Attack of the Viral Video Hoaxes

On second look, some of these vids seem a little too real

By Jere Hester
|  Thursday, Dec 9, 2010  |  Updated 12:42 AM PDT
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Year in Review 2010: "I Thought It Was Gum" & Other Notable Quotables

YouTube/FranklyPop

Frankly, it's just wrong the proposal was staged.

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Maybe we can file a class-action breach of promise lawsuit: it looks like the charming viral video of a quirky marriage proposal in New York's Central Park a few weeks back was a hoax.

The scene, viewed nearly 500,000 times on YouTube, was staged by thinkmodo, a new company that – you guessed it – makes what it hopes will be viral videos, Mashable recently reported.

Meanwhile, it turns out our favorite viral video of the moment – a random slew of celebrities singing "Let it Be" to promote a Norwegian talk show – may have been the product of a big con. David Faustino, late of "Married With Children," told The Hollywood Reporter the stunt was pitched to him as a charity fundraiser.

Now we're not going to lose any sleep over the pranking of stars of wildly varying wattage, among them Glenn Close, Tonya Harding, Larry Drake (Benny from "LA Law") and Lou Ferrigno (known in Norway as "Hulken").

And when you look back with a cynical eye at the “Frank's Marriage Proposal in Central Park” video, the set-up and execution seem just a little too slick (in the real world, chances are the ring toss from a row boat in Central Park Lake to the bridge above would have ended with a diamond in the drink).

There’s no reason, of course, to storm YouTube. But it’s hard to come away not feeling just a tad disappointed or foolish.

The best of the viral videos – like "David After Dentist," which is approaching 75 million views – capture genuine moments, unhindered by polished production. There's something occasionally nice about sharing a few minutes of real life with millions of other folks online.

So while there won't be nuptials for Frank and Kasey, we'll just have to make do with the "JK Wedding Entrance Dance," in which the wedding party buoyantly bounced down the aisle at a Minnesota couple's marriage ceremony, witnessed by 59 million and counting on YouTube.

The dance spurred similar happy goofiness in the Jim and Pam wedding episode of "The Office." The wedding party members got to recreate their feat on the "Today" show – which recently put out its own video of the staff lip-synching the Black Eyed Peas' “I’ve Got a Feeling” in an elaborately choreographed number inspired by a viral video made by some Canadian college students.

So keep you eyes open – especially when watching some of the web videos, genuine and otherwise, below:
 

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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