Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fake airplane photos and other lying clickbait

Content promotion services like Taboola and Outbrain often get away with using fake or incorrect photos with articles because the pictures they use are so small. They use eye-catching thumbnail images that exploit the “curiosity gap.”
If the pictures were larger, more people could tell they were obviously fake or wrong.
For instance, recent clickbait articles on “stunning private jets” and strange-looking aircraft have been using Photoshopped images. Digital artists created images of crazy-looking airplanes in the mode of the recent “face swap” picture trend. They swapped the jet engines with the front of the planes for their wacky images. You can more easily see they are fake if you look at a larger image.

A Taboola article on exotic creatures used a Photoshopped image of a wet koala made to look like the mythical drop bear. See articles by the Museum of Hoaxes and Gizmodo.

An Outbrain article titled “The early days in Vegas left us speechless” used a photo from the science-fiction TV series “The Bionic Woman.” The scene in question is from the 1977 episode titled “Fembots in Las Vegas.”

Taboola recently ran an article titled “After losing 220 pounds Rebel Wilson is gorgeous now.” The Australian actress is estimated to have weighed as much as 291 pounds, but has lost weight recently. Still, I doubt she weighs just 70 pounds now.
The Taboola article pairs a photo of Wilson on the left with a body shot of California model Mikayla Carr on the right.
As President Trump would say, “Fake news! Sad.”

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Anastasia Kvitko is the cover girl for lying clickbait

Previously I’ve noted that French actress Brigitte Bardot is a favorite photo subject for lying clickbait articles. That’s because she was a strikingly attractive woman in the 1950s and 1960s when she was active in movies and young people don’t know who she is now.
The latest cover girl for lying clickbait articles is Russian glamour model Anastasia Kvitko, who has been called the Russian Kim Kardashian for her curvy figure.
Lately her Instagram photos have been used to promote a series of articles about what Olympic athletes look like today. But Kvitko was never an Olympian. Unless that sport is mountain climbing or motorboating, I guess.
I mentioned Kvitko in articles on lying clickbait on Jan. 30 and Feb. 12.
Here are some recent examples of lying clickbait articles that have used pictures of the stunning model.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Female reboot trend says more about Hollywood’s lack of creativity than feminism

The current trend in Hollywood of remaking popular movies that starred men using women started with last year’s “Ghostbusters” film.
Despite the fact that “Ghostbusters” (2016) was a costly flop (the studio reportedly lost more than $70 million on the flick), the female reboot trend has spread like the flu.
Currently in production is a female reboot of “Ocean’s Eleven.” The new movie, “Ocean’s Eight,” stars Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Rihanna. It’s set for release in June 2018.
Hathaway also is slated to star with Rebel Wilson in a remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (1988). The new movie is currently titled “Nasty Women.”
ABC is developing a sequel to “Magnum P.I.” that will revolve around Thomas Magnum’s daughter.
The Bill Murray comedy “What about Bob?” (1991) is being recast with a female lead for an NBC series titled “What about Barb?”
Meanwhile, some other movies that have been discussed for female reboots include “21 Jump Street,” “The Expendables,” “The Rocketeer” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
This trend isn’t so much about giving more starring roles to actresses. It’s a lazy way of rehashing old entertainment properties in a presumably fresh way. But this technique has become a cliché.
Changing the gender of the lead roles is usually a technique reserved for remaking public domain stories. Check out my article “How Hollywood remakes public domain stories and characters.”

Photo: The cast of “Ocean’s Eight.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Lying clickbait: Pretty women as the honeypot

I’ve documented many times how online content promotion services like to use photos of pretty women to attract visitors.
Sometimes they use a vaguely misleading headline with a picture of a sexy woman. Other times they misidentify the woman in the photo.
In one recent example on Yahoo, they used a photo of busty English glamour model Keeley Hazell with an article titled “McKayla Maroney looks completely unrecognizable.”
Yeah, she’s unrecognizable because that’s not her.

Here’s what Olympic gymnast Maroney looks like today.

In another example on Yahoo, a content promotion service used a photo of curvaceous Russian model Anastasia Kvitko with an article titled “These Olympians are completely jaw-dropping now.” Kvitko was never an Olympic athlete. (Is motor-boating an Olympic sport?)

A Taboola article titled “Michael Jackson’s daughter is absolutely gorgeous” used a photo of actress Brooke Shields, who is definitely not Jackson’s daughter. It is inexplicable why Taboola didn’t use a photo of Paris Jackson here. She is quite attractive and actually is Jackson’s daughter.

As I’ve noted before, photos of gorgeous French actress Brigitte Bardot are often used to advertise articles unrelated to her. (See “Lying clickbait: Brigitte Bardot photos were never ‘classified.’”)
Here are two more recent examples. Bardot’s image was used to promote Taboola articles titled “Rare photos not suitable for history books” and “Long-lost mobster photos that will make your skin crawl.”

Another Taboola article titled “12 mysterious photos that cannot be explained” used a photo of actress Penelope Cruz. It is a magazine cover – done, explained.

Finally, here’s a lying clickbait article titled “Celebs who got their start in porn” that used a photo of actress Cameron Diaz. Normally I don’t click on these clickbait articles, but I had to check this one out. The list includes actresses like Diaz who have posed for nude photos, but have not done pornography. There’s a big difference.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lying clickbait: Radical celebrity transformations

One type of lying clickbait often used by content promotion services involves pairing a celebrity with a photo of a freaky-looking person. The clickbait uses text alleging that the weird-looking person is either the celebrity today or their offspring.
The first photo is the recognizable celebrity and the second photo is a mug shot or portrait of a drug user or an oddball.
Examples I’ve previously highlighted involved Kellie Williams, Steve Zahn, Anna Chlumsky and Lisa Bonet.
Here’s a fresh example involving Alison Arngrim, a child actress from “Little House on the Prairie.”
A picture of her from that classic show is paired with a mug shot of a drug user for a clickbait article titled “43 stars who’ve grown into being horrible looking creatures.”
The woman in the red shirt is believed to be a meth user. Her picture is featured in the internet meme “Maybe she’s born with it … maybe it’s methamphetamine,” a takeoff on the ad slogan for cosmetics firm Maybelline.

Here’s what the adult Arngrim really looks like.

A Revcontent article titled “Harrison Ford has pretty much given up on his son” uses a photo of Ford next to a man who’s not his son. The other man, Jason Walter Barnum, has scary face and head tattoos.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Candidates for TV watch list: ‘Legion,’ ‘Time After Time,’ ‘Making History’

We’re in the thick of midseason TV premieres. So it’s time to rejigger my TV watch list.
“Legion,” based on characters from Marvel’s X-Men comic-book series, premieres tonight on FX and looks good. “Legion” currently has a Metacritic score of 80 for generally favorable reviews.
Other shows I’m interested in checking out include two time-travel themed shows: “Making History” on Fox and “Time After Time” on ABC. Both premiere on March 5.
“Making History” is a comedy and the trailer looks pretty amusing. “Time After Time” is a thriller based on a very good 1979 movie.
Last fall, I gave two new shows a whirl: NBC time-travel adventure show “Timeless” and Fox horror show “The Exorcist.”
I enjoyed the low-rated “Exorcist,” which is the best sequel yet to the original 1973 classic. It was quite thrilling for a network TV show.
I lost interest in “Timeless,” which turned into a dull history lesson.
Of the current shows on my watch list, “Colony,” the USA Network’s alien invasion series, is my favorite. I’m also enjoying “The 100,” “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and the final season of “Adventure Time.”
I look forward to the return of new episodes of “The Walking Dead” (starting Sunday) and “iZombie” (April 4).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Taboola and Revcontent must hate ‘Family Matters’ actress Kellie Williams

A few days ago I reported on the potentially libelous clickbait Yahoo ran that portrayed actor Steve Zahn as a drug-crazed criminal.
That’s nothing compared to the treatment of actress Kellie Shanygne Williams, best known for co-starring on the ABC sitcom “Family Matters,” by content discovery platforms Taboola and Revcontent.
In two different sponsored articles, Williams has been implied to be HIV-positive, bankrupt and a drug-using prostitute.
Both articles feature photos of Williams side by side with a New York City prostitute named Takeesha. The clickbait article implies that the two photos are of the same person.
Williams is not identified by name and neither is Takeesha. I learned about Takeesha from a reverse image search. Takeesha was the subject of a photo essay by Chris Arnade on the underclass of a Bronx neighborhood called Hunts Point. (See article by the Daily Mail.)
The Taboola article is titled “27 celebs who’ve lost all their money & much more.” The Revcontent article is titled “19 stars who are battling HIV & you don’t know.”
Taboola and Revcontent must really hate Williams to imply that she’s diseased, penniless and a criminal.
Anything for clicks, I guess.

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