• Questions

    Why Aren't There Any Good Hoaxes Anymore?

    It used to be that you could pull a really good hoax on people and it would take a long time to be figured out (if it was figured out at all!) And then everyone would have a good story and maybe be a little embarrassed, but not for too long. You know, like those great old stories about people like Clifford Irving faking a Howard Hughes book and Alan Conway who passed himself off as Stanley Kubrick for a while. I guess people were less cynical back then, and weren't always terrified of getting duped. "Trusting," I guess is the word. Well, not anymore. Everything gets figured out so quickly! Is it the quality of the hoaxes, or the cynicism of the hoaxed? Well, probably both. Take a look at some recent examples:

    There was that fake New York Times thing that declared the Iraq War over and the dawn of a new lefty utopia. I guess that jig was going to be up pretty darn soon (though, it wouldn't have been if the group had distributed in other cities, I don't think), but even so some crappy old blog had to go and ruin it. The reporting was there to be done, because the information was just too damned accessible.

    And what about Martin Eisenstadt, that silly fake Republican guy who despite our warnings a couple of weeks ago, was treated as a real McCain adviser by MSNBC laughing stock David Shuster. So, OK, ha ha... But then the New York Times ran a whole expose like a coupla days later. It could have kept going! Why won't anyone allow fun anymore?

    A couple other recent, easily-debunked snoozers have been that Disney Channel Cheetah Girl nude pic foofaraw that involved a laptop computer falsely reported stolen (or something) and the worst blogger/publicist/friend in the world, Jonathan Jaxson. I don't even know where to start not caring about that, other than to marvel at Jaxson's inanity. Plus why on earth did the Cheetah Girl and her publicist tacitly admit to semi-staging the whole thing?? They had gotten away with it (sort of)! A victimless crime! And then, I dunno, there was some lame thing about Jay McCarroll from Project Runway and a dress.

    Which is to say, there have actually been a lot of hoax-y things in the past couple weeks, and yet... they all suck. It's probably because, well, people are so quick now—because of ulceric cynicism and a crushing worry about seeming not in-the-know, and because of information becoming available with increasing ease—to dismiss something as fake right off the bat, or soon prove it false, or just come forward to take credit for it so they can get big 'n famous. (And some people are just dumb.)

    So how does one actually orchestrate a great scheme that will enthrall and mystify, dupe and hoodwink? Well, in some ways the more outrageous the better. The more fearless the better. And, if it's a long con, the more detailed the better. As much as the New York Times trick/protest statement was a nice and funny idea, it didn't really work for long enough because they didn't do it all the way. The paper stock was way off, there weren't enough pages, etc. You really have to work for these things to stick and hold national attention. You have to go whole hog.

    Or, you know, whole monster.

    • What kind of bait does it take to capture a Montauk Monster?

      number six What kind of bait does it take to capture a Montauk...  
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    • 5:08 PM
      3 replies

      George Clooney pulls hoaxes all the time -- on friends, acquaintances, strangers. He does it creatively and with great mirth. Obama should appoint him to a new Cabinet position, Secretary of Hoaxes.

      MrInBetween George Clooney pulls hoaxes all the time -- on friends,...  
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    • 5:09 PM
      1 reply

      I don't know, Boston seems to fall for a lot of shit these days...

      pareenesobscene I don't know, Boston seems to fall for a lot of shit...  
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    • 5:09 PM
      1 reply

      There was the guy in Asbury Park passing himself off as Joba Chamberlain. Drank for free all summer, even while the real Joba was pitching on television up on the flat screen. Faux hoax?

      dado There was the guy in Asbury Park passing himself off as...  
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    • Could you imagine what would happen today if the War of the Worlds hoax was tried again?

      Iceland_Spar Could you imagine what would happen today if the War of...  
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    • I thought the whole Sarah Palin thing was a pretty good hoax.

      EleanorRigby I thought the whole Sarah Palin thing was a pretty good...  
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    • We must lock up Ashley Todd and study her until we understand her ways.

      Steverino Begins We must lock up Ashley Todd and study her until we...  
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    • And there was that Bronx Subway (of the sandwich and not mass transit variety) that pretended/actually did run a strip club after hours for free publicity. I mean come ON. Sandwiches and foot longs? Wonderful.

      jane street And there was that Bronx Subway (of the sandwich and not...  
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    • I for one just loved the hoax where Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

      Wait.

      number six I for one just loved the hoax where Iraq possessed...  
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    • Video killed the radio star.
      Internets killed the hoax star.

      SisterMaryMartha Video killed the radio star. Internets killed the hoax...  
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    • 5:19 PM
      21 replies

      Once I said that I was Jesus but I wasn't and everyone believed me! It was a good hoax I liked it!`1!1!

      CodePink Once I said that I was Jesus but I wasn't and everyone...  
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    • 5:21 PM
      7 replies

      OK guys, it's time to tell the truth - I am not a real eskimo.

      GOTCHA!

      es-ki-mo OK guys, it's time to tell the truth - I am not a real...  
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    • It's less the quality of the hoaxes than the quality of the fact-checking.

      Snopes.com took the fun out of fakery.

      Smitros It's less the quality of the hoaxes than the quality of...  
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    • I blame the telegraph.

      But my recent hysterical pregnancy was pretty funny too, I must admit.
      Fooled everyone!

      Baroness I blame the telegraph. But my recent hysterical...  
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    • Ashley Todd... she got perp'd walked for her hoax.

      tonyAZ82 Ashley Todd... she got perp'd walked for her hoax.  
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    • 5:26 PM
      2 replies

      J.T. Leroy wasn't really that long ago. I'd say that qualified as a major hoax.

      SlantedAndDisenchanted J.T. Leroy wasn't really that long ago. I'd say that...  
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    • What this town needs is crop circles.

      BadUncle What this town needs is crop circles.  
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    • I'm partial to the A.N. Wilson/John Betjeman hoax:

      [www.timesonline.co.uk]

      booktart I'm partial to the A.N. Wilson/John Betjeman hoax: ...  
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    • What about the whole African Press International website claiming that they had the Obama "Whitey" tape and that they sold it to Fox News. That fooled a lot of angry white people.

      Dr. Spaceman, Esq. What about the whole African Press International website...  

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