, a nurse and his “number one fan.” A disturbed Wilkes finds fault with Sheldon’s literary choices, especially when it comes to Misery’s Child, and holds him captive and tortures him.
In the video, we see several stunned Barnes & Noble shoppers who were probably wondering whether this woman’s temper tantrum was real—and when the video first came out in 2011, many viewers wondered the same thing. It turns out that it was all just a promotion stunt, created by Generic Theater—“Virginia’s Underground Theater”—to promote their 2011 stage play of Misery. It’s a curious thing why the video went viral in 2015, four years after it was made and the play ended.
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Maybe it’s because the woman in the video was so dedicated to her role that she left some people believing her freak-out was genuine. Or maybe the video’s success is due to the fact that it’s amusing to watch the other shoppers’ reactions in the background. Or perhaps the real appeal is the dramatic irony of knowing that Paul Sheldon doesn’t exist, yet the cashier tries so hard to find him.
Regardless, the video still makes us laugh—and that’s all that matters.
Featured still from "Misery" via Castle Rock Entertainment