In 'Satire' Three-Fer, 'Bill Murray Foiling Japanese Bank Robbery' Racist, Unfunny, And Plagiarized
Those hilariouslynon-funny satirists at the National Report have done it again, with a fake news story about Bill Murray accidentally helping to capture a bank robber in Tokyo. The story seemed just plausible enough that it was picked up by Express UK, the website for the British tabloid. Nothing too surprising about that, really; fake-news pollution is just part of the media landscape now. But it was enough to inspire a longish "think before you tweet" post at Mediaite, with handy tips like "you don’t share stories about [amazing news] when you come across them without doing your due diligence as a media consumer" and "spend 5 seconds Googling the story" before you help it go viral. These are excellent pointers for people media-savvy enough to already be reading Mediaite. But if Bill Murray did not stop a bank robbery in Japan, why are any of us even here?
So what didn't happen was this: According to the National Report story, a robber dashed out of a bank, saw Bill Murray (in Tokyo to promote a movie) walking down the street, and stopped to chat with him, asking him if he was "Bob Harris," the character Murray played in Lost in Translation. While the two talked, Tokyo police arrived and arrested the robber. Oh, that is some pretty edgy satire there -- Japanese criminals are too dumb to distinguish between movies and reality!
If anything, the story has a few more hints that it's satire than the typical National Report piece; there's this "eyewitness statement" (not quoted in the British retelling) from an American businessman who witnessed the robbery:
“I’m not shaken up about the robbery at all, I’m pretty much a foot or two taller than all the people over here, so I thought it was kind of like a really cute bank robbery, if that’s possible. What I am shaken up about the most is that Bill Murray was the one who stopped this guy and I didn’t get a chance to meet him.” Horner continued, “Bill Murray is my personal hero and today he was an actual hero for the city of Tokyo. What a living legend that guy is.”
And the eyewitness is "Paul Horner," a name that shows up in a lot of National Report stories, because it's a funny inside joke. Even more funnier, the story ends with a Japanese bank executive speaking in hilarious broken English, and expressing the simple childlike glee that small island nation's amusing inhabitants take in American celebrities:
“We love Bill Murray very much in our country, he is very funny man,” said Tomi Tanaka who is manager of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. “Tomorrow, we are giving Mr. Murray an award with very big ceremony. It will be very excellent, everyone in Tokyo is invited.”
Sadly #CancelNationalReport doesn't seem to be trending on Twitter.
The Mediaite column does find a new wrinkle on the National Report, noting that the Murray story had previously run in January 2013 and that the National Report text is identical, so hey, we can add plagiarism to their sterling record of fake-news trolling.
The Mediaite piece also has some really good suggestions you kind of wish people would give some thought to, like that idea about googling "[Random outrageous story] hoax" before emailing to everyone you know, or the wise observation that you look at other stories from the same publication. Now, if only those tips could get forwarded to the people who actually need them -- not that they would actually follow them, as anyone would already know if they've ever tried to tell a teabagger coworker to read Snopes before forwarding that story about Barack Obama sacrificing babies to the Muslim gods at the White house on Christmas.
Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. He thinks satire is better when it's funny, but he's kind of simple that way.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.