The 4400

Debunking Paranormal Videos (That Were Just Viral Ads)

Welcome back. I sure didn’t update much in 2018, except to celebrate the ongoing death of the InfoWars empire.

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in Austin… near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read…

And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Alex Jones, buy my brain supplements;
Before Obama turns frogs gay!’
Nothing beside remains.

Solemnly presses F.

But we’re snared in an ongoing conspiracy hell, and so the Space Lizard Report must rise with…a post about viral ads people think are evidence of the paranormal.

“It’s a viral ad” is the most tired of suggestions tossed out whenever a paranormal event is recorded, no matter how unlikely (I have fond memories of people accusing Cartoon Network of planting the Montauk Monster corpse). But sometimes it’s true: something created as part of a guerilla ad campaign loses its context, loses its last-second website link or show tease, and is believed by many thousands, even millions of people as evidence of the supernatural. Here are some examples.

WTC UFO

Most popular upload: 449K views; millions across multiple uploads; appeared on Japanese TV show

Real Origin: Sci-Fi Channel ad campaign

Here’s one I covered before. A series of fake ads for the Sci-Fi Channel, Sci-Fi Happens seemed destined to be forgotten…until this one ad from 2000 gained new and horrible significance. Half-remembered viewings fed into the myth, even transforming into a sighting “the day before” the attacks instead of an ad from a full year earlier. It was easy to forget it was an ad; it was easy to assume it had been on Sightings or some other paranormal show, or even on the nascent paranormal internet.

Of course, now that we have the video there’s no excuse.

This Man

Spread as: Internet meme, myth, odd and unexplained cameos in the revived X-Files

Real origin: An ad agency doing…something?

This Man was a creepy myth about a man who appeared in the dreams of man all over the world. What was he? What was he doing? What was his sinister plan?

To be an…art project? Failed film pitch? Who…knows? Crafted by an ad agency. Sure.

“Alien Attacks Police Officer”

Spread As: 660K+ views across popular uploads

Real Origin: Viral ad for The 4400

Oh, The 4400. A good mid-00s sci-fi show on USA, The 4400 focused on 4,400 missing people who returned in a ball of light after years, even decades away. Soon, they discover that many of the 4,400 possess supernatural abilities; and all are back for a reason…

Sadly, The 4400 is a good display of what could be termed the Anti-Lost: that is, the opposite of Lost. The 4400 is that rare show that explained too much: by the end of the six-episode first season, we’ve been told the entire story behind the abductions. The 4400 never became a bad show, except during a stretch where it made a character’s baby grow up in seconds & become an all-powerful demi-god, which, what even, but it never reached the heights of a Lost or even early Heroes.

And so, by the time of The 4400‘s final season, only 8,000 people watched a video called “Promicin Freak Kills Cop”.

…and so it was easy-pickings for someone to strip off the The 4400 promos at the start and end, and turn it into a dubious paranormal video stalwart for years to come.

Source for debunking: IsaacKoi

John Titor, Time Traveler

Spread as: internet meme; urban legend

Real Origin: Ad for a book

Another one I’ve covered previously, the news that John Titor had long been solved – as an ad for a shitty book that no one read – was a tremendous disappointment. Now, let us move on.

English Sewer Alien

Spread as: 1 Million+ views over multiple uploads

Real Origin: April Fool’s Day prank by a utility company

Multiple videos uploaded by United Utilities show an unnerving creature hiding in England’s sewers; they’ve become a mainstay of creepy video compilations ever since.

Of course, they brush past a few facts: the video’s April 1st upload date, or that its creators openly said it was a prank meant to make people think about the real issue of flushing waste down the drain. Oh well.

Teleporting Girl In China

Spread as: 11 million views on most popular upload

Real Origin: ad for a MMO

Another mainstay of bullshit video compilations, here we see it uploaded with an ostentatious Guy Fawkes Mask intro.

The invaluable IsaacKoi also provides the source for this one: after apparently debating if angels exist for several pages, AboveTopSecret noticed a game company’s logo subtly inserted into the video. Then they discovered that the video was straight-up linked on the game’s website. Whoops.

 

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