Dear Jimmy Kimmel,
You've trolled humankind for years, but let's focus on the acts that have most recently infected the web.
It was clear you found your YouTube groove last April when you humiliated interviewed Coachella fans in "Lie Witness News."
The subsequent series followed a similar formula, exploiting high-brow fashionistas and overly eager digital savants. We get it, tropes are funny (albeit insanely obvious). We laughed anyway, because no one likes a know-it-all.
We met twerk girl, the star of your most perfect prank to date — from the video's poor quality to the unsuspecting upload from "Caitlin Heller" (seriously, giving Daphne Avalon a fake name was brilliant), who just wanted to surprise her boyfriend.
Everything but the stunt itself felt so organic that we willingly overlooked the red flags.
Through it all, you sat back in complete discretion and let the Internet find it for ourselves. Any advertiser would have ruined the whole act with a subtle attempt at branding, but you gave the human public more credit than that. You chose to watch, silently, as the web embarrassed itself.
"OMG, this girl caught on fire!" most of us exclaimed, without batting a skeptical eyelash. Some won't admit it, especially now. For one reason or another, we all wanted it to be real. For media, it was the kind of content that puts bread on the table for days. And for unassuming web dwellers, it was a hell of a refresher to daily cat videos. It was just too good to be fake.
So, well played. It was a seamless execution and you got us, myself included.
That being said, consider this letter an intervention. We're cutting you off. Your spark of genius has spread into an uncontrollable wildfire of hoaxes, and I wish we'd never fueled it. We're cutting you off. Your spark of genius has spread into an uncontrollable wildfire of hoaxes, and I wish we'd never fueled it.
You know how sequels never quite live up to the legacy of the original? Let's just say, the Scary Movie franchise should have ended when the Wayans Brothers left.
Ultimately, while you did succeed in getting the public to talk about the wolf prank, the overall reaction was confusion. In this case, most called bullshit from the start, beating the "cry wolf" pun to a sad headline death. Most were skeptical as to why a U.S. Olympian was, apparently, publicly embarrassing herself over a stray dog.
To add insult to injury, your execution was sloppy, the content was questionable (perhaps a result of your first project) and you were too impatient to reveal how foolish everyone was for falling for one of your tricks again.
Perhaps the most infuriating part was it turned out you were tweeting for her, proving the only wolf in sheep's clothing is you.
Basically, you've ruined spontaneity and fun for the Internet. Lately, I can't help but wonder if you're going to pop out of my screen at any second, like your Oscars stunt — which for this sake of word count and misery, I won't even touch on.
It's just no longer enjoyable to share these funny videos. What's the point if nothing is real?
I appreciate and admire a good prank. The Internet was never free of hoaxes and trolls. Yet by troll standards, you've even failed at that — you reveal yourself in the end. You've simultaneously lost faith in and damaged the Internet's ability to sniff out a phony, and that won't end in your favor. You've simultaneously lost faith in and damaged the Internet's ability to sniff out a phony, and that won't end in your favor.
"As long as people want to be the first one to post something, to get people to click through, it will be easy," you told Re/code in regards to repeating pranks. But what's the point of all this, anyway? Is it to drive that audience back to television? (Good luck.)
And if it's indeed so easy to domineer the viral video space, where are the views to show for it?
According to The Guardian Jimmy Fallon receives roughly 2.7 views for every 1 view your videos receive on YouTube. That's 27.4 million to your 7.6 million.
As an early adopter to YouTube, you've held the most subscribers against Fallon, Conan and Lettermen. But Fallon's hardly promoting himself on the platform, and still doubling the very audience that gave you the virility you're so desperately trying to replicate.
The jokes were fun while they lasted. We might have even fell for a few. But you've lost sight of the average Internet user, and that's a mistake.