Miracle Mike Sebba sent me this beautiful graph with the caveat that it might be fake, and sadly it did not really air on Fox News. By “sadly,” I guess I mean “fortunately,” since in theory we are against misleading people. That’s why we’re so angry at Fox. The image above, with its y-axis reversed and crammed into the bottom half of the graph, is a fake issuing from the bowels of the internet. Don’t read too much of that Reddit thread, lest you encounter people who argue that it’s still a downward-trending line “even if you flip the numbers,” plus people who, after they know it’s fake, continue to decry Fox News for airing it. The point is that Fox News tricks people, even if you have to trick people into understanding that.
Let’s say a witch transports you to a mythical country called, I dunno, Furmerica or Harmonica or whatever. The country is nominally a democracy, but everyone you meet agrees that Furmerican politics are a farce. The two major parties are operatively indistinguishable, both in their dishonesty and in their infatuation with rich patrons. The few politicians who sincerely hope to govern by their beliefs—the real Furmericans, if you will—are invariably dumb. The Congress of Furmerica is a long argument between liars and fools, and don’t even get me started on the Hexagonal Office. Ask any citizen, and he’ll tell you that they’re all a bunch of bums, which is why he doesn’t even pay attention anymore. Today is Friday, and we have pinpointed Furmerica’s second biggest problem. Won’t you skirt the root cause with me?
The video above shows a 16-year old woman in London being knocked out by an unknown assailant, ostensibly as part of a new game among teenagers called “knockout.” The way knockout works is you arbitrarily choose a person and try to knock him or her out with one punch. Or the way knockout works is you gather together a bunch of news stories about street violence involving young black men, and you present it as a disturbing trend along the lines of wilding or flash mob robberies. It’s hard to tell.
The problem with reporting on pop culture is that you’re really only reporting on your personal pop culture experience. If you see, for example, an article in New York Magazine about the new chick-lit book Brooklyn Girls,* you are forced to decide whether the “Brooklyn girl” is a real trend or just something Yael Kohen used to pitch a feature to her editor. This question is impossible to answer. Presumably there is a set number of people out there who are familiar with the concept of the Brooklyn girl and believe it describes real humans, but that number is unknowable. The trend writer is therefore forced to either risk reporting a specious trend as actual, a la the New York Times, or to present the new trend as a fake trend, ironically undercutting it even as she perpetuates it. Guess which option Jezebel chose?
Brad alerted me last weekend to the existence of the hands-free Whoppper, ostensibly a product released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Burger King in Puerto Rico. Sadly, the HFW is not real. When you know that it is not real, the commercial above looks like exactly what it is: a gentle exercise in absurdity that also provides occasion to say that word “Whopper” 78 times. It seems impossible to believe that such a product could exist. Yet the hands-free Whopper was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning, and I was all set to write some funny (read: lazy) screed about it. Apparently, I was not alone. At all.