#2. "Chinese People Keep Dying From World Cup Addiction!"
Although the concept of loving soccer so bad that it hurts is familiar to everyone in the United States, once again China has taken one of our dearest traditions (previously it was "hating Christmas shopping") to fatal extremes:
It's like the 2011 Badminton World Championship all over again.
First three-way car fucking, and now this? Can those adorable clowns do anything without getting hurt? The story has spread like some kind of sports-related fever from the Daily Mail, Yahoo, and International Business Times to such Posts as the Huffington and Washington varieties -- the latter of which has flat out declared "World Cup stress" as a Chinese killer by also linking to several heart attacks and suicides that occurred during the games. One man "was found dead in his room with the World Cup playing on the computer."
Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images
Japan is already working on a Ring-esque movie with this as the villain.
It's not until you realize that the suicides are gambling related (an extremely common problem everywhere), the heart attack was a 51-year-old man with heart problems, and the "over-excitement" was an unsure and unsourced quote on a Chinese tabloid that it becomes painfully clear that they could cherry pick these stories from any country, but they choose China because they're convinced the leading cause of death in the country is Bugs Bunny wackiness.
#1. "Boy, Those Chinese Sure Are Gullible!"
Somewhere down the endless line of chuckling news fables framing China as a magical land of gullible sex monsters, something amazing happened: We started to become the thing we were gawking at.
That's a story kicking around from March concluding that Chinese people are just so dumb that they will buy an empty bucket for tons of cash. The irony being that the media were gullible enough to think that was a real story, even though it originally came from something called "Searchina.net." It does seem like someone is trying to sell magic buckets in China for around $90 a piece, but as we keep trying to remind journalists, there's a difference between "Someone is selling something outrageous!" and "Everyone's buying it!"
But that's small potatoes compared to this:
Bullshit, we know a dyed panda when we see one.
That would be NPR joining hordes of American and international news sites covering the Chinese zoo that stupidly tried to pass off a dog as a lion, the patrons only realizing something was wrong when it started barking. Even the fucking BBC accepted the narrative that no one in China could tell a dog from a lion until it opened its mouth, and a zoo was desperately trying to cover that fact up. EVERYONE had a laugh, including CNN, Yahoo, BuzzFeed, Gawker, Today, and pretty much the entire Internet. Heck, Metro even ran a headline saying that the zoo also tried to pass off rats as snakes, because there's no other reason that rats might be put in a pen of reptiles, right?
Then again, when you look at this picture of the dog, you almost believe it could have worked:
But, of course, that's not the dog. That's a stock photo that site used. Here's the real "lion dog":
This guy couldn't pass for a poodle.
Huh. How did that fool anyone? It didn't: The story boils down to a local woman and her kid going to the zoo and seeing a dog in the lion cage, complaining, and being told by the zoo that they took the lion out to mate. No one was tricked; no one was wringing hands and waiting for the sweet bait and switch to pay off. In the end, the much bigger story is the fact that, for one day, the biggest news sites in the Western world all simultaneously became temporarily impeded by their own insatiable need to feel slightly superior to a country that's going to take over the world while we all laugh at how shitty their dogs look.