As the end of the year draws nearer and we prepare to bask in the joy and humility that only a federal holiday can instill in the hearts of man, we here at MTV News are reflecting on yet another facet of humankind: The schadenfreude that is a truly well-executed hoax. We hit up master prankster Elan Gale to curate a few of his favorites from this rapidly expiring year.
In case you unplugged this past Thanksgiving, Gale was the author of a hoax to end all hoaxes on that fateful Turkey Day. While on a plane on Thanksgiving Day, Gale got into an epic battle with a rude passenger named Diane — one that he live-tweeted to his more than 100,000 followers. Gale sent Diane a series of handwritten notes, which he then took snaps of and shared. The whole thing, dramatically, ended with a slap. Or, it did according to Gale's tweets. Yup, although myriad news outlets reported the fight as fact, it was, in the end, a whole lot of fiction. Take a look at a snap of "Diane" below:
Here is Diana sitting in a chair pic.twitter.com/OE5q7j8dhr— elan gale (@theyearofelan) December 3, 2013
Although Gale's hoax was pretty monumental, there were a few more that surfaced this past year that could potentially dethrone invisible Diane. Check out Gale's favorites below:
Kyle Kinane Vs. Pace Foods
You're doing it wrong, Pace. pic.twitter.com/Va2FsobaiR— Kyle Kinane (@kylekinane) December 1, 2013
The Hoax: When comedian Kyle Kinane jokingly tweeted at Pace Foods about their commercials, he never expected the company to favorite his negative musings. And he certainly never expected to get into an epic feud with the company — one laced with free salsa, disappearing employees and all manner of intrigue. But what he expected even less was for the whole thing to be a hoax carried out by fellow comedian Randy Liedtke, a man with a taste for creating faux brand accounts. There are more layers here than an onion — an onion minced up and added to a bottle of Pace salsa.
Why Elan Chose It: This prank was brilliant because there were so many moving parts. A comedian was having a laugh at the expense of a non-existent corporate Twitter account. Meanwhile, another comedian was playing the role of several non-existent customer service people. It was amazing to watch and especially interesting to look back on when you realize that no one really knew what anyone else was going to do next and it still just came together and became a thoroughly engaging and thrilling story.
The Hoax: Notre Dame football player Manti Te'o got straight-up Catfished this year when he found out that his recently departed girlfriend — whom he had never met IRL — Lennay Kekua was, in reality, not a real person. Well, at least, not the person she was cracked up to be; instead "she" was a concoction created by a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an amateur religious musician who was in love with the football player.
Why Elan Chose It: No one will ever know the full story behind Manti Te'o and Lennay Kekua, and that's precisely what makes it so much fun to talk about. Any way you look at it, the Manti scandal transcended sports and became a part of our lives for weeks. Did he know she was fake? Did he really think she had died? His explanations were themselves confusing, and with the rising legend of the Catfish permeating our psyches, Manti became the #1 draft in everyone's Fantasy Girlfriend League.
Paris Hilton's Faked Nelson Mandela Tweet
Whoever made that stupid fake tweet lacks respect to the loss the world is mourning right now. Same goes for all the blogs who ran with it.— Paris Hilton (@ParisHilton) December 5, 2013
The Hoax: After Nelson Mandela died earlier this month, a tweet reportedly written by Paris Hilton circulated around the Web, reading: "RIP Nelson Mandela. Your 'I Have A Dream' speech was so inspiring. Amazing man." Hilton was not the author of the empty-headed missive, though; it was penned by a parody Twitter account called @DeletedTweets.
Why Elan Chose It: My favorite part of the forged Nelson Mandela tweet supposedly posted by Paris Hilton is that all it would have taken was one click to discover that it was fake, yet, people were so anxious to have someone to mock, they jumped all over it. This was a classic example of "too good to check," and it created spirited debates, which is what this season, and Twitter in general, is all about.
Jimmy Kimmel Twerk Hoax
The Hoax: Twerking may be a questionable pastime for many reasons, but not because it's inherently (literally) flammable. After a video started circulating the Web in which a girl lights herself on fire while twerking, Jimmy Kimmel came forward and admitted that the video was a hoax created by his team.
Why Elan Chose It: There is no question that the best-executed prank of the year was Jimmy Kimmel's epic twerk failure. Twerking, while very popular, is also quite dangerous, and the video where a young girl caught on fire as a result of her poor dance moves served as a cautionary tale for all us wannabe-Mileys. From a case of "too good to check," to a case of "too good to be true," people really ate this one up, and in the end, because it was Jimmy Kimmel, we all had a second set of laughs saved up. It doesn't matter if it's real as long as it's funny.
Letter To Santa
Dear Santa pic.twitter.com/715ZYRsr1n— Gequeoman (@Gequeoman) November 29, 2013
The Hoax: After a photo of a "kid's" letter to Santa turned up on Reddit — featuring a link to an Amazon product — the Internet took the cuteness and ran with it. Too bad it was a two-year joke from comedian Zack Poitras that had been snatched from his blog and shared sans attribution.
Why Elan Chose It: What's cuter or more efficient than a child including an Amazon link so Santa can easily order gifts? Nothing. This, to me, was the most believable prank of the year, though it seems the adult male comedian who actually wrote the note had nothing to do with its popularity. To be honest, this was the only time all year where I was saddened to learn that something wasn't real. I want to live in a world where my children make their requests by hyperlink.