“They can’t put something on the Internet that isn’t true.”
“Where’d you hear that?”
“Uh … bon jour.”
— State Farm commercial, 2012
Be it Letterman, Leno, Kimmel, Conan, Fallon or Ferguson, I don’t watch any late-night TV hosts consistently. And by consistently, I mean, “more than once each year.”
But maybe I should. After all, satire often does a much better job pointing out the insane manner we approach life than reasoned arguments.
Take the case of one Jimmy Kimmel, for example, and a girl named Caitlin Heller. A few months ago, Heller uploaded a YouTube video of herself “twerking” — which, to my best guess, is a person gyrating to music while their hands are on the floor and their feet are on the wall. Whether it’s twerking, Tebowing or planking, we’re proving that a million monkeys typing for a million years might not produce Shakespeare after all, but that’s beside the point.
Heller decided to “twerk” on the door of her apartment, just when her roommate opened the door. She fell onto her coffee table, spilling the candles and setting her yoga pants on fire.
After taking the nation by storm, Heller gave her first television interview to Jimmy Kimmel, who’s had some solid interviews with people thrust into celebrity. Longtime residents might remember Kimmel interviewing “the burrito boy,” a Marshall Junior High student named Michael Morrissey who inadvertently caused a school lockdown when somebody thought the wrapped burrito he made for school was a gun.
The difference, however, is that Heller’s incident wasn’t real. Kimmel and “Caitlin” let the world in on their joke last week by airing the extended version of the video … where Kimmel busts in and extinguishes the fire. Caitlin Heller was really professional stuntwoman Daphne Avalon.
“We shot that video two months ago and we posted it on YouTube,” Kimmel said. “We didn’t send it to any TV stations. I didn’t tweet it, we didn’t put it on any news websites. We just put it on YouTube and let the magic happen.”
The magic was that everybody went on the date with the French model. Kimmel said staff ignored numerous media interview requests sent to the YouTube account, and then showed a minute-long blitz of news outlets that “just had to show you” this video. Clips from 17 different shows were aired. Kimmel said there were plenty more to pick from, including one that reasoned it was retroactively Miley Cyrus’ fault. I have a feeling a lot fewer than 17 programs will be donating any airtime to noting how they got fooled.
I’m not sure which applies more here — “Trust, but verify,” or just the general idea those shows could have spent that time explaining Syria or Obamacare or anything else that matters more than flammable yoga pants.
I’d prefer the message not be delivered by satire, but it’s better than no message at all. How do you say, “Good job, Jimmy,” in French?
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: