In this week's episode, Beth and Kelly look into the popularity of the death hoax in its many, many forms. What is that, you say? Well, we'll tell you! A death hoax is a deliberate or confused report of someone's death that turns out to be incorrect and murder rumors. Join us as we take a look at fake death rumors, faked deaths and even faker fake deaths!
People always love to gossip, and gossiping about celebrities is even juicier, because unless you know them (which we mostly don’t), gossiping about them leads to very few repercussions on our end. What celebrity is pregnant, who’s getting divorced, and who (dun-dun-dah) is dead?
Spreading rumors about a celebrity death is far from new, in fact Richard Pryor’s 2003 special, I Ain’t Dead Yet came out a couple of years before the comedian’s actual death in 2005. Rumors of his passing had swirled in the media for many years before his special.
Another celebrity that has dealt with the fallout from a fake death story is actress Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, Empire). Her clapback is intensely satisfying:
So, why does it matter if someone claims your dead? Well, does it matter to your mother? What about your child? There's more at stake than just a simple fake news story, you could be sharing news that could break someone's heart for no reason at all. So many of the death hoax stories are just simply for like-farming or advertising revenue, and that's not fake news!
Some other reasons death hoaxes end up in the news might be because of a simple error on the journalists/newsroom part. For example, Barbara Bush's obituary was released by CBS News just days before she actually passed away, and the headline included "DO NOT PUBLISH". Accidents like this can happen, but they are a bit more rare.
Publishers definitely want to be the first ones to break the news of a celebrity death, which is why they already have those obituaries ready to go, but it is certainly something that should be verified before it goes viral.
Kelly and Beth also discuss how some people fake their own deaths, mostly for their own gain, unlike Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist living in Ukraine who in 2018 faked his own assassination as part of a sting operation aimed at exposing an agent sent to kill him. Babchenko's appearance at a press conference the day after his "death" caused an international sensation.
What about people who are definitely dead, but people still want to believe they're alive? We've got that too! Want to hear some weird fake (maybe) death stories? Take a listen and we'll tell you all about it!
Beth's Jam of the Week: Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan
Kelly's Jam of the Week:
Gabourey Sidibe—“Gabby” to her legion of fans—skyrocketed to international fame in 2009 when she played the leading role in Lee Daniels’s acclaimed movie Precious. In This is Just My Face, she shares a one-of-a-kind life story in a voice as fresh and challenging as many of the unique characters she’s played onscreen. With full-throttle honesty, Sidibe paints her Bed-Stuy/Harlem family life with a polygamous father and a gifted mother who supports her two children by singing in the subway. Sidibe tells the engrossing, inspiring story of her first job as a phone sex “talker.” And she shares her unconventional (of course!) rise to fame as a movie star, alongside “a superstar cast of rich people who lived in mansions and had their own private islands and amazing careers while I lived in my mom's apartment.”
Sidibe’s memoir hits hard with self-knowing dispatches on friendship, depression, celebrity, haters, fashion, race, and weight (“If I could just get the world to see me the way I see myself,” she writes, “would my body still be a thing you walked away thinking about?”). Irreverent, hilarious, and nontraditional, This Is Just My Face takes its place and fills a void on the shelf of writers from Mindy Kaling to David Sedaris to Lena Dunham.
Celebrity Death Hoaxes: 45 Famous People Who Were Reported Dead… But Weren’t (Photos)
Gabourey Sidibe Death Hoax
PH company banned by Facebook spread lies, used fake accounts
No, popular actor Michael J. Fox has not died
Pseudocide: The Art of Faking Your Death
Gabourey Sidibe Is Not Dead, But Her Tweet About The Hoax Is A Funny Reminder To Not Believe Everything You Read
Death Hoaxes, Like-Farming, and You
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And don't forget - Spread jam, not lies.
Spread jam, not lies.