Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter


Pranking Celebrity Deaths

posted by shuang

Fake-A-Wish.jpgIn the wake (no pun intended) of recent celebrity deaths like Michael, Farrah, Ed, and Billy, there have been a surprising surge in false rumors swirling about other celebrity deaths: Jeff Goldblum, Natalie Portman, Harrison Ford, George Clooney, Rick Astley, and, yes, even Britney Spears.

The first rumor, around the time Michael Jackson’s death was announced, said Jeff Goldblum fell off a cliff while shooting a film in New Zealand. Natalie Portman was also reported falling off a cliff in New Zealand. Next, George Clooney’s private plane crashed near Denver, Harrison Ford fell overboard from his yacht in Saint Tropez, British singer Rick Astley was found dead in a Berlin hotel, and Britney’s own Twitter post reported her death.

CNN reports that Rich Hoover’s site, www.fakeawish.com, is the culprit behind most of the rumors.

FakeAWish.com, a spoof on “Make-A-Wish,” provides a “celeb fake news generator” that allows users to plug in the full names of celebrities and then choose from four article templates that generate false and implausible “news” (a la “The Onion“). Three templates include a yacht sinking in St. Tropez, a private plane crashing, and a fall off a New Zealand cliff. In the photo above, you can see fake stories created from the celeb name “Charlie Chaplin.”  According to Hoover, users plugged in the names of Goldblum, Clooney, Portman, and Ford to create the false stories that lead to a quick media storm via Twitter and Facebook. 

As for Spears, her Twitter account was reportedly hacked by someone who cited her false death and other pranksters created an article of Astley’s death using a real-looking AP article template that was then posted to CNN’s user-generated news feed, iReportTimesOnline.com also points out the irony behind the fake Astley story, since Astley himself has a pranking past (known as  “rickrolling”) that helped boost his career.  Jeff Goldblum eventually went on “The Colbert Report” to dispel the false death rumors.

In a technologically advanced world, news about anyone and anything can be spread across the internet with a one-second click on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites.  While this helps news get around faster than a speeding bullet, it’s also dangerous if uninformed readers take certain news at face value, especially comments and posts from trusted friends who are also misinformed. 

The L.A. Times cites a professor who believes these false rumors create “positive reinforcement,” which suggests that some readers may take a disturbing satisfaction in starting false rumors and having people believe them–much akin to high school gossip being fueled and disseminated via an instant text message over cell phones.

While publicists are no doubt fielding a lot of phone and email inquiries to deny rumors of these celebrity deaths, there is something gruesome about adding to the public sense of grief, bewilderment, and disorientation by reporting false celebrity deaths immediately after real celebrity deaths.  There is also something disrespectful to the celebrities who have really died as well as the ones who haven’t died.  The fascination and enjoyment of gossip mongering and the inability to allow others to properly separate real and false news is surely a recipe for near-mass hysteria, and a dangerous side to free speech gone wild.

 

What do you think about these celebrity death pranks? Harmless or hurtful?  Funny or vicious? Do you think Twitter, Facebook, and other networking sites might also be dangerous for spreading news?  



  • http://www.uggs-onsale-outlet.net/ uggs outlet

    This is such a great resource you are providing. uggs outlet|I enjoy seeing sites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I really loved reading your post. Thanks!

  • http://www.uggs-onsale-outlet.net/ uggs on sale

    Thanks for sharing!Your articles it is wonderful!!uggs on sale|

  • http://www.airmaxshoescheap.net/ air max shoes

    Facebook, and other social networking sites. While this helps news get around faster than a speeding bullet, it’s also dangerous if uninformed readers take certain news at face value, especially comments and posts from trusted friends who are also misinformed.
    Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/idolchatter/2009/07/pranking-celebrity-deaths.html#ixzz1GAERiOcZ

Previous Posts

Big Faith and a True Father-Son Bond
The film "Little" Boy is based on a seven-year-old boy working to move mountains to end World War II so his father and best friend can return home. Regardless of his size or age, this youth’s faith is unstoppable. Executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett team up with the producers of

posted 11:01:58am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

#MARCHON
In light of recent occurrences in addition to our day-to-day - we need, more than ever, to march on. #Marchon is a national platform for justice. It's the opportunity to let the world know what and how you feel. What are you passionate about? What do you believe needs to change? Where does the actio

posted 2:28:57pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Classic with a Modern Twist: What to Expect from Annie
It's a film that the whole family will enjoy. It's a film that will inspire you to look at life in a different lens. Moreover, it's a film that will keep you wanting more - what film are we talking about? None other than Annie. The talented cast include Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne,

posted 8:00:55am Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Get Excited For the Holiday Film of the Year - Annie
Everyone is excited to see Annie, in theaters Dec. 19, staring Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhane Wallis, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, and Cameron Diaz. The film is a modern retelling of the story about an orphan who seeks optimism within the adversity that she faces every day. While you're waiting for the f

posted 9:30:10am Dec. 11, 2014 | read full post »

'Unbroken' is a True Gift This Christmas
// After 57 years of being hung up, now a war hero’s story is on the big screen. Unbroken, a true story based on U.S. POW and 1936 Olympic runner Louie Zamperini will be released on Christmas Day. The timing could not be more perfect said director and producer Angelina Jolie, who was emotionally e

posted 9:57:52am Dec. 10, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.