Archived Story

Falling for a twerk

Published 4:58pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In the era of the instant Internet gratification, where fact and gossip spread with equal speed, the wise web surfer will look at everything with a dose of cynicism. Unfortunately, that may include news from legitimate sources.

Case in point: last week, a video of a young woman recording herself dancing went “viral” (meaning, the video was seen by a lot of people in a short period of time). The reason why the video went viral was because during a demonstration of the dance phenomena called “twerking,” the girl lost her balance, fell through a glass coffee table, lit candles catching her pants on fire. This video was posted on youtube.com and within a week, it had been viewed over 9 million times. All the major news networks played excerpts from the video, leading to discussions about the dangers of twerking on talk shows like the “The View.”

The remarkable thing is not a single person verified the video was real.

It wasn’t. It was an elaborate hoax by late night host Jimmy Kimmel of “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and the girl in the video is actually a Hollywood stuntwoman.

Producers of the show made the video and posted it on youtube. According to Kimmel, they made no effort to spread the video — they just sat back and waited for the Internet gossip mill “magic” to happen. And happen it did, to the extent it was reported as fact across the board by media, across the nation.

The immediate access to information provided by the Internet is an awesome thing, provided that information is right and factual. But the Internet user needs to be wary: at any given time, patently false “news” is being circulated as fact. For instance, right now a very graphic photo of a rape and murder of a Christian woman by Syrian Muslims is making the rounds. The story is fake; the gory photo that accompanies it is a still shot from a horror flick by a Canadian filmmaker. Another is a video of President Obama’s handshake being snubbed on his recent Russian visit. But the footage is from 2009 and in this case, the clip is taken out of context: the President is holding out his hand as he introduces President Medvedev to American officials, not hanging in the air as the Russians snub him. A graphic image of the wave height caused by the Tohuku earthquake in March 2011 is right now being circulated as the Fukushima nuclear plant’s radioactive spread across the Pacific Ocean. And that’s just wrong.

But if the network anchors can be duped, that means no one is really immune.

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