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Rats! Artist admits that popular viral videos are a sham

Late last year, Pizza Rat took the world by storm. A YouTube video featuring a rat carrying pizza in a New York subway got over 9 million views and was picked up by major media outlets.

Inevitably, the industrious rodent was also a hit on Twitter, which is the hotbed of flash-in-the-pan fame.

Are you sitting down? Good, because what if I told you that Pizza Rat was fake!

Is nothing sacred?

A performance artist going by the name Zardulu has given her first video interview, claiming authorship of some of the internet’s biggest viral hits.

Along with Pizza Rat, Zardulu claims to be behind such instant classics as ‘racoon riding an alligator’, ‘selfie rat’ and ‘three-eyed catfish’.

In order to carry out her stunts, Zardulu says she uses trained rats and taxidermied animals.

Yeah, but why?

Like Banksy, Zardulu prefers to remain anonymous. She wears a large robe, a turban and a bearded mask. She refers to her creations as “myths” and says they are “pearls of merriment for our world to enjoy”. It’s all spelled out in the philosophy behind her work, which is called Zardulism.

Ah, OK. So she does it for the Zardu-lulz. Well that makes sense.

Zardulu told The Washington Post that while she sometimes recruits actors to help out with her myths, she prefers it when people who aren’t involved capture the moment. For example, ‘racoon riding an alligator’ was captured by an innocent bystander, or what she (pretentiously) refers to as a “naïve collaborator”.

Zardulu can call this whatever she wants, but we’ve long had another word for it: hoax.

In 1917, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of Sherlock Holmes, believed that some English girls had taken photos of fairies. The camera was a new thing then, so the primitive effects used by the girls were able to fool the great author.

There are plenty of others out there, too: Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and alien autopsy.

Closer to home, Melbourne production studio The Woolshed unveiled themselves earlier this year as being behind some of the most shared viral videos on the internet, as part of a project called ‘The Viral Experiment’.

In short, Zardulu may be fooling people, but she isn’t doing anything new.

And as for the three-eyed catfish? Well, The Simpsons already did it.

These days it seems the idea of truth is up for grabs.

Fake news has been swamping Facebook and certain politicians seem to be lying more than ever.

Heck, even the Word of the Year was “post-truth”.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

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