Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why are millions so easily duped? Michael Jackson "alive" video hoax exposed.


** I admit that I'm probably one of the few people who – while recognizing Michael Jackson's talent and global impact – is tired of reading about him. Thus I kind of chuckled when I found out about a fake video that surfaced last week of Jackson, seemingly emerging "alive" - from the back of a Los Angeles County coroner's van - fooling millions of fans.

** More than two months after his death, the thirst for information of ANY KIND about the King of Pop is unquenchable - so much so that many wishful thinkers desperately want to believe that Jackson is still alive – even though the perpetrators of this video hoax put it out there ON PURPOSE. They wanted to demonstrate how some people will believe anything they see posted on the Internet.

** The video I've posted below is split in two parts.

** The first part shows Jackson "emerging alive from a Los Angeles County coroner's van." It came from "LosAngelesCot24" at http://bit.ly/7YSNZ. He says he got it from "a trustworthy source" that he's known for years - and that he's "sure it's real - and that Michael is alive." His version got more than 1 million hits.

** The second part is in German.  It shows how the hoax was created by RTL, a German television company – using phony decals and stickers on a "coroner's van" – and getting a young actor to put on make up and a wig to "stand-in" as Michael Jackson. The video was shot in a garage near Cologne, Germany. It came from "MUZIKfactory2," at http://bit.ly/hucT5.

** RTL told the Associated Press (full story below) that it took the video down after one day, knowing that it would be copied and circulated worldwide on the Internet.

** Here's the full story as it appeared today. It was written by Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin and Jake Coyle in New York:

     BERLIN (AP) - A hoax video purportedly showing Michael Jackson emerging from a coroner's van was an experiment aimed at showing how quickly misinformation and conspiracy theories can race across the Internet, German broadcaster RTL said Tuesday.
     The video was posted by RTL on YouTube for a single day a week ago and received 880,000 hits. The broadcaster has since removed the video from YouTube, but it has been picked up by other Web sites around the world.
     "We wanted to show how easily users can be manipulated on the Internet with hoax videos," spokesman Heike Schultz of Cologne-based RTL told The Associated Press. "Therefore, we created this video of Michael Jackson being alive, even though everybody knows by now that he is dead - and the response was breathtaking."
     Jackson died June 25 in Los Angeles.
     The video - posted under an "anonymous source" - shows a coroner's van entering what seems like a parking garage and the King of Pop getting out of the back with another person. The lighting is bad, the sound muffled and the footage appears amateurish.
     "Unfortunately, many people believed it was true," Schultz said. "Even though we tried to create the video in a way that every normal user can see right away that it is a fake."
     He said the video was shot near Cologne - "definitely not in the U.S." The van in the video had the word "CORONER" printed in English, suggesting it had been recorded in America.
     RTL admitted to the hoax in an Aug. 26 report on its daily news show Explosiv.
     Hoaxes and rumors commonly spread like wildfire on the Internet. Videos of flying saucers and impossible stunts routinely are among the most-viewed on video-sharing sites, though purported evidence of the deceased being alive is less common than false rumors of someone's death.
     The rise of Twitter and its real-time microblogging has quickened the pace. American actor Patrick Swayze, who is battling pancreatic cancer, had to declare that he is still alive this year after thousands of Twitter users spread news that he was dead. Actor Jeff Goldblum had to do the same.
     The RTL spokesman said some Jackson fans were upset by the German broadcaster's actions.
     "We didn't want to dishonor Michael Jackson, but we needed a strong name to get this experiment going," Schultz said. "Had we used Britney Spears, then the fans of Britney would have complained."

** People who fall for such stuff remind me of the poor things who are habitually attracted to conspiracy theories. They don't believe in anything that's "official," that authorities have plenty to hide, that too many holes exist in their accounts of "what really happened," e.g., Elvis Presley is still alive, Walt Disney's body was frozen so he can be revived after a cure for cancer is found - and that 9/11 was an inside job - created or allowed to happen by George W. Bush.

** In an age where non-stop reality TV has blurred the lines between what's bogus and what's real - I believe every parent should use this video as a way to demonstrate to their children - that not everything they see on the Internet is true.

(Original material © 2009 by David Kusumoto.)

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