Rick Astley: Not Dead
The recent rash of celebrity deaths has led to an Internet killing spree of sorts, where famous people of all stripes have been struck down by news reports touting their demise while they in reality have just been doing boring things like sleeping or Twittering. The latest (and perhaps most inevitable) non-casualty of these not-even-all-that-real-looking fake reports: Internet-beloved, ginger-haired pop singer Rick Astley, who was struck down by a fake report (since deleted) claiming that he had passed away in a Berlin hotel room. The phony story was submitted to CNN’s user-generated, non-edited iReport.com, which, because it carries the imprimatur of the cable news network, gets extra “cred” from credulous readers. Take heed, content companies in search of cheaply sourced meat: These are the sorts of shenanigans that are sort of inevitable when you try to pump up your pageviews, and dilute your brand, with what CNN calls “Unedited. Unfiltered. News.” Anyway, the arc of the story is probably pretty predictable by now: Jokester posts poorly copyedited story under semi-legitimate guise; jokester distributes link; link gets passed to people who aren’t friends with the jokester; topic lights up Twitter, whose userbase never met a story it couldn’t blindly retweet without checking out first, and makes its way to less reputable news sites. Lather, rinse, retweet. Blogger Steve Huff has already termed this little bit of pranksterism the “riproll,” a clever play on online humorists’ tendencies toward faking people out with obscured links to Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” I like that term, but I have to say: “Together Forever” is a pretty damn fine track, too.