Dangers of Media Hoaxing

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Hoaxes come in various forms and in various media. In 1998, William Boyd used
the Nat Tate biography hoax to mock the glitterati of the New York art world and the media
reception processes. Alan Sokal submitted his hoax essay to the journal Social Text in 1996
to demonstrate scientific weak peer review processes and their preference for fashionable
scientific buzz words, and The Yes Men continue to practice media hoaxes to expose large
corporations’ failure to take responsibility for environmental disasters. Recently, the use
of deepfake technology has added a new dimension to hoaxing practices and intensified
the debate about the ethical concerns of faking. Hoaxes are often related to comic amusement, but they hold a potential for societal critique that can be dangerous and ethically
challenging to the hoaxers as well as to the people and institutions being hoaxed. In this
chapter, I investigate the dangers of fictionality in media hoaxing. Through a case study
of two diverse examples of media hoaxing, The Yes Men’s Dow Chemical media hoax on
BBC World and the deepfake of Tom Cruise on TikTok, the chapter uncovers how hoaxes
possess potential dangers because they are equally dependent on both an initial deceit
and the exposure of this deceit. It is a key argument that the latter can be explained as an
evoking of fictionality. Thus, the aim of this chapter is to contribute with a new definition
of hoaxing (hoaxing = deceit plus fictionality) and an analytical framework designed to
analyse hoaxing and its implications. The framework is created through an interlinking
of fictionality as a rhetorical strategy with the idea of media affordances which can take
into account how a hoax is both fully dependent on and shaped by a given media platform
and its affordances.
TitelDangers of Narrative and Fictionality : A Rhetorical Approach to Storytelling in Contemporary Western Culture
RedaktørerPernille Meyer Christensen, Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen, Maria Mäkelä, Samuli Björninen
Antal sider23
ForlagPeter Lang
ISBN (Trykt) 9783631851739
ISBN (Elektronisk) 9783631894767
StatusUdgivet - 2024
NavnLiterary and Cultural Studies, Theory and the (New) Media


  • Hoaxing
  • Fictionality
  • Deepfake
  • Social Media
  • TikTok
  • Tom Cruise
  • The Yes Men


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