A San Francisco artist created a sensation last week with her 'Blue Check Homes' project — a made-up designation to signify an "authentic public figure" lives at a residence. Applications rolled in after the artist's Twitter announcement for an architectural emblem to showcase on a home's facade.
Danielle Baskin set up a website for the fake service, drawing traffic from thousands of retweets of her post, and the thread quickly garnered over 40 million impressions. While the artist figured her descriptive copy was "obviously satire," 495 applicants soon sought the crest.
"For verified homeowners, the BLUE CHECK HOMES installation team will secure your home's very own plaster baronial crest for a fee of $2999.99," reads the website. The decorative crest features a blue center with a check mark.
San Francisco's iconic Victorian homes were an inspiration for the project. Baskin noticed that some historic structures sported a heraldic crest and went on to research if the significance was more than decorative. Musing about their meaning, a tweet reminded her that Twitter gives a blue check to verified accounts of public figures. Her project was then born.
“The blue check does not mean you’re wealthy or good at Twitter or are a notable figure, but people still have these assumptions about it. I wanted to make my whole process seem ridiculous to make fun of the verification process,” Baskin told writer Amanda Bartlett on SFGate. With requirements for the crest that become "increasingly absurd," including one qualifier of "Homeowners who are government officials," Baskin's prank resonated with those who realized it was a joke and those who actually sought a "blue check." But the Twitter thread showed that not everyone was in on the joke or read the website thoroughly.
“I think the idea hit a lot of the boxes that anger people: San Francisco’s housing crisis, homeowners, blue checks, the city having dumb startups,” Baskin said to SFGate. “That triggered everyone’s assumptions about the city and it hit their version of reality that made it seem believable."
A disclaimer greets users who read to the bottom of the homepage: "For context, I'm an artist who makes random internet jokes that sometimes pokes fun of "let's turn this into a service" culture, internet vanity culture, and terrible capitalist ideas. Historically, decorative crests found on Victorian homes were a mark to signal wealth and importance and I thought it would be dumb if that concept also existed today. But if it existed today, would you need to be verified by a third party to signal status? Here's the origin of the joke."