Last week, a video entitled “Worst Twerk Fail EVER — Girl Catches On Fire!” popped up pretty much everywhere, lifting the nation’s spirits at a time when it was running out of possible angles to discuss Miley Cyrus, and would soon be forced to contemplate the void. It racked up more than 9 million views, it received coverage across scores of news broadcasts, and it briefly invigorated the world—and of course, it was fake, like all the things you enjoy on the Internet.
Jimmy Kimmel revealed last night that he and his show were behind the whole thing, playing the “full director’s cut” of the 37-second clip, in which a woman named “Caitlin Heller” attempts to make a “sexy twerking video” (a concept that is also false), only to have her roommate conveniently, gently open the door she’s gyrating against and topple her onto a table littered with lit candles, whereupon she immediately catches on fire. In the “director’s cut,” Kimmel enters the room and douses “Heller” with a fire extinguisher. As she confessed on the show, “Caitlin Heller” is actually Daphne Avalon, a professional stuntwoman, and therefore it was totally fine that you laughed at her burning.
“To the conspiracy theorists on the internet who thought we made it up—you were right, it was fake,” Kimmel said, noting that it didn’t stop hundreds of outlets from reporting on it, including the dozens of examples he then showed in a supercut. That Kimmel and his team engineered this sort of reaction, all by merely posting the video to YouTube without any promotion, is a testament to the power of “viral” circulation, the “twerking” zeitgeist, and man’s endless capacity for enjoying the painful humiliation of others. Kimmel said he also hoped it would put an end to the “twerking” phenomenon forever—though it’s equally likely to replace it with videos where “twerkers” put themselves in increased danger for this kind of attention, until “Ultimate Twerk Fail — Girl Twerks Onto Crowded Freeway” finally makes the rounds.
In related news, “Lil Bub” is really Oscar-nominated actress Debra Winger in a motion-capture suit, and everyone in those “Harlem Shake” videos is just pretending to enjoy themselves, but they’re secretly dead inside.