This has been a decade in which we allowed ourselves to believe the most unlikely stories. Why?by Tim Footman / December 16, 2009 / Leave a comment
Microsoft’s “megawoosh”: a faked waterslide jump got millions of YouTube views.
To see this and seven other top “faked” moments of the decade click here.
How to sum up the noughties? Perhaps by showing the YouTube clip of a man careering down a giant water slide, flying over the ramp lip, and travelling 200ft in a perfect arc across a deserted valley, only to land in a tiny paddling pool. It seemed a miraculous stunt, in which the slightest miscalculation would see the prankster splattered onto the hillside. The clip seized the popular imagination in August, attracting over 1.4m views across the world in its first week.
Within days, it was revealed to be a fake—spliced videos, ropes and dummies—funded by Microsoft as a viral video to promote a software package. Of course it was, we thought. Who could have thought otherwise? But, in the moment, those thousands of viewers loved rewatching and half-believing that a man could megawoosh. As Douglas Adams would have said: the stunt wasn’t entirely impossible, just highly improbable. It was a moment of fleeting plausibility.
We should have been sceptical, because the megawoosh viral was not alone. In 2005, a video clip of Brazilian footballer Ronaldinho apparently hitting the crossbar of a goal four times in a row, each time catching the rebound perfectly on his head or chest, earned millions of views—even after it was revealed to be a Nike advert. Next came the increasingly eerie entries of a video diary posted on YouTube by a teenager with the screen-name lonelygirl15. They gathered a cult following before being eventually outed as the fictional calling cards of three aspiring filmmakers.
All fakes, all plausible: virtual watercooler moments for the 21st century, their integrity secondary to their capacity to provoke debate. After all, these sometimes turn out to be the real deal: the Sony Bravia television advert really did set 250,000 balls bouncing down a street in San Francisco. And the online diaries of blue-chip call girl Belle de Jour were confirmed in November as the authentic memoirs of a cash-strapped postgraduate.
Of course, this tendency wasn’t exploited simply so that people could sell us computers and televisions and Billie Piper in her knickers. There was something similar in the things-can-only-get-better delirium of the 1997 election, and a few years later in the notion that Saddam had WMDs. It may be too soon to judge…