Everybody's got an opinion these days about What's Wrong With Our Society, and the best story fakers know just how to cater to it. Joey Skaggs, professional story faker, constantly pushes the right buttons in an attempt to prove some point about the media or something.
For example, he created a fake service called the "Fat Squad" that fat people could hire to follow them around and hit them if they strayed from their diet. The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Good Morning America all did stories on the Fat Squad because it's obviously so true that we fat Americans today have so little willpower to keep from stuffing food in our mouths that we need to hire bodyguards to stop us. This is a concrete and colorful example of what a shameful extreme lazy, fat America has come to, while children in Africa are starving.
On a slow news day, you just put this on the front page and "AMERICA STILL FAT" as the headline and you're good to go.
Or take the segment of society that "just knows" how the bleeding heart liberals foolishly coddle the homeless. So when they hear about an organization purporting to "arm the homeless" with guns, people like Rush Limbaugh completely accept it because it's just the sort of thing the liberals would do. Even CNN bought it. It was of course, a hoax by three college students.
And would the city of Los Angeles really spend $1 billion on jetpacks for cops and paramedics? Sure, those zany West Coast people will do anything! They are just that faddish! See what we said about government waste!
And everyone who ranted about the intrusiveness of the TSA pat-downs found it perfectly natural that one such pat-down would bring a guy to orgasm. And we all know our country is plagued by crazy conservative people who see indecency in any innocent thing, so there's no reason to doubt that a campaign to put clothes on all animals would be anything but serious.
I think the warning here is that if a news story ever makes you want to go, "See?" to someone else, you had better take a second look.
JT LeRoy was a teenager who emerged from a horrible childhood of sexual abuse, drug addiction, prostitution and homelessness, to write some very well-received books about his harrowing experiences. He became a correspondent for the New York Times.
He never existed.
If your first thought was, "That is clearly a lady there," you are ahead of a lot of publishers and celebrities.
He was a manufactured character whose writing came from author Laura Albert and who was physically played by Albert's sister-in-law Savannah Knoop, wearing a lot of sunglasses and hats. Neither appeared to have been raped or lived on the street, which is a good thing in the long run, but left the audience feeling a bit ripped off.
If you think about why it took so long to discover, well, after listening to a story like that, who wants to be the one to suggest to that person that they might be lying? Even if you were 99 percent sure they were full of it, can you imagine what a tool you would feel like if it somehow turned out to all be true?
You'd probably have to wear something like this.
Maybe that's why people were hesitant to confront Janet Cooke when she wrote about Jimmy the 8-year-old heroin addict. Instead, they gave her a Pulitzer Prize, while city officials tried to hunt down the kid to try to save him. It was only when their well-meaning efforts turned up no such kid that they started to call her on it. Before the search it would have been really hard to question her without looking like the bad guy.
It's especially horrible because the fakers are relying on the best things in human nature -- generosity, compassion, trust -- to get away with their lies. One of the worst examples of this is cancer fakers, people with what I can only assume are severe mental issues that pretend to have cancer (even shaving their heads) in order to get money and sympathy from friends and strangers. One woman got her dream wedding and honeymoon paid for that way.
Did you know the average American wedding costs $27,800? It's a bald-faced scam is what it is.
Sometimes we're easy targets because of the bad side of our human nature, but sometimes because we are good. I guess we just have to figure out how to be more wily while still staying good.
When I say "Japan," you might think of the earthquake first, maybe some anime, maybe ninjas, maybe that douche at work that has a kanji tattoo but doesn't know what it means. But soon enough you will think of some weird news item like schoolgirl panties in vending machines or kissing robots.
Diginfo.tv via The Huffington Post
We've just accepted that anything is possible in foreign countries, so naturally the New York Times and The Guardian have no problem reporting that LED lights in people's mouths are the new trend in Japan, without checking it or anything.
And of course one of those lovable Indians with the cute accents would sue Axe/Lynx body spray because he really thought it would physically attract women to him, and was upset to find out it didn't. Because foreigners are very literal! You always have to explain expressions to them. They think cows are sacred, of course they think body sprays are magic potions!
They think our commercials are documentaries. Like space aliens do.
And not only are foreign people capable of anything, foreign locations are capable of adhering to completely different laws of physics. It was kind of touching to see news sources as disparate as Fox News and The Huffington Post come together to placidly accept that some kind of scientific phenomenon (in China) could create (not reflect) the image of an entire, detailed city out of fog and water.
From ITN video
That whole thing was supposed to be a mirage.
It took a blogger to catch that there had been a mistranslation of a Chinese report on the images being filmed, which were supposed to show the devastation of a massive flood, which would explain why they look exactly like video footage of a flood. The Chinese passerby being interviewed thought it looked like a "fairyland" because the city was fucking submerged in water and shrouded in fog, not because it appeared out of nowhere.
The news outlets went to experts, who, instead of saying, "That's not a mirage, you dumbass," tried to explain it using known phenomena like "fata morgana," which at best can only make vague shadowy shapes.
This is a real "fata morgana" mirage. Notice they don't come in color.
Try Googling for "Chinese mirage" even now though, and you'll still find tons of news sites presenting it as real, trying to explain it or asking, "Could this be a real?" and pretty much nothing explaining that it was a mistake. Nope, all the news outlets just tried to stop talking about it and hoped no one would ever mention it again.
For more from Christina, check out 5 Topics Guaranteed to Elicit (Condescending) Advice and 6 Secret Monopolies You Didn't Know Run the World.