Actor Russell Crowe is the latest victim in the celebrity death hoax game that seems to be sweeping the Internet because people have nothing better to do with their time than create these fake stories. There’s a website out there called FakeAWish.com that allows you to enter a celebrity’s name and it generates a list of scenarios that are completely false about that celebrity. Users can then pick a link and share it with their friends and followers via Facebook and Twitter, setting off these viral hoaxes that are nothing more than cruel to the celebrity victims’ family, friends and fans. For the record, Russell Crowe did not fall from a cliff in Austria and die.
Former stars that have been victims of these vicious rumors include Tom Cruise, Natalie Portman, Paris Hilton, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, and – most recently besides Russell Crowe – Fresh Prince of Bel Air star James Avery. In the case of Avery, it was a Twitter-fest of mistaken identity.
These stupid hoaxes happen so often that, when a celebrity actually does die, it can’t be taken too seriously. I remember when a friend told me that Heath Ledger had died. I didn’t believe her. I searched endlessly for article after article regarding Ledger’s death and one after the other kept popping up within minutes of each other. Sadly, in this case, the death was true and not a rumor. I was devastated that one of my favorite actors had died.
And what about Brett Michaels? These death hoaxes run rampant because people find it funny to start rumors, so I didn’t really believe this guy was on his death bed, clinging to life from a brain aneurysm. After all, I had just seen him on Celebrity Apprentice. How could he possibly be on the verge of dying? Then, it turns out that he really was in the hospital fighting for his life, and I felt bad.
These death rumors typically surge after a real celebrity death. With the passing of Rue McClanahan and Gary Coleman, of course we are going to get a new round of hoaxes. Following the actual death of Michael Jackson in 2009, Rick Astley, Britney Spears, Jeff Goldblum, and Harrison Ford were rumored to have died.
The Internet is an excellent place to get actual information, but it’s also a hot bed for setting off frenzies. And, really, when you think about it, it shows how truly powerful the Internet is. Anyone relying on Internet traffic to their sites for income can certainly generate it by posting a fake death report. Our society is so caught up in pop culture that we will click on any link we see that reports such information. When you think about it, who’s to blame? The people that make these stories up, or the people who make the fake stories go viral from an insatiable appetite for celebrity gossip?