Some hoaxes are funny. Some deftly satirize some aspect of our culture. Some, like the computer-generated gibberish papers that made it into scientific journals, cleverly expose dangerously low institutional standards.
But other hoaxes—and these disproportionately tend to fall into the “viral marketing stunt” category—amount to nothing but cynical exploitation of humans’ tendency to believe other humans when they say something is true.
It’s a hostile, self-promoting act—a covert ad for Jimmy Kimmel Live—rendered as ironic acid that corrodes our sense of wonder. If the Web provides a cabinet of curiosities, full of freakish baubles of humanity, the hoaxer smashes it to bits, then counts his money while he preens atop the rubble.
That goes double for this one. Whatever the video’s intent, its primary achievement is to leave young people feeling a little more jaded than they were before. Is that really what you want, Christopher Lloyd?
A clever hoax invites you to believe; a bad one has to beg.
Will Oremus on the viral HUVr video.
This is some of the worst cases of hoaxes I have seen since the #STOPKONY2012 incident.