I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Valley Facebook legions, but Charlie Sheen is not moving to Fresno and running for mayor. Friendly Madera residents did not help Jim Carrey with a flat tire. Miley Cyrus and Scarlett Johansson aren’t moving to Tulare and Madera, respectively, because Los Angeles is just too fake.
Here is my quick analysis of each story, in order from favorite to least favorite.
Charlie Takes Fresno
Love it. Love everything about it. Tell me you can’t see him in the trenches with Henry, Lee and H. discussing high-speed rail and whether Chukchansi Park was a failed experiment? I bet Wild Thing loves our ballpark.
The story claims Sheen has gotten tired of fake LA people and wants to move somewhere with genuine, down-to-earth folks, which leads me to my absolute favorite part: The utterly SAVAGE most popular Facebook comment.
“I live in Fresno and there are fake, judgmental, racist and mean people here too. It's everywhere. If Alan Autry can run for mayor and win two terms, maybe he can too. Stranger things have been known to happen.”
*picks up phone, dials 559-498-STOP*
Hello, yes Crime Stoppers? I’d like to report a severe burn. Yes. Alan Autry. Uh-huh. Yeah, it was in the comment section of this fake news... *dial tone* Hello?
But I love Alan. He was always good to me when I was a kid. He was even going to let me be in his Western, I am told, but my dad’s character would have had to kill mine. Pops didn’t want to do that. I am not bitter or anything. It just killed my dreams of stardom. No big deal.
ScarJo in Clovis
If this one were true, I’d be spending A LOT more time in Clovis.
You know how Huffington Post has reporters who only follow Kim Kardashian? Yeah, that. I would write two weekly columns: video games and Scarlett Johansson’s favorite frozen yogurt flavors. I bet it’s strawberry – she seems feisty.
Unfortunately, the writing in this one is pretty boring. It’s basically a mix of the Sheen and Cyrus articles.
But seriously – how perfect is she for Kaa in “The Jungle Book?” What a fantastic choice.
Dancing with Miley, doing whatever we want (in Tulare)
This one kicked off the hysteria for me. Miley is so erratic, that I very briefly believed it was possible before clicking the link. I felt like an idiot, but judging by its nearly 400 comments, I am not the only one who was duped.
Fake Miley is right though: Tulare people are super nice.
Carrey’s flat tire
I did not believe this one in the slightest. Nobody on Avenue 12 is stopping for someone else’s flat tire – not even Jim Carrey’s.
And why does everyone like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” It is so bad. It’s like this weird combination of sci-fi, romance and actual mental health issues. I have never understood the hype.
My friend told me that a Justin Bieber to Visalia entry was out there, but I couldn’t find it. It actually would have been the most credible, given his recent exploits in the Valley. But the link is dead, so no soup for Justin.
I first learned of these hoaxes a few weeks ago from Marc Benjamin, my Bee colleague who does not sleep and misses nothing – and I mean nothing – remotely newsworthy in the central San Joaquin Valley. He shared the Miley story on Facebook, which actually caused South Valley reporter Lew Griswold to briefly look into its validity.
As best I can tell, some person or people is writing these intentionally vague and plugging in probably hundreds of city names. They post to various fake URLs linking people to fake news sites. For example, Miley is also moving to Meridian, Idaho – wherever that is.
I was once worked, to my everlasting shame, for a clickbait website. We all know that Buzzfeed is at the top of the heap, and pages like these are towards the bottom. Maybe I am a little better at spotting fake stories than others, but I was shocked by the hundreds of locals who commented – sincerely, it appears – on these pages. I am not going to put anyone on blast, but I’ve had more than a few Facebook friends share them out earnestly.
The comments could be sarcastic or people just playing along, but internet sarcasm is impossible to measure.
It serves as a cautionary tale to the Facebook society we live in, but take a look at the comment sections in these stories. I am surprised by the honest, albeit NSFW, conversations about each particular city. People are having somewhat serious debates about regional stereotypes, like everyone in the Valley being addicted to methamphetamine.
We should like, have those conversations, but in a better place.
Did I miss one? Disagree with my order? Let me know in the comments!