The Para Geek finds himself in the position of having to point out the obvious: any clip of video can be hoaxed. The interwebz is chock full of them and their production values range from frisbee-tossed UFOs to masterfully constructed digitized phantoms. Some are so artfully done that the only thing stopping people from believing them is that they’re just too good to be true for all but the numbest of minds.
More to the point though is that any video effect can be recreated. It isn’t difficult to look at a video clip and say: “I can do that.” Within minutes you can go from viewing a “Ghost Head” video to uploading a recreation of your own. Now all you gotta do is kick back and watch the hits roll in!
Shows like Fact or Faked will routinely launch into this mode of “can it be done?” hypothesis. Never mind that most sham artists aren’t walking around in public with bulky fog machines, projectors or huge pieces of glass in order to create a hoax. There are less extravagant ways to fake things. And any self-respecting Youtube huckster probably isn’t going to spend more than a few bones to create a grainy short video on the off-chance it may go viral…
It just doesn’t prove some random footage is fake if all someone does is throw up a debunked clip to show that they can do it, too; this cat-and-mouse game of finding an unbelievable video, recreating it using different methods (or perhaps the same – who knows) and then announcing to the world it’s been proven to be a hoax with yet another video doesn’t really prove it to be a fraud. Even if you know it is.
But we all know it isn’t about proving a video is fake… It’s about showing geeky ways to create the fake! I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be watching cool ways to fool people with a hologram than be told how it was (probably) done.
It’s kind of like that masked magician who explains how to do all of those tricks: we love the “magic” part because we don’t know how the trick was done, but we do know that none of these butt-rocker-mullet-slinging magicians are drawing from some unseen force to pull a rabbit out of his hat. If all that was said was “it’s done by placing a mirror here at precisely a 90 degree angle,” we’d be thinking: “boring!” as we change the channel. But when he shows us how the trick is done, his ratings shoot through the roof.
We all love fake paranormal videos because we all love to think we know how they’re done. If we can figure out how to self-promote our opinions, then we’re going to do just that. Because in the end, it doesn’t matter if we’ve proven something is a hoax but whether we can get others to go along with it. In a round about way, we’re really just creating the same type of illusion for the same audience.