Was "Worst Twerk Fail EVER" A Betrayal of Wonder and All That is Good In the World?

Friday, September 13, 2013 - 12:42 PM

This week we learned that Worst Twerk Fail EVER, the viral clip that had captured the hearts and minds of America was in fact a hoax. 

When the clip began circulating this month, people loved it. It purported, after all,  to show a woman twerking and accidentally setting her butt on fire.

People loved it as a window onto a moment of humiliation and real-life slapstick. The only problem? It was all a ruse, staged by Jimmy Kimmel, using a professional stuntwoman. He confessed this week after the video had accrued over ten million views. 

Alex Goldman and I had weeklong argument about this hoax. Alex felt it was a betrayal of something that's supposed to be great about the internet -- that it's a place to find genuinely strange moments of human life. I felt like it was dumb America's Funniest Home Video denominator from its outset and didn't really mind that it was not real.

Anyhow. Our conversation is here. Starting now, we'll be doing short TLDR podcasts. We're thinking of this one as episode zero. Starting next week, you'll be able to subscribe to get episodes delivered to your device of choice. If you like it, please let us know in the comments or follow us on Twitter. If you hate it, please let us know on the comments, or follow us on Twitter

Produced by:

Alex Goldman


More in:

Comments [14]

JC Harris

Reading the other comments it's clear that the prevailing sentiment is that 'the world is a cynical and ironic place, wake up.' I disagree. I don't quite see the point of this video. It reminds me of Borat---and that's not a compliment. Yes, the world is a crappy place that you can't trust and you should just enjoy life for what it is. Fine.

But I'm thinking back on Will Rogers now: do I need to -add- to the pile of crap just to get a laugh? (or lots of Youtube hits?)

Sep. 18 2013 01:31 AM
Morgan from Seattle, WA

Alex, I'm as old as you, if not older. (I accessed my first bbs from my C64, so there's my nerd cred.) But when I was listening to this discussion I kept yelling in public. Every time you said 'it makes me distrust everything on the internet.) I would yell 'GOOD!' or 'HOW IS THAT A BAD THING!'. I really feel like, yes it's important to open-hearted but if you don't have at least a soupcon of cynicism than the internet is going to bad things to you heart, head and maybe your bank account.

There were horrible BBS based scams including lots of charity scams. The internet is the worlds largest city, and just like any city, it's important to keep your wits about you.

Anyway, thanks for all the good work on OTM, and I'll be following this new show with interest.

Sep. 17 2013 01:03 PM
Adam Lipkin from Watertown, MA

Hey, guys -- I'm happy that this 'cast is getting started, but you might want to look into making it more suitable for those of us who like to listen on the go instead of downoading to the computer. You probably know that the first rss link didn't work, and although the new one does, it comes with the ugly name "Content tagged tldr_show on http://www.onthemedia.org," not exactly iPod friendly. Any chance of adding it as a proper iTunes-ready podcast that people can subscribe to through the iTunes interface?



Sep. 17 2013 12:39 PM
Potomacker from Nanjing

Is this what passes for media criticism?

Sep. 17 2013 12:37 AM
Fake Namington

"Alex felt it was a betrayal of something that's supposed to be great about the internet -- that it's a place to find genuinely strange moments of human life."

The genuine internet is still out there you just need to dig deep.

Sep. 14 2013 03:42 PM
Candace Clemens from Arlington, MA

Jimmy Kimmel totally rocked this one. Tasteful and exceptionally relevant on many ways. a) poked fun without saying a thing about Miley Cyrus (relevant to a very controversial subject); b) poked fun at twerking, again, w/out saying it (IMHO twerking is a bit offensive for general audiences); c) did NOT trick the media...the media took the bait w/out fact checking; d) finally -- on a more serious level -- reminded everyone that they should NOT rush to judgement, taking anything "too seriously" on YouTube w/out first fact checking. Ultimately -- the video that arguably resulted in riots and Benghazi -- and other controversial videos taking "out of context" -- cyberbullies are enabled by people who don't take the time to fact check. The media got caught with their pants down on this one. Hysterical, and kudos to Kimmel.

Sep. 14 2013 01:57 PM
btroyer from London

Firstly, I am a very big fan of On The Media as well as the both of you. But, you lost your innocence over what is real and fake on the Internet? Sounds fishy. My cynical ear for reporting makes me wonder if you two are just taking sides to invent a conversation.

I think you missed the bigger story which is Jimmy Kimmel's intentional or accidental punking of the mainstream news media which uses Funny Internet Detritus that they barely understand to fill airtime. They present much like a grandparent showing children last years popular toy and stopping just short of saying, "We found this on The Google." Should they be airing completely un-corroborated material and assuming the user's YouTube description is accurate? Do they care at all?

Sep. 14 2013 07:26 AM

Come on, empathy for the Twerker? If it was so embarrassing, it would not have been posted...
(and tell Bob I always use my name...)

Sep. 14 2013 05:52 AM


Sep. 13 2013 06:17 PM

Here's a link to the vine girl! Be prepared to watch it on a loop for hours.


Sep. 13 2013 05:20 PM
Frankie from NJ

Link to the vine of the girl eating potato chips?

Sep. 13 2013 05:14 PM
Courtney from Lawrence, Kan.


On a serious note, I've quite enjoyed the TLDR posts over the last week. They've been a pleasant addition to my FB feed.

Sep. 13 2013 04:04 PM

We're actually just trying to sell you some KFC. Sorry to be so transparent.

Sep. 13 2013 02:40 PM
Courtney from Lawrence, Kan.

How can I trust that this is a genuine reaction, and not just a cold-hearted attempt by the OTM media machine to manipulate your listeners into feeling empathy with Alex and PJ?

Sep. 13 2013 02:34 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Supported by

Embed the TLDR podcast player

TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by Meredith Haggerty. You can subscribe to the TLDR podcast here. You can follow our blog here. I tweet @manymanywords and @tldr.

Subscribe to Podcast iTunes RSS