I guess it’s no surprise that some people are a little twisted. But ever since Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson died within a span of 72 hours, fake celebrity death stories have started cluttering up the internet. Sites like Twitter and FakeAWish.com, even CNN’s iReport, have created major drama for publicists and sent them scrambling to set the record straight that their clients are very much alive. First, someone hacked into Britney Spears’ TwitPic account and claimed she was dunzo. Next came reports that Natalie Portman bit the dust. Then, that George Clooney had fallen to his death while filming a scene on a New Zealand cliff. Soon, reports said the exact same thing about Jeff Goldblum. Then Matt Damon was reported to have died in a car crash. Even 1980s singer Rick Astley had a death rumor spread about him. Is no one safe? [NY Daily News].
These jokes aren’t even remotely funny. If you’re going to waste time hacking into Twitter, you might as well do something hilarious. If I had free reign over Britney’s account, I would leave a message like, “I just shaved my coochie so I don’t blind the paps!” It’s funny—not really tasteful—but it wouldn’t send fans into pulmonary shock. In my opinion, humor has a way better impact. Case in point: If Sacha Baron Cohen had announced that Eminem died at the MTV Movie Awards, it would have paled in comparison to his descent from the ceiling into Eminem’s lap. Laughter > Crying.
The website FakeAWish.com needs to learn this lesson, since most of these reports came from the “Associated Global Press”––a phony news site run by them. It works by typing in a first and last name, selecting a gender and then choosing between four stories––three are about death and the last is a report about said person winning a masturbation contest. The final outcome looks like a legitimate news story. But in a time when so many people are mourning the loss of major Hollywood icons, spreading these rumors is simply stupid. People can always use a good laugh, so let’s work on harmless hilarity instead. Kind of like this little news nugget.