In Search of Web Parody

Archive for April 2009

After an overwhelming response to yesterday’s post about dehydrated water, I just had to follow up with this hoax:  Ban Dihydrogen Monoxide!

This hoax began back in 1989 when some UC Santa Cruz college students circulated a photocopied flyer (how quaint!) around campus warning about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.   Uh, for those of you who slept through first period science class, that would be “water”.

In 1994, a webpage was created by the fictitious Coalition to Ban DHMO.  This site can be viewed here courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

In 1997, a 14-year old high school student circulated a petition to ban the dangerous DHMO as part of an experiment for his high school science fair showing how people can be led to scientifically false conclusions.

All of the above events finally led to the creation of the comprehensive DHMO.org site in 1998.

 

dhmo

Here’s a hoax site that makes me thirsty!  The buydehydratedwater.com company uses a 27-step process that bonds, secretes, and harvests water molecules to create pure natural dehydrated water.  The best part is, you can actually purchase (really!) the product on the website for only $9.95.  But wait, there’s more!  You can also buy  t-shirts, mugs, lip balms, and other dehydrated water gift items.

The site also offers employment opportunites with generous benefits including free dehydrated water,  complimentary Twinkies, and usage of restroom facilities.   You can learn more about the product in the FAQ and testimonial sections.

Be sure to  check out the Media page.  On the left side is a list of search terms that people used to reach the site over the years.  Here are a few of them:  “cool jobs that make a difference”, “dog pooping on my lawn”, “dry sinus passage”.  Although the rest of the site is a hoax, based on my experience with websites I’m betting these are genuine.

Here’s an interesting blog post  about how some school kids fell for the site.

Buy Dehydrated Water

Buy Dehydrated Water

12/4/09 Update – I had to delete a couple of these entries since they are no longer valid.  Here is a great Twitter List of fake accounts to follow.

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Love it or hate it, Twitter is here to stay (at least for the time being…).  Along with a new form of communication comes a new form of parody: Fake tweets.

If you google “best fake twitter”, you will see results listing various people’s opinions on the subject.  Since I am not much of a twitterer, I decided the best way to write this post would be to go through the first several pages of google results and highlight the “best fake Twitter accounts” that are listed most frequently.  How’s that for lazy?

Here are the fake Twitter accounts that showed up most frequently on the “Best Lists”  (and if your personal favorite is not listed, please add it in the comments below):

For all of you Star Wars fans:

Fake Twitter - Darth Vader

From the Fox show Arrested Development:

Fake Twitter - Dr Tobias Funke

Film director/producer Michael Bay:

twitter-bay

In case you are wondering, Abe Vigoda is still alive as of this post:

twitter-abe

Stephen Colbert is a favorite. There seems to be some disagreement over which Colbert is the best, so I included them both:

twitter-colbert1

Fake Twitter - Stephen Colbert

Stewie Griffin, the scary baby from the Family Guy cartoon:

twitter-stewie

Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat:

twitter-borat

Another Fake Twitter fan favorite was Chuck Norris.  I had  a little trouble finding the right one but I think this is it:

twitter-chuck

One of the all-time popular fake twitter accounts was cwalken – Christopher Walken.  Twitter shut down the account in March.

Here is the list of sites I visited to compile my “Best of the Best Fake Twitter Accounts”:

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Thanks to reader Pleated Jeans for recommending this parody site: MailOrderHusbands.net

For years, men have been able to purchase mail-order brides from overseas.  It only seems fair (and convenient!) that women also have a chance to order their perfect mate online.   So ladies, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back, relax, and peruse the delightful assortment of would-be husbands available.  Better keep the bottle nearby…

The site has a multiple-choice compatibility test that uses proprietary algorithms to determine the best fit for you.  Having done my best to answer these challenging questions honestly, I am quite happy with the bachelor specially chosen for me:  Arnaud, from France.   Too bad I’m already married…

This site was mentioned on numerous blogs.  All the ones I read thought it was hilarious.  Here’s a good post with some funny comments.  

There is also a Facebook group called  MailOrderHusbands.Net that currently has 256 members.  Will wonders never cease?

MailOrderHusbands.Net

MailOrderHusbands.Net

In November 2006, two weeks before Firefox 2.0 was released, a parody website went online that advertised a Microsoft version of Firefox.  The UK website “The Register” went along with the joke and posted a news story about it.  Some people actually believed it.

While most technically oriented people saw the humor in this site, here’s a guy who fell for it six months later.   The website was originally located at http://www.msfirefox.net, but it has since been taken down.  Thanks again to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine for this link to the msfirefox site.

 

Microsoft Firefox

Microsoft Firefox

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A word of warning – some people find this hoax site extremely offensive.  Other people find it funny.  It has an interesting backstory, so that is why I chose this particular site to review today.

The website is called Bonsai Kitten and it purports to offer a kit that allows you to mold your little kitty into the shape of your choice.  Uh, that would be your live little kitty.  But rest assured, the glass vessel that your kitty is stuffed into has air holes and feeding tubes to keep your beloved baby Garfield alive during the time it takes for the kitten to fully grow into the desired shape.

This hoax site was created by some MIT graduate students back in December 2000.   After receiving a number of complaints from animal lovers afraid that the site was real, the FBI launched an investigation.  Several animal rights groups got involved and the ISP shut down the website.  It was subsequently moved to other ISPs and mirrored in multiple locations.  Some of these mirrors were also shut down as a result of the controversy.

The actual website, http://www.bonsaikitten.com was taken down in 2006. The site can be still viewed here via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

 

Bonsai Kitten Hoax website

Bonsai Kitten Hoax website

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Uncyclopedia, a parody of Wikipedia, came online in 2005.  The stated goal of this site is to “provide the world’s misinformation in the least redeeming and most searingly sarcastic and humorous way possible, through satire”.

It has over 23,000 articles – – all of them false.   Like its target Wikipedia, anyone can add or edit articles about any subject matter.   It’s not surprising that this site has generated many complaints from people who are worried that it will spread false information. 

 As an example, Malaysia’s Internal Security Ministry issued a warning  in January 2008 about “untruths, insults, and ridicule” found in Uncyclopedia articles about Malaysia.

I suppose it is impossible to create a parody website without offending somebody somewhere…

 

This page can be found at uncyclopedia.wiki.com

This website can be found at uncyclopedia.wiki.com