Last summer, we signal-boosted an in-the-works documentary about the time that Johnny Carson inadvertently caused caused a toilet paper shortage. “You can laugh now,” Johnny Carson said on a 1973 edition of The Tonight Show, “but there is an acute shortage of toilet paper.” There wasn’t one when he said it, but there was one after he did.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, it’s finally finished, just as we’re undergoing yet another two-ply crisis. As fishy as that might seem, the 10-minute short serves as a smart, sneaky way to investigate just how fast misinformation can travel, as well as how it can serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“I never thought this film would have the kind of relevance it currently holds,” filmmaker Brian Gersten told The Atlantic. “It’s truly astonishing and shocking. A toilet-paper panic sounds absolutely ludicrous, but here we all are, once again, panicking about not having enough toilet paper.”
He added, “We live in an age of misinformation, and it’s important to recognize that, especially when we’re in the midst of a crisis. When you look at what happened in 1973 versus what’s happening now, it’s clear that the way we consume media has evolved over time, but the way we react to certain kinds of information has remained pretty consistent.”
That said, stop hoarding. We have no squares to spare.
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