So, earlier today I posted that video of the hilariously depressing marriage proposal that took place in a shopping mall food court. You remember? The video that was PERFECT?! Seriously, everything about that video is the best. From the part where he proposes to her in front of the Cinnabon where they met a year ago, to the part where the old man shouts “SAY YES!” before he’s even gotten his proposal out, to the part where he describes what he loves about her (“I love how you cut cupcakes into smaller cupcakes”?!), to the part with the singing, to the part where she runs away. BRAVA! Naturally, because this is the Internet, everyone’s first impulse is to wonder whether or not the video is even real. It’s probably fake, right? It’s got to be fake, guys, right? WELL, MAYBE IT DOES AND MAYBE IT DOES NOT BUT HERE IS ANOTHER MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION: WHY DOES IT MATTER? That question, which is asked about every single thing on the Internet*, is exhausting. And pointless. So, I hereby declare an end to “FAKE!”

Obviously, there are some things that are fake. Like, did you guys see those unbearable “viral videos” from the set of the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz movie, Knight & Day? Oof. But no one is arguing about stuff like that. The “this is obviously fake” comments are always about things that actually aren’t obviously fake at all. That’s the whole point. If they were obviously fake we wouldn’t even be talking about it. They are videos like the marriage proposal video, which, if it was proven beyond the shadow of a doubt was “REAL!” would not be even a tiny bit hard to believe. Because it could definitely be real. So, when we claim that something is fake when we actually do not have any real proof one way or the other, what exactly are we saying? We are saying “I DID NOT GET FOOLED!” to the future, just in case. Enough!

Who are you trying to impress? A precog? Who cares if you got fooled? Here is a sample conversation illuminating our collective worst fear (apparently):

“Did you hear, the marriage proposal video was fake.”
“Oh, I thought it was real.”
“Fair enough. In any case it was really funny!”

The end! That’s it! I’m not saying that there isn’t pleasure to be taken from authenticity. If this particular video, for example, proves to be fake, then it will absolutely be a little less enjoyable. Because you will KNOW that you are watching something that is not real. But why do we have to impugn our own enjoyment of something on our own steam? WHAT ARE WE THE FUN POLICE PUTTING ALL OF OURSELVES UNDER CITIZENS SELF-ARREST?! Boo! I say no. Today I stand up and I say “YOU ARE THE ONE THAT IS FAKE, PERMANENT ALL-PERVASIVE KNEE-JERK SKEPTICISM.” This guy knows what I’m talking about:

Go to bed, Scullies.

*It seems worth pointing out that I’m not removing myself from the fun police line-up. Obviously, I had my own pop-up windows of suspicion. That’s what I mean! We are all doing it, but we should all stop doing it.
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Comments (68)
  1. FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Proposed substitutes for “FAKE AND GAY!”:
    “Dubious and in love with a rumor of the same gender as itself”
    “Doubtful and in the closet”
    “Suspicious and curious”

  3. “I always tell the truth. This statement is false.” – So-crates
    “Duder, lighten up and have a beer!” – Plato


  5. You know what else?

    - That dude never really had any Claiborne pants.
    - That guy in Latvia didn’t actually shoot anyone for chewing popcorn too loudly.
    - And I’m starting to think that Cameron Diaz isn’t really a bad teacher at all.

    Everything is fake!

  6. “Listen Oprah, I’d like to quote Gabe.”

  7. Once Gabe made his proclamation, nothing was sacred under his iron grip:


  9. just to be sure, can someone get Whoopi here to describe the difference between “fake” and “fake fake”

  10. I think that I 80 percent agree? A moratorium on shouting “fake!!” is certainly not a bad idea.

    The desire to shout out “fake!” is silly and usually unnecessary*. Shouting “fake” reminds me of kids of a certain age (8-12) who feel the need to kick Disney costumed characters in the nuts in order to prove that they know it’s not really Pluto who’s leaning in for a photo-op. As you mature as a child and/or Internet commenter, you’re no longer so concerned about trying to prove that you haven’t been fooled. And because something is scripted doesn’t mean it is therefore no longer enjoyable; for example, the marriage proposal vid or Kyle the Mall Escalator Idiot or the J Mascis interview from yesterday are all probably put-ons but they’re still a lot of fun.

    That said…

    Being “fake” does matter. When something is “fake,” it’s less fun. Why are videos of babies, itty-bitty children, cats, and dogs doing crazy things so much more funny than recorded skits of adults doing the same thing? Because they’re authentic; it’s less likely a put-on. Part of the pleasure comes from the genuineness and lack of pretension of watching something like a five-year-old talk about getting a job before she gets married. Thus, finding out something you thought was unscripted is actually scripted pulls a lot of the enjoyment from it.

    Not that shouting about it on the Internet makes it any more fun.

    *I was one of the folks who said “fake” earlier today on the marriage proposal post. I wish I hadn’t done it, even before this post. I guess in that instance I felt the need to clarify I knew it was scripted because I was giving somewhat earnest, non-ironic advice? I was anticipating someone being snide about my giving serious relationship recommendations in response to something that was a put-on. Eh. I was being too self-conscious and self-serious. Man is my navel interesting! I shall keep gazing at it all afternoon.

    • “oh hey! there’s some lint in there. Interesting AND productive!”

    • I don’t know, though. I think that might actually prove Gabe’s point? Maybe? If we can quit with all the shouting “fake” or trying to figure out if something is real or not, we can enjoy something as though it were authentic without getting bogged down in what are, really, irrelevant details. Willful suspension of disbelief makes things much more fun, I think.

  11. So, where does this fall into the “Fake” or “This is obviously fake” tabulation?

  12. I’m with you, Gabe, but I generally approach everything in life with a gag-worthy earnestness. I don’t believe that just if something is “fake” then it is inherently bad. I also don’t believe that you can enjoy anything ironically. If you enjoy something, then you enjoy it, period. I also get burned a lot because I always assume that people are awesome until they prove themselves otherwise.

    • Upvotes for the comments on “ironic” enjoyment. There’s no such thing. Saying you enjoy something ironically is really just a way of saying you’re somehow better than people you deem your social inferiors.

      • I know I’m late on this, but I wanted to reply because I find this sort of confusing? Like, maybe I’m using a different definition of “enjoying ironically,” but sometimes Gabe posts videos of people being terrible or crazy or completely oblivious to their own eccentricities, and I guess I always assumed we were supposed to enjoy them ironically, which is to say that we are not enjoying them for being great in the way their creators intended. I’m not sure whether I’m misunderstanding what you guys mean by “ironically” (probably) or misinterpreting the point of these videos (also possible).

        • Even later response!

          I think what we (me) are talking about is when someone says they enjoy, say, Journey ironically. They don’t. They actually enjoy Don’t Stop Believin’, and that’s just fine. But people claim to enjoy it ironically, because they perceive it as uncool to have genuine affection for it. By saying they like it ironically, they’re saying a few things:

          1. I think it is uncool to like this.
          2. I am cool enough to know this.
          3. Isn’t it funny that I would derive enjoyment from this even though I’m cooler than the people who like it and don’t realize that they’re uncool.

          Finally, I think what you’re talking about (with the videos Gabe posts) is a bit different. I’m not ironically enjoying these videos of oblivious people acting crazy. I’m genuinely enjoying them because there’s something continually amazing about people who lack any self awareness. If I were to tell you that I enjoy them ironically, what I think I would really be saying is that I “get” it in a way that the rest of you don’t, which is the point I was making about saying you’re better than other people (not that I think you’re saying that, just that we’re using the term differently).

    • I know, right? but it always hurts:

      “OH! shit. you had me fooled. I really thought you were earnest! but it turns out your name is Jack!”

      (but is it really??)

    • But weren’t we only using “fake” ironically anyway? Ah, I’m having Alanis Morisette levels of irony confusion, here!

      This is why I should get school credit for the amount I use the internet. Sometimes the internet is hard!

  13. Seriousgum, though. I think the skepticism is due to our innate dislike of being fooled. Even if the act of being fooled results in nothing other than saying “Oh. I thought that was real,” there’s still that moment of fear, if you can call it that, that you were able to be tricked. It’s a natural instinct to keep us guarded from the Sawyers of the world.

    There is also a sense of disappointment, usually because the reason a video made you happy/sad/angry/impressed or whatever is because there is that sense of “Wow. These people are humans. Just like me. And they act like that.” When you find out that they don’t really behave that way/ aren’t able to really do the things that you think they could it’s only natural to feel that disappointment. Because of that, people have become guarded. It’s like with anything else. You get burned enough times you stop trusting the things that burned you. Obviously I’m not equating stupid cat fart marriage proposal trampoline videos with “real” things like abuse, but it’s the same general principal.

    tl;dr, I know. I’ll summarize: Chemtrails make us suspicious of internet videos.

    • And I think that dislike of being fooled begins in elementary school. You know, around the time that all of the kids begin to learn what the word “gullible” means, and then proceed to try to trick everyone, just so they can say “you’re so gullible!” I used to hate that.

      By the way, did you know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary??

    • You think you fooled me, lawblog. Ha! This honest and earnest response almost had me… UNTIL I DID THE MATH!

      You posted at 5:49, three minutes after Superglue posted the previous comment = 3
      You started off the 1st paragraph with “Seriousgum” 10 letters =10
      Number of comments on this page at time of posting =2
      Number of letters in “lawblog” =7

      3, 102, 7

      3rd word in 1st paragraph = “I”
      102nd word in 2nd paragraph =”fart”
      7th word in last paragraph “Chemtrails”

      You true message “I fart Chemtrails.”

      I knew it! We are through the looking glass here people!

    • You know, if you say “banana” REALLY slowly, it sounds like you’re saying “gullible.” ….

    • I agree with you, but you undercut yourself in the same way that I think calling something “fake” undercuts the enjoyment of whatever it is you’re watching.

      Saying “tl;dr” is exasperating to me, because you or whoever’s commenting on you is essentially saying “what you just wrote isn’t worth reading”– I’m coming at this from the point of view of a reader who HAS taken the time to read.

      “tl;dr” delegitimizes the investment we put into reading, “fake!” into watching/enjoying/interpreting. We do dislike being fooled, but we also just dislike having our time and energy wasted.

  14. Scully isn’t convinced you’re being genuine, Gabe.

  15. I knew those cats didn’t REALLY look like Ron Swanson!!!!

  16. True story: when I was a boy I convinced my friends that I thought the tv show COPS was fake. They believed me!!! LOL!

  17. Joaquin Phoenix is all like, “This is a double standard, Gabe.”

  18. gabe is like the god of the internet. his declarations come down from the mountain and we try our best to follow. at times we may not be able to follow them as closely as we desire. but the image of gabe is always hovering over us as we type snarky comments on various blogs/vlogs/tumblrs/etc…

  19. True story: I had a Scully Action figure from that Gillian Anderson movie with the bees (The House of Mirth?) that I kept in my locker during High School and then on my desk during college.

    “You like the X-files?” my roommate asked.

    “Sometimes?” I’d say, “yeah…sometimes.”

    (I also had a Mary Katherine Gallagher action figure. The two weren’t friends.)

  20. Let’s break the tension with cat GIFs. Cat GIFs?

  21. I declare an end to life

  22. Question reality, Gabe

  23. If real is fake, and fake is real, and you have fake on the table, is it really real or is it fake? what is the table? How is table? how is!? How!? What is life? life is! is it?

  24. Wait a minute… how do we know Gabe even wrote this?

  25. Does this mean Gabe has to start loving Improv Everywhere?

    I think the reason I resort to skepticism in the case of potentially “fake” viral videos is that I always feel like I’m being sold something through trickery. More than simply being afraid of someone telling me that the wedding video was fake, I’m afraid someone will tell me it’s actually a commercial for Gillette, or a prologue to “The Hangover: Part II.” People rarely fake things with pure intentions– it’s usually to promote their acting career, hawk t-shirts with their face on them, become Tila Tequila, or sell garbage.

    • Yes, man! It’s such a shame this is the last comment on this thread, because I agree wholeheartedly.

      It’s not just that the situation didn’t happen (in this case, the marriage proposal), it’s also that they manufactered this to “get me”, make a sensation and, with a little bit of good luck, become viral. To me, the internet has become a little out of hand. That video isn’t even fun (for me. Gabe seemed to enjoy it) and it’s trying to have this real-life vibe to become popular that just annoys me.

      Following Graham’s comment, viral marketing is everywhere with its gimmicks, and if you enjoy something and a day later you find out it was just advertising, you feel cheated and part of the magic is lost. I know that maybe it shouldn’t be this way, because life, jump into life, or whatever, but it just is.

      And also: the audio is horrible.

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