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Celebrities

A new website has many people slightly puzzled. It claims to be producing artisanal salamis made from lab-grown meat from celebrity tissue samples. So it's kind of like a celebrity version of Manbeef.com (from way back in 2001) — except that it's celebrity beef and the human meat is grown using in-vitro meat production.

Salon.com got a response from "Kevin" on the BiteLabs team who explains that "the site is partly a commentary on food culture, the ethics of meat, and 'the way celebrity culture is consumed.'"

So yes, it's a parody site. However, Kevin also insists that they do actually plan to make salami from celebrity meat.

I'm not sure about the current state-of-the-art of in-vitro meat technology. But I'm doubtful that the technology is good enough to make salami that tastes appetizing. Even if it is meat from Jennifer Lawrence of James Franco.

The idea of celebrity salami recalls an idea PETA proposed a few years back of making George Clooney-flavored tofu.
Categories: Celebrities, Food, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 27, 2014
Comments (1)
The recent death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has shone a light on the strange business model of the site Mediamass.net.

After the actor died, reporters googled his name and came across an article on Mediamass reporting that the actor had recently been the victim of a death hoax. So a number of sites (such as The Telegraph and Daily Mail) subsequently reported on what a strange coincidence it was that the actor's real-life death had been anticipated by a death hoax.


But the reporters had been fooled. What seemed to have been a prescient hoax was actually just Mediamass's anticipatory method of rumor debunking.

You see, the site tries to capitalize on the popularity of celebrity rumors by anticipating rumors that might circulate and debunking them... whether or not such rumors actually are spreading. It achieves this by using generic, automatically generated templates.

So, for instance, it's possible that a death hoax might circulate about any celebrity. So it has pages already generated for all the major celebrities debunking rumors of their death, in anticipation of the day when these rumors might come into existence. The name of the celebrity just gets inserted into the generic template.




Similarly, it has pages debunking possible pregnancy rumors, false marriage reports, etc.


I have to admit, it certainly takes the work out of debunking. Why bother scanning twitter, Facebook, etc. for false rumors, when you can simply generate templates that deny all such rumors before they even start to spread.

And when a celebrity really does die... then Mediamass simply replaces the pre-generated template with a short notice to the effect that this time the report of the celebrity's death was true.
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 03, 2014
Comments (2)
April 1, 2013 — the site Daily Makeover (which describes itself as "Hairstyles, Makeup and Cosmetics Inspiration") posted a photo of Jennifer Aniston with a buzzcut. The site claimed that Aniston had cut off her hair for a role in a film and quoted her as saying, "My character gets to this really broken point, and [director] Daniel [Schechter] and I thought it would make her more realistic."


But actually, the photo was the site's April Fool joke. It had doctored an image of Aniston (below) taken while she was attending the 2006 premiere of Friends with Money.


But demonstrating the adage that on the internet nothing ever really goes away, it just gets recycled endlessly, that same April Fool picture has recently begun making the social media rounds, accompanied by a caption claiming that Aniston shaved off her hair as a way of showing her support for a niece diagnosed with cancer.


Aniston's rep told JustJared.com: "It's nonsense and I am not aware of any niece with cancer."
Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Thu Dec 26, 2013
Comments (0)
Satire mistaken as news. Outrage in the Twitterverse as twitterers react to Kanye West claiming to be the "next Nelson Mandela." Full quotation: "I am the next Nelson Mandela. I'm only 36 years old, and when I look at everything I've accomplished, it's the only comparison that makes any sense. By the time I'm 95, I'm going to be a bigger hero than he ever was."

But West never said this. The quotation comes from the The Daily Currant, which is a humor site akin to the Onion.

Categories: Celebrities
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 08, 2013
Comments (1)
Paris Hilton vehemently denies that she tweeted, "RIP Nelson Mandela. Your 'I Have A Dream' speech was so inspiring."

According to Gossip Cop, the screenshot of this fake post first appeared on a Twitter account named @DeletedTweets.

Categories: Celebrities
Posted by Alex on Sun Dec 08, 2013
Comments (0)
Yet another example of a celebrity imposter masquerading online. In this case, the imposter evidently thought their deception was for a worthy cause. Nevertheless, it's still a deception.

Fake Ed Asner Endorses Struggling Dormont Theater
CBS Pittsburgh

The Facebook post from the fake Ed Asner page reads "Help the Hollywood Theater! One of Pittsburgh's last historic neighborhood cinemas. I have found memories of visiting this venue as a much younger man while visiting relatives. I'll double every donation!" Theater manager Chad Hunter was excited but skeptical when he saw the post. He tried sending a thank you message to Asner via the social media website but never heard back. That's when he got suspicious. A representative for "Charles Sherman Public Relations" who represents Asner says the page is fake and that the actor has never had a Facebook page.

Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 08, 2013
Comments (0)
According to this theory John Travolta died in 1991 and was replaced by a look-alike, German singer Roy Black.


John Travolta (left) -- Roy Black (right)




The corollary to this theory would be that Roy Black didn't die of heart failure in 1991, but actually survived and, for some inexplicable reason, took over Travolta's career. The theory doesn't explain how Travolta died.

This is a very minor conspiracy theory. I'm guessing it was inspired by someone noticing that Roy Black and John Travolta look somewhat similar. But it made me curious about how many celebrities have supposedly been replaced by doubles. Paul McCartney is the most famous one — replaced by the Edinburgh orphan William Campbell. And in the old hoax forum there's the thread about Lisa Marie Presley having been replaced by a Swedish woman, Lisa Johansen (so Johansen claims).

I couldn't think of any other cases of replaced celebrities. Then I found the site 60if, devoted to the Paul-is-Dead theory. It has a forum thread entirely devoted to celebrity replacement theories. (Maybe the possible source of the Travolta/Black theory.) According to these guys, just about every celebrity you can think of has been replaced by a double. And even many historical figures (George Washington, Einstein, etc.). We're living in a world of doubles!
Categories: Celebrities, Conspiracy Theories, Death
Posted by Alex on Wed May 23, 2012
Comments (8)
If you follow internet memes at all, you're going to be aware of 'Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'. The title has been attached to 25-year-old Zeddie Little of New York. A picture of him was taken while he was running a 10k race in South Carolina. He seemed to look upbeat and well-composed, while everyone else looked like they were suffering. Someone uploaded the picture to reddit, with the comment, "My friend calls him 'Mr Ridiculously Photogenic Guy'". The image and title promptly went viral, making Little an overnight internet celebrity.


Ridiculously Photogenic Guy

This immediately reminded me of the Gorgeous Guy phenomenon, from way back in 2001, in which a guy's picture was uploaded to San Francisco's Craiglist with the comment, "Gorgeous Guy @ 4th and Market at the MUNI/Amtrak Bus Stop (Mon-Fri)." The Gorgeous Guy's picture soon went viral, resulting in the real-life Gorgeous Guy being tracked down and invited to appear on CNN, The Tonight Show, etc.


Gorgeous Guy

The punchline of the Gorgeous Guy story, however, was that his initial burst of internet popularity turned out to have been artificially engineered. David Cassel of the San Francisco Bay Guardian discovered that the initial flood of messages promoting and gushing about the "Gorgeous Guy" all traced back to the same IP address — which was the address of the company where Gorgeous Guy worked. Cassel suspected that Gorgeous Guy had been promoting himself, though Gorgeous Guy himself insisted it had been his co-workers playing a prank on him.

There's absolutely no indication that Ridiculously Photogenic Guy's popularity was artificially goosed up in any way. In fact, Zeddie Little seems to be trying his best to avoid his unasked-for celebrity status. But it is odd how these internet memes echo and repeat themselves.

Incidentally, after I wrote about the Gorgeous Guy incident in the book version of The Museum of Hoaxes, Gorgeous Guy contacted me, and I continue to get updates from him every few years. Last I heard, if I remember correctly, he was working as a real-estate agent somewhere.
Categories: Celebrities, Photos/Videos, Social Networking Sites
Posted by Alex on Mon Apr 09, 2012
Comments (0)
Singer Beyonce Knowles announced she was pregnant in August. But video of a recent interview with her on an Australian TV show has led to rumors that she's faking her pregnancy, because as she walked out and sat down for the interview her stomach appeared to bend and fold in a weird way.

beyonce

The theory is that she's wearing a prosthetic baby bump, while a surrogate mother carries the actual child. This way, Beyonce will avoid the stretch marks and discomfort of pregnancy — and she'll look fit and toned immediately after "giving birth".

I think the conspiracy theorists are reaching a bit here. And Beyonce, of course, has denied the rumor.

But one question the controversy raises is why do people like to come up with these conspiracy theories about their favorite celebrities? It recalls the Paul Is Dead debate, though the Beyonce theories are nowhere near as elaborate as the Dead Paul theories. At least, not yet. Maybe fans will start finding fake baby clues in Beyonce's albums.

One reason for the theories is that they have some entertainment value. They provide fans with something to discuss about the celebrity. Also, psychologists argue that those who tell such rumors gain status by appearing to be privy to special information. And perhaps, in Beyonce's case, some of her fans don't want her to be pregnant. They prefer the image of her as a youthful "single lady", so they're fantasizing away her pregnancy as a hoax.

Links: tmz.com, US Magazine.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Celebrities, Conspiracy Theories
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 12, 2011
Comments (3)
From The Globe and Mail:

"All my wife said was, well, that's weird," recounts Damon, shaking his head. "Then she reminded me that the same thing had happened to George [Clooney] a few years ago. What amazed me even more was that the calls we were getting were from [news groups] that were very reputable. I asked them did you even read the story on the Internet? It read like the lyrics to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The truth of the matter is all these mother [expletive] are lazy [and didn't do their homework to verify if the story was real]. There I said it."
Categories: Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 14, 2009
Comments (11)
A short video that appeared on youtube a week ago showed someone resembling Michael Jackson getting out of the back of a coroner's van. Evidence perhaps that Jackson faked his death? Nope. German television station RTL subsequently admitted they faked the video as an experiment "to show how easily users can be manipulated on the Internet with hoax videos." An RTL spokesman said: "Unfortunately, many people believed it was true, even though we tried to create the video in a way that every normal user can see right away that it is a fake."

Hoaxes designed to demonstrate the gullibility of the public are an old phenomenon, going back at least to HL Mencken's 1917 bathtub hoax. The public invariably lives up to expectations.
Categories: Celebrities, Death, Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 02, 2009
Comments (6)
New Michael Jackson pareidolia (jackodolia). A 43-year-old builder from Stafford "who happens to be a bit of a skeptic" took this picture of his car. He intended to send the picture to a car sales magazine, until he noticed the image of Michael Jackson formed by the reflection of clouds on its hood. (youtube)

Categories: Celebrities, Pareidolia
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 31, 2009
Comments (8)
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