In their quest to find new and exciting ways to convince people to watch garbage, 20th Century Fox's marketing department had a stroke of brilliance that turned out to have just been a regular stroke when they came up with a marketing gimmick for their recent a critical and financial failure A Cure For Wellness. They thought it would be fun if they promoted this two-and-a-half-hour horror movie directed by the guy who made two subpar Pirates Of The Caribbean sequels by publishing fake news stories that were barely connected to the plot of the movie. They made websites with believable newspaper names like "The Sacramento Dispatch" and "The Salt Lake City Guardian," which ran headlines like this:
Trump doesn't need the help of Fox's ad men to tie him to Vladimir Putin. He's been doing a fine job of that himself for months. Fox quickly took down all the websites and apologized for being dipshits who thought this was a good idea.
They shouldn't have.
Fake news is made by regular, everyday sociopaths. It's artisanal, handcrafted horseshit. It's not sponsored propaganda made to appear independent like a move out of Vladimir Putin's playbook; it's homemade and entrepreneurial. It might as well be sold on Etsy. Grumpy Cat used to be a fun internet curiosity until she became an inescapable marketing juggernaut that answered the ancient question: Can a cat be a corporate sellout?
"Ever since she got famous, she thinks she's too important to lick her a*****e with the rest of us house cats!"
The word "bae" had a bread stick stabbed through his heart when the Olive Garden's Twitter page used it so often that the account seemed like it was run by an AI that went bonkers after a lab assistant spilled marinara on an iPhone playing Beyonce's Lemonade.
There are four sentences. Not one of them makes sense on its own. When combined, they form madness.
Nothing kills internet trends faster than the greedy inauthentic touch of corporate America. And that greed may be the only thing that can keep America safe from the spread of the fake news that threatens to erode trust in our journalistic institutions.
This isn't the "fake news" label Donald Trump uses to delegitimize anything that report facts proving he's bigly full of s**t. Fake news is a very real problem in which people with no ethical principles fan-fiction current events to dupe every gullible racist uncle and dimwitted high school acquaintance on Facebook feeds across the globe, hoping they spread it far and wide so they can make a fortune. It's easy and you can do it from home. It's a burgeoning industry.
But just like Grumpy Cat and bae before it, corporate America sunk its teeth into its neck and started sucking out its authenticity. So suck on that big ol' throbbing shaft of irony. Small mom-and-pop purveyors of fake news who sit down at a laptop every morning with a cup of coffee in hand to convert their Hillary Clinton erotica to AP format must hear about Fox's botched marketing campaign and feel offended that the corporate world is trying to muscle them out of the game they created. For these self-starting dirtbags, this must be like the impact crater left behind when a Walmart comes to town and shutters small businesses for miles around. These indecent yet hard-working lying sacks of s**t are now feeling the sting of watching their industry ripped of its rotten soul and used to market box office failures.
"You're fake fake news. I'm real fake news! Grr!"
But what's bad for those despicable shitheels might be good for the rest of us. The corporate world's power to kill internet trends is rivaled only by the awesome destructive might of an uncool dad trying to prove to his kids he is cool by showing off his Hootie and the Blowfish CD collection. Facebook and Google have been trying to fight the tide of fake news since the phenomenon hit it big during the 2016 presidential election. But not even two of the most powerful tech companies on Earth can kill a dumb trend as swiftly and with as much ruthless efficiency as corporations trying to co-opt it. We hit peak PSY when he danced for pistachios.
Image macro memes lost their street cred when Wendy's used them to sell chicken sandwiches.
Internet culture is inherently all about stupid, nonsensical forms of self-expression that would never fly in any other medium. When corporations use it in their advertising, they're admitting that they're desperate for the financial affection of a demographic that probably isn't even watching that ad to begin with. There's even a meme for times like these:
Internet trends catch on because even at their dumbest, they have earnestness behind them. There's no ulterior motive. The second they're used to sell us something, they lose their worth. They sold out to the titans of old media. They can't be trusted anymore. And the irony of that statement left a physical bruise on my neck.
So when Avengers: Infinity War comes out, Disney should plant a story about Trump and Putin's secret meeting with Thanos. When Toy Story 4 drops, there should be reports of Trump nominating Sid as his new surgeon general. The dumber the fake news, the more authentic the fake newspaper websites, the better. It's every movie studio's patriotic duty to keep blatantly planting bullshit stories to advertise their movies so we can drain fake news of its worth and watch PSY dance on its withered corpse.
It's Spring Break! You know what that means! Hot coeds getting loose on the beaches of Cancun and becoming imperiled in all classic beach slasher ways: Man-eating shark, school of piranhas, James Franco with dreadlocks. There are so many films about vacations gone wrong, it's a chore to wonder if there's even such a thing as a movie vacation gone right. Amity Island and Camp Crystal Lake are out. So what does that leave? The ship from Wall-E? Hawaii with the Brady Bunch? A road trip with famous curmudgeon Chevy Chase? On this month's live podcast Jack O'Brien and the Cracked staff are joined by some special guest comedians to figure out what would be the best vacation to take in a fictional universe.
Get your tickets here:
For more check out 5 Reasons Fake News Killed Facts In 2016 and Why You Won't Be Able To Trust Anything You See Or Hear Soon.
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