Tough Talk About Catfish
October 15, 2013 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Linda Holmes, writer and editor of NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, has some thoughts about MTV's show, "Catfished."
posted by WalkerWestridge (86 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Metafilter's Own Linda Holmes, I think you mean.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:51 PM on October 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I didn't know that this show existed, but this is a great article that not only comprehensively explains what the show is about and how the episodes work, but has also helped me to hate it. Great stuff, thanks!
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:01 PM on October 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yo Linda, the answer to all these questions is "Because this junx is totally Jerry-Springer-level Fake."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:04 PM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Every time I read something by Linda Holmes -- even if it's just a Metafilter comment -- I find myself thinking "Oh right, THAT'S how I could articulate my opinion if I were better at articulating my opinion."

I don't mean that to be fan-girly. I just admire her critical skills. (And this one is spot-on.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2013 [34 favorites]


Goddammit this show. There are too many episodes about Innocent-Hot-Blonde-Boy who "falls in love with" (wants to bang) a girl who "isn't like other girls" (talks about how much she wants to suck his dick), only to find out that this "girl" is fat/ugly/a boy/whatever, and the reconciliation phase is so awkward, and dang, everyone just comes out looking shallow. What is everyone trawling the internet for hot people doing in the first place? What is this activity? I just don't understand it. Use the internet for photos/video of distant hot strangers, as it was intended.

Like part of me just doesn't get what would motivate someone (who most people would agree is attractive and would not have a problem finding a mate) to maintain an online relationship with someone for years without ever meeting them or confirming their identity. Don't they get like, super bored? Is talking to a hot stranger just that enticing? Like, this person is putatively hot, not a great conversationalist. What's the point? Idgi.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh my goddddd I've never heard of that show before now, but that concept is awful. How can anyone make that show (even if it's fiction, which it probably is) and be ok to sleep at night?

Ugh.
posted by kavasa at 6:08 PM on October 15, 2013


Potomac Avenue: "Yo Linda, the answer to all these questions is "Because this junx is totally Jerry-Springer-level Fake."

The Jerry Springer Show was fake? You lie!
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:13 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Haven't seen the show, but this is spot-on for that garbage movie.
posted by graphnerd at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2013


The Jerry Springer Show was fake? You lie!

Hits Joakim with a chair
posted by happyroach at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2013 [20 favorites]


Like part of me just doesn't get what would motivate someone (who most people would agree is attractive and would not have a problem finding a mate) to maintain an online relationship with someone for years without ever meeting them or confirming their identity.

I figure there must be some attractive people who are just too fearful/antisocial to actually go out and meet anyone. Otherwise, how do you explain Twitter comedians?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:16 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


That show is the most terrible show.
posted by elizardbits at 6:27 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


How can anyone make that show (even if it's fiction, which it probably is) and be ok to sleep at night?

Once you sell your soul to Satan, you can upgrade to the Platinum Premiere tier for extra benefits, one of which is never sleeping again. For all eternity.

Or so I hear.
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:28 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm so glad she called out the pretense of Max's camera. Not only is it a prop, it's a stupid one. Clearly, he's not filming the show, as he's implied to be doing. The guy is there as some sort of nebbishy sidekick with practically no purpose. Still, I'd take him over Nev any day of the week.
posted by yellowcandy at 6:28 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, sorry, I can only try to blame me not knowing Linda is on Meta Filter on my relative newishness to Meta Filter (not a very good excuse I'm afraid) . I apologize! Thanks Homeboy Trouble, for correcting me!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 6:29 PM on October 15, 2013


These questions irked me, and I felt they were worth responding to:

Here are the kinds of questions that are almost never asked:

Why were you so eager to believe that a person who had only what looked like modeling photos on her Facebook page was exactly who she said she was?


Blame the victim.

Why did you ignore every sign that this wasn't on the up and up, and do you think it's possible that you have an unrealistic set of expectations?

Blame the victim again.

If this person had told you the truth about who he really was, and had shown you a real photo, would you have given him the time of day? If not, does that provoke any remotely interesting thoughts in you about how you process first impressions?

Wow, it's almost like people looking for relationships on the internet care about physical appearance! You know, like the overwhelming majority of people looking for relationships in the real world!

Would you have told this girl that your affection for her was contingent on her appearance if she had asked you? If you would not, were you not leading her on as well?

That's an awesome question, and I advise everyone here to try it. It's not a useful question to determine if your significant other loves you unconditionally, but it's a fantastic way to discover if they'll lie to you to avoid a fight.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:30 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That show is the most terrible show.

It is indeed terrible, but it's not even in the top 5 worst shows on MTV. Maybe not even the top 20.

Which is to say: Yay!
posted by Sys Rq at 6:48 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is actually a totally unfair and reductive take on the show.
posted by grobstein at 6:49 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I figure there must be some attractive people who are just too fearful/antisocial to actually go out and meet anyone. Otherwise, how do you explain Twitter comedians?

But these guys always have plenty of bros and seem to get along with girls IRL! And hey, some of my best friends* are Twitter comedians!




*Twitter @friends
posted by stoneandstar at 6:52 PM on October 15, 2013


Oh, god, it's like the 90's never even happened. I TOTES THOUGHT YOU WERE A REAL 19y.o. 118LB BLOND GIRL/ASPIRING OLYMPIC SWIMMER DUDE WHO WAS INTO WHATEVER I WAS INTO WHILE I WAS DRUNK AND ON IM AT 4:00AM ON A TUESDAY. SRSLY. REAL TALK.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow, it's almost like people looking for relationships on the internet care about physical appearance! You know, like the overwhelming majority of people looking for relationships in the real world!

Of course most people care about physical appearance, but do they like go around only talking to people who look like models? Do they go online and just friend a bunch of random fake-looking Facebook profiles with hot profile pictures? Whyyy do they do that? They're playing the odds that a hot person with a completely fungible personality might have sex with them... which is fine, but not not shallow.

Also, maybe it seems wildly outlandish and false, but in my experience a lot of people care much less about appearance in an SO than the victims on Catfish, at least. If the show were about people who string other people along on the internet by saying they have a lot of money and a big house when really they have $3 and live in a public toilet, I think it'd be a pretty clear case of "who the fuck are these people, what is wrong with both of them." There are lots of superficial things that make people fall in love, that doesn't make them not superficial.

Against my will I actually felt pretty bad for the most recent Hot Blonde Guy who fell in love, only to find out he was living a lie... even after he said (while driving out to her house in the middle of a cornfield), "maybe she's like, a super hot farmer's daughter or something." Ah, true love.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want an AU where Hannibal is bored with Will in prison so he starts catfishing for meals and lulz.
posted by elizardbits at 7:02 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's my favorite story about this show:

Some friends of mine worked on the promos for this season - a little one day studio shoot, no reality stuff. All day, 'Max' was asking people to let him sit on the dolly with the (real) camera and take his picture. Apparently, he'd never gotten to sit on a dolly with a real camera.

Never forget, they refer to the people on reality shows as the 'cast.'
posted by rock swoon has no past at 7:05 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


From what I've seen, a fair, probably close to equal proportion of the episodes of this show are about a less attractive male catfish.

Also, there is nothing shameful or wrong with being sexually attracted or interested in a man or woman (or not attracted) based on their physical appearance. There is no moral or political dilemma there.

And in some episodes, the overweight catfish doesn't get flatly rejected
posted by knoyers at 7:07 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'm a terribly unattractive or irredeemably socially awkward person (well; some days), but I've ended up in a lot of online relationships because it's easier in my sexy-nerd-desert to find people who are intelligent, articulate and interesting on the internet than it is in person. At this point, I'm happy to see online and physical relationships as not necessarily overlapping things that fulfill separate needs.

...which, never having seen the original movie or the show but having some (possibly false?) impression of it, I take it is not really what goes on here. Which is one reason why the premise of the whole thing has always made me uncomfortable: it's framed in a "twist" way, where the audience is supposed to be shocked/enraged at the "deceptive" person after the Big Reveal.

And, uh, as a not-gender-conforming-American, I'm familiar with that attitude in a much more harmful context as well.
posted by byanyothername at 7:09 PM on October 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would love to see an episode where the person being investigated is even better than expected, then dumps all over the person who doubted them for bringing in the resources of a reality show to call them out.
posted by xingcat at 7:09 PM on October 15, 2013 [24 favorites]


Somehow, I assumed that Catfish was the same show as Hillbilly Handfishing, a show I have also never seen but which I did see a great many promos for last month.

I'm honestly not sure which show concept seems worse.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:14 PM on October 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


YES I too initially assumed it must be about noodling and was really fucking confused as to why it would be on MTV.
posted by elizardbits at 7:18 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thats called Hillbilly Handfishing and its 100000x better.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:19 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


And then Nev and Max do some sleuthing, which literally consists essentially of using Google and Facebook to poke around, much like you might if you undertook such a project yourself and had a fourth-grade knowledge of the internet.

For me, this is overwhelmingly the most annoying aspect. You've been talking to your honey for 6 years, but you can't be called upon to perform the most basic of Google searches? Really? More likely the person stumbled across a red flag/reveal and thought, Ooo, this qualifies me to be on that Catfish show!

The best question is the one they can't ask: If meeting the Beloved was so important, why did you want it mediated through the crassness and humiliation of reality television?
posted by aintthattheway at 7:22 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hillbilly Handfishing is just standing waist-deep in a muddy, leach ridden stream, and blindly jamming your arm into a mucky hole in the side of a river bank and moving your fingers around until a large catfish tries to eat them.

Catfish is way worse.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:22 PM on October 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


I acquired some Peru gold stripe corydoras a couple weeks ago and they're adorable... oh, not that kind of catfish.
posted by Foosnark at 7:26 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember the trailers for that Catfish movie but I never got around to watching it. I had thought it was a horror movie. They just found out she was fake on the internet? They didn't get kidnapped or hunted for sport or anything?
posted by RobotHero at 7:29 PM on October 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Background on the Catfish BS machine:

Does Sundance Sensation Catfish Have a Truth Problem?
posted by roger ackroyd at 7:30 PM on October 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


They didn't get kidnapped or hunted for sport

alas
posted by elizardbits at 7:30 PM on October 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


The moral is always the same: Lying is terrible, and liars are a menace

... Which I find hilarious, given the vast amounts of manipulation if not outright bullshit in the original Catfish film - which I fucking loathed. I have never and will never watch this show. I still hate it.
posted by smoke at 7:31 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be even awesomer if Catfish was about people who stick their hands in muddy awful riverbanks and expect to pull out Swedish models.
posted by xingcat at 7:33 PM on October 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


I've mostly been following the show through the Previously.tv recaps, and while in at least half the cases the person is substantially larger than they claim to be, many of the objections to the programme focus on this and not on, say, all the other lies that are part and parcel of deceiving the original subject. They rarely just lie about their appearance, but also their job and living situation as well.

And some of them are cases of people flat-out defrauding other people.

The original victims are usually horribly naive and need a remedial course in Googling (I agree that one of the most annoying things is that Nev and Max don't use any resources for research that the initial victim couldn't be using). But a little bit of shallowness and gullibility, to me, is not nearly so bad as the ones who are lying about themselves. Sure, I can understand why they do it, but I can understand why people commit all sorts of actual crimes as well, it doesn't mean I feel the need to rationalise the behaviour or prompt people to pleeease think of the guilty party's feelings before judging them.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:36 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


NO WAIT it would be even better if it was about people falling in love online with catfish pretending to be people.
posted by elizardbits at 7:36 PM on October 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


I blame the whole Manti T'eo fiasco and the ensuing media tsunami.

Incidentally, I sat next to an NFL scout on a plane before last year's draft. I asked about what non football matters the team considered when assembling its list. It turns out that his team's leadership cares deeply about the player's stability, mental health, friendships, family life, and other potential sources of distraction, drama, and financial stress. "Would you guys ever look at Manti T'eo this year?" I asked. "Never." he replied.
posted by carmicha at 7:38 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Three things she doesn't really address:

1) Apparently most of the overtures to MTV come from the catfish and not the catfishees. The situations are really often (and perhaps usually) about somebody trying to using the show for publicity. Last week's episode was a prime example, featuring a wannabe rapper masquerading as the former Lil' Bow Wow.

2) Many of the catfishees live in remote or relatively sparsely populated areas where their pool of potential romantic partners is low. In addition, many of them live in domestic situations they are desperate to get out of and therefore tend to view the catfish in the big city several states away as their escape route. It's both sad and funny when the catfish turns out to live in the next town over (if not the same town).

3) Some of the catfish have appeared to be straight-up sociopaths engaging in activities which include financial fraud and sexually enticing people who are legal minors. I imagine MTV's lawyers earn their paychecks before the episodes reach the air but it still looks shady that MTV is effectively promoting the behavior by whitewashing it for the show.

I don't see how the show can continue after this season because it's become clear that it is now not only instructing people how to catfish better, it's also inadvertently encouraging catfish by giving them a national stage. I know Jerry Springer's mess of a show is still on the air but he seems to have long given up most pretense that it isn't trash. Nev and Max still act like they're performing an honorable service.

I blame the whole Manti T'eo fiasco.

The show was going on long before that happened. If anything the publicity surrounding Manti T'eo's sordid situation just gave the TV show higher viewership.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:38 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, there is nothing shameful or wrong with being sexually attracted or interested in a man or woman (or not attracted) based on their physical appearance. There is no moral or political dilemma there.

Not shameful but redonkulous to be like "they fulfill a need I never knew I had, a deep longing for connection" when most of the screencaps are just like, them sexting with someone of whom they have two (usually staged, suspicious) photos. Idc if you want to sext with hot babes on the internet but it's not like this show is about anything more than "I'd rather search for hot Facebook girls/dudes and randomly chat them until one bites (the catfish!) than actually date someone, even though I too am hot." Which is so weird. I mean, a lot of these people posing as someone "better" clearly have self-esteem issues, so they're giving the victim something they wouldn't get from someone with better self-esteem, I assume. Like, a lot of sexual givingness, or just a lot of attention, a constantly listening ear, &c. The relationships come off as kind of sadly one-sided about 65% of the time. (I watch this show too much... ) Let's just say it is a show that is sad on many levels.

And I'm not one to knock people for dating someone hot, my boyfriend is very hot, I somehow came to peace with that moral dilemma long ago.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:45 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I think the show does, though, is bolster the Catfish film's credibility in that some people are still naive about people they talk to on the internet. Because the accusations that the film is all faked don't come from any proof or inside knowledge, just a belief that Nev and the filmmakers wouldn't act like that, wouldn't do their research, wouldn't take something on the internet at face value.

Personally, I believe that while they could have cottoned on to the reality of the situation much earlier than the film says, there's nothing that says they definitely did, or that how everyone in the film acted was outside the bounds of human behaviour.

But people hate to be duped. And the internet's an easy, easy place to alter the truth, or alternatively cry FAKE! to preempt any hint that you might be one of those rubes who, you know, believed things.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:47 PM on October 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god those fucking hillbilly shows, I used to keep seeing promos for that awful shite until I pulled the aerial cable from the wall. Swamp Gators. Marsh Ruckus. Yokel Crawdadding. Cookin' With Toby.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:50 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: make sure you use Google at least as well as a fourth-grader.
posted by spinturtle at 7:56 PM on October 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having seen most of the episodes, I have to disagree with this article. No, it's not a great show and maybe scripted and yes, people's lack of internet skills and suspension of disbelief are truly astounding, but I don't believe that the show casts everyone into victim/betrayer roles. One episode was about one girl getting revenge on another. Another couple of episodes were (unknowingly to one party) same-sex relationships. Yet another was a girl trying to help her friend's esteem, and in one or two the 'victim' starts off by admitting to being the catfish themselves.

From my recollection, Max and Nev often try to discuss how the relationship and feelings still really existed despite the lies, and I think they show a fair amount of compassion to the 'betrayers'. I've haven't seen this 'open-and-shut' position that she claims they hold except in a couple of episodes where the betrayer really was just a jerk. As for the betrayers repenting/apologizing (which doesn't always happen), why shouldn't they?
posted by ghost dance beat at 8:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't watch this show and I can't speak to the truthfulness of the 2010 documentary, Catfish, except to say the woman who engaged in the online deception, Angela Wesselman-Pierce, was a compelling example of someone who uses the internet for escapist fantasy. The film is disturbing and unforgettable because of her and her family.
posted by maggieb at 8:03 PM on October 15, 2013


A suprisingly substantive critique of the show from Hollywood.com including the following:

In fact, after speaking with six of the stars of this season (covering six episodes of the series), we found that in every instance except one, the catfisher — not the catfishee, as the series claims — has been the one to contact MTV first. Either via a casting call, Craigslist post, or a mention on the MTV website itself, the catfisher has consistently been the one to initiate the process
posted by smoke at 8:07 PM on October 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


I can't speak to the truthfulness of the 2010 documentary, Catfish, except to say the woman who engaged in the online deception, Angela Wesselman-Pierce, was a compelling example of someone who uses the internet for escapist fantasy.

She has also been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The film was an exploitative, manipulative, self-obsess piece of work, and from what I've read about the show, it seems even faker - if such a thing were possible.
posted by smoke at 8:09 PM on October 15, 2013


I haven't seen the Catfish film, but I've seen the show more than a handful of times and I have to say that these two questions, at least, get asked a lot:

Why were you so eager to believe that a person who had only what looked like modeling photos on her Facebook page was exactly who she said she was?

Why did you ignore every sign that this wasn't on the up and up, and do you think it's possible that you have an unrealistic set of expectations?


I think almost every episode I've seen involved the hosts pointing out some of the very obvious flaws in every Catfish's story to the person who contacted them. It's just that there aren't ever any satisfying answers.
posted by juliplease at 8:20 PM on October 15, 2013


So she says in the first article I linked. "I have been diagnosed as schizophrenic," she said. "But ... I don't think I have multiple personalities in normal life, really. I just think I have the ability to create a lot of illusions for people."
posted by maggieb at 8:50 PM on October 15, 2013


You guys are real mad at a tv show. I saw someone above mention Jerry Springer, you should probably take this show about as seriously and hence why is this even a FPP. It's "reality" TV.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:57 PM on October 15, 2013


However, Jerry Springer's "Baggage" is a national treasure. It's on the gameshow network constantly. I recommend alcohol, friends and a healthy bit of gambling.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:00 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Salon contributor penned a take on the Catfish TV show a couple of months ago. Bottom line, it's society's fault.
posted by fuse theorem at 9:28 PM on October 15, 2013


I saw the movie, and after having processed it for a day or two I came to the conclusion that it is extremely unlikely that the events transpired as it was portrayed. The guy, Nev, and his friends just happen to start a documentary about Nev's online love life at the same time that he begins a romance with a girl who isn't all she says she is. Uh huh.

What happened is the guys found this profile, discovered it was fake, and then tracked down the real woman behind it--probably by driving all the way out to that small town and discovering her there. Then they decided to start their documentary, fully aware of their target of ridicule. At the end when they interview the woman, Nev seems sincere and appropriately awkward, but there's just this whole overarching condescension towards the woman that's all just so cringe-inducing.

Apparently the woman was angry about how she was portrayed in the finished film. As for the filmmakers, they deny events happened in any other order than what's on film. One of them said something like "Well if it were fake, then that means Nev is the best actor in the world! Someone get him an Oscar!" A rather lame deflection, that.
posted by zardoz at 9:30 PM on October 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I have been diagnosed as schizophrenic," she said. "But ... I don't think I have multiple personalities in normal life, really. I just think I have the ability to create a lot of illusions for people."

Am I reading this wrong or is she equating schizophrenia with multiple personalities?
posted by Hoopo at 9:36 PM on October 15, 2013


It sure sounds like it, which makes me think she was diagnosed by yahoo answers or something.
posted by elizardbits at 9:44 PM on October 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


People, there's way, way, way too much good television out there to torrent before you ever have to watch this kind of thing.
posted by ryanrs at 10:03 PM on October 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, man. I found the grotesque artifice of the original Catfish film really fascinating—as zardoz points out, it seemed very obvious to me that the dudes were pretending to solve a mystery they already knew the answer to. There's one scene in particular towards the end of the documentary, when Nev asks Angela (a real life, middle-aged, pleasantly ordinary-looking, troubled and possibly mentally ill person) to talk to him, face to face, in the voice of the fictional (nubile, model-beautiful) woman she's been pretending to be, and he (it seems to me) creates a series of facial expressions for the camera that are meant to convey a complex storm of emotion. If there was any question whether the film constitutes exploitation, that moment settles it.

So I watched the first series of the TV show, and what's interesting is that it's a very similar flavour of bullshit in a more formulaic container. Again, in each episode it is very clear that they know the answer to the mysteries ahead of time, and pantomime a process of discovery for the audience. It doesn't surprise me to learn that the catfishers tend to be the ones who approach the show's producers (rather than the catfished) because when you meet them at the show's reveal, they are extraordinarily relaxed for people who've just been caught red-handed committing romantic fraud; they also appear immediately at ease in the company of Nev and Max.

Additionally, I have wondered if the producers do, in fact, introduce the cafisher and catfished to each other before filming the reveal—or at least tell the catfished enough information to mitigate the emotional impact of the shock. Perhaps not; however, I did find it interesting that the very first episode of the first season concluded with a fairly aggressive confrontation (the woman who's been catfished gets very angry at the introverted lesbian who's been pretending to be a man during their 'relationship', and gets quite shouty), but after that, the confrontations in subsequent episodes seemed more 'pre-managed'. After that first episode, there seemed to be a stronger focus on a more therapeutic 'forgiveness and understanding' narrative (i.e. encouraging the catfished to have empathy for the personal circumstances and motives of the catfisher) even when the deceit was substantial. It seemed as though the Jerry Springer-style ferocity of the first episode took them by surprise and they decided thereafter to create a more redemptive narrative arc for the show that also allowed Nev and Max to come out the end a lot cleaner.

Of course, this is all conjecture.

Perhaps it's best that I just leave you with this helpful collage I made of Nev Schulman googling things and Max Joseph filming Nev Schulman googling things with a ridiculous point and shoot camera. I feel it captures the raw, thrilling drama of the show.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:32 PM on October 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Huh; it seems I could have saved myself a whole bunch of theorising if I'd just bothered to read smoke's link up above.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:46 PM on October 15, 2013


gadge emeritus' 'fraud' one honestly, to me, rang a lot of bells of someone who is legitimately queer but coping very badly with it and hurting other people in the process--exactly the sort of reason that a lot of lesbians won't date people who aren't at least a bit out already. If you're not ready to be out of the closet, what are you going to do if some TV people start contacting your friends/family who don't already know? Are you going to come out at that point, or are you going to make up some stupid story about lying about all of it for ages just to get a free phone? I dunno. Even if she is a pretty rotten person for doing it, that kind of cemented my thinking that the producers are pretty rotten people to start with.

Until you are 100% sure that the person is a fraud and only a fraud, why would you out someone you knew to be in the closet, to friends and family who are probably not approving? Ew, ew, ew. I suppose it's just one more thing to add to the laundry list of problems with the show, but that makes me seriously wonder which side of the camera the sociopaths are on.
posted by Sequence at 10:49 PM on October 15, 2013


I don't suppose anyone is ready for a 500 comment meta on the term "hillbilly," but is it necessary to say that using it to refer derogatorily to rural, working-class people is a slur?
posted by spitbull at 2:07 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the same vein as spitbull's comment, it's not necessarily MeTa-worthy, but I also thought we were going to try and not diagnose people over the internet, especially as sociopaths.

At the very least, maybe take more than a secondhand account of an episode of television which shows nothing of the kind before accusing the people who made it of sociopathy.
posted by gadge emeritus at 2:59 AM on October 16, 2013


happyroach: "The Jerry Springer Show was fake? You lie!

Hits Joakim with a chair
"

Refuses to intervene until a female pulls her shirt up.
posted by Samizdata at 3:14 AM on October 16, 2013


In fact, after speaking with six of the stars of this season (covering six episodes of the series), we found that in every instance except one, the catfisher — not the catfishee, as the series claims — has been the one to contact MTV first.

Wait, that seems odd. How does that happen? "Hello, MTV? Yeah, about your show Catfish. I've been talking with this guy online, but he doesn't really know anything about me. Like, I'm totally not what he's expecting, LOL. Would you like to talk to him and arrange to have him meet me and find out I'm not what I've been representing myself as being?"
posted by JHarris at 3:18 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've assiduously avoided this show, based on the bits I've accidentally seen when tuning-in a minute or so too early for Girl Code.
Is that weird?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:25 AM on October 16, 2013


So, if I understand how this show works, I can get a free trip to visit a friend if I can get them to pretend to be a Swedish model?



Maybe Catfish is getting catfished by people pretending to be something they aren't.

Wonder how far of a trip they'll take their "victim" on.

Maybe we can have a metarealityshow. Fiji anyone?
posted by yohko at 3:33 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


yohko: "So, if I understand how this show works, I can get a free trip to visit a friend if I can get them to pretend to be a Swedish model?



Maybe Catfish is getting catfished by people pretending to be something they aren't.

Wonder how far of a trip they'll take their "victim" on.

Maybe we can have a metarealityshow. Fiji anyone?
"

I'm in, but only if you want a hot, blonde bikini/lingerie model who is also a particle physicist, rock star, and neurosurgeon.

You provide the tickets, right? And accommodations and food?
posted by Samizdata at 3:52 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember the trailers for that Catfish movie but I never got around to watching it. I had thought it was a horror movie. They just found out she was fake on the internet?

When i first heard about the movie, and everything was so vague, it did sound to me like a horror movie. I was totally expecting a hills have eyes type of thing, and was confused why it was getting such press when it was just "she's different than she suggested".

There is a lot of talking down to and hate in this thread by people who seem to never have watched the show, and i find that just as annoying as people who try to ban books that also have never read them. Yeah, it's a pretty crap show, but if it gets any of the viewers to think before they go into something like this, it's not all bad.

Blame the victim.

So sick of this being used. At some point, people need to take responsibility for their actions. This isn't a case of being raped, assaulted, or other sudden event, it's more like giving your money to Nigerian scammers over and over and over again. Some times you have to call people on their shit and hope they get help.
posted by usagizero at 4:02 AM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apologies: I used the 'sociopath' bit there because it's the way the linked article refers to the girl, and obviously I don't think it's accurate, thus drawing the comparison. I don't actually think the people making the show are mentally ill, either, but I think there's more wrong with them than with the subjects, and the point I was trying to make was that depicting even the so-called catfishers as outrageously messed up is Seriously Problematic.
posted by Sequence at 4:18 AM on October 16, 2013


I would love to see an episode where the person being investigated is even better than expected, then dumps all over the person who doubted them for bringing in the resources of a reality show to call them out.

There actually is an episode where the guy (the fisher, I suppose) turns out to be as good or better than girl's ideal of him. He was reluctant to meet before because he wanted to get his career and financial situation straightened out before he met the girl - who has a young son. I was actually kind of blown away by this episode, cause I was sure it was like 95% of the other episodes where the fisher is stupidly and obviously not who they say they are.

I think the show is mostly bad, but does have some interesting moments. I actually liked the movie.
posted by ill3 at 6:14 AM on October 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking of Jerry Springer, in 2006 I went to a taping of a show, and the episode theme was "Honey, I'm Really a Man" or something like that. While there were some minor attempts at fisticuffs, most of the reactions were "Huh. I'm really upset that you lied to me about this, but I do still care about you. I'll have to think about this some." I'm pretty sure that episode never aired.

Also, you can buy the Jerry Springer beads after the taping. You don't actually have to flash anyone.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:19 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a huge difference -- at least there is to me -- between "you should blame this person," and "you would have a much more interesting show if you asked this person more and different questions."

As I said in the piece, none of it is any excuse for lying. And there's nothing wrong with caring about physical appearance -- you're absolutely right that everybody cares. Absolutely right. But these people rarely will come out and admit, "My interest in this person hinges on her Facebook photos being accurate, so that's what I want you to find out." They want to say, "I'm in love with the person he is, I trusted him, we connected." And when they meet and they're disappointed, they are very rarely willing to say, "I'm just not attracted to you." Which is honest, and fair. They say, "Well, it's because you betrayed me. It's because you took advantage of me." In a way, I'm agreeing with you that it would be more interesting if they would admit that yes, physical appearance is a big part of why they were into the person, instead of pretending it's not.

It's not about blaming the victim; it's about my sense that there is curious human behavior on both sides, and when I see curious human behavior, I become curious about it, and I think the show would be more interesting if they asked about it. As I said, what the show has an interesting opportunity (I think) to talk about is that everybody in a situation like this is acting out of a whole cocktail of feelings and fallibility. It's a relationship, and it has two people in it, and I don't think it's victim-blaming to be interested in both sides of the weird behavior involved.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 6:19 AM on October 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Bottom line, it's society's fault.
BULLSHIT
YOU'RE JUST A SUBURBAN PUNK LIKE ME
posted by pxe2000 at 6:26 AM on October 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anyone who watches any of the shows mentioned thus far in this thread should Feel Bad about themselves, and maybe spend a few years in one of my antarctic labor camps as penance.

...our entry doors are always open. The exit ones, well, not so much.
posted by aramaic at 6:33 AM on October 16, 2013


Linda you're great in general but seriously, this show is as fake as it gets. It's just people pretending to be catfished in order to get on TV, with the help of faux-naïve producers. Taking it seriously is a waste of your extremely valuable critical skills.

You should be writing about Iyanla Fix My Life instead that shit is CRYSTAL.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:35 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, that seems odd. How does that happen? "Hello, MTV? Yeah, about your show Catfish. I've been talking with this guy online, but he doesn't really know anything about me. Like, I'm totally not what he's expecting, LOL. Would you like to talk to him and arrange to have him meet me and find out I'm not what I've been representing myself as being?"

I think it happens pretty much like that. I was recently contacted by the producer of a talk show I'd never heard of, inviting me to appear on the show to talk about my son who is gender non-conforming. I wasn't going to go on a talk show in any case, but out of curiosity I went to the show's website, which had a big banner that said, "Do you want to be on the show?" with a bullet list:

Are you cheating on your spouse and feel it's time to confess?

Are you unsure of who is the father of your baby?

And so on. "Are you having an on-line relationship with someone who thinks you're richer, younger, thinner, and better-looking than you really are?" would fit right in there. And I think the key questions is, "Do you want to be on the show?" Which, oddly, a lot of people answer, "yes" to.
posted by not that girl at 7:13 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing the "I avoided that movie because I thought it was going to be an actual horror movie".

One of the things that I find bizarre about the premise is that the people, particularly the women fishers who are leading on male fishees, seem to be opening themselves up to all kinds of internet abuse and so on and so forth. Not having seen the show, but hearing about all the googling and stuff, I'm wondering: do they show that on screen? How hard would it be to find someone who had fished a person from what they show on the program? What do the friends and neighbors of these people think about them having been on TV and admitted they were fishing/fished?

It wouldn't occur to me to be on a show like this because of the possible consequences. (Not that I'd deliberately fish anyway. I'm reluctant to talk about weirdnesses in my own life with my e-friends as it is. I don't want to be That Person.)
posted by immlass at 8:03 AM on October 16, 2013


I watch this show occasionally and one reason why I like it is that when I have seen it has been about working class/poor people of average/below average intelligence and average/below average appearance, and it treats those people with humanity. That's not a demographic that gets a lot of airtime on television. Most of the rest of it is "upper middle class suburban family" or "hot young people in New York" or "hot genius medical examiner" or "cops vs. criminals".

I think the difference between this show and Jerry Springer is vast. I even like the point-and-shoot doofus. That's what we all look like when we're going around documenting every second of our lives, he is who we're meant to identify with. Yes, I am aware that reality shows are fake. I think it's a pretty well-crafted show. Linda is criticizing the show not because it's awful and she's shooting fish in a barrel, but because it's ok and it's disappointing that it isn't better.
posted by Kwine at 8:21 AM on October 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


A woman I work with, who is attractive, told me that she has had men approach her on the street, thinking she is someone else. Turns out that all of her photos were swiped from her Facebook profile and people have been using them to create "catfish" profiles.

I had never heard of "Catfishing" before she told me about it. Anyhow she's an IT contractor for the Federal Government and has children, but the catfish profile says has changed this to make her a model with neices and nephews.

Bizzare and really, really creepy.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:34 AM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


posted by Linda_Holmes

Oh, hey!
posted by JHarris at 9:26 AM on October 16, 2013


I think it says something about us as a species that we're so easily lead down the garden path. Before the internet it was LDRs with hot phone calls and reasons that the two people couldn't get together. Or hell, even The Shop Around the Corner, probed this cunundrum in 1940, (based on a 1937 play) and was remade as You've Got Mail nearly sixty years later.

We WANT to believe that the person who IMs us, or talks to us on the phone, or sends us romantic letters is exactly who we've built them up to be in our imagination. Of COURSE we're deeply in love, about 80% of the relationship is our imbuing the Catfish with our hopes, dreams and desires. It's almost like it's not their fault.

Think about how many people you know are in love with someone who is a complete figment of their imagination. "Isn't he dreamy?" your best friend will breathe, and you'll look at the pudgy guy with the comb-over and halitosis, and wonder what it is she sees in him. Every pot has its lid I suppose.

My own relationship started out on-line, and Husbunny was pretending to be someone else (long, hilarious story.) But I DO have the google skills of a fourth-grader, so soon after all was revealed. We met in real life, went out for a year and then we married. We've been married for eleven years.

So it's not all that weird even. You just have to keep your damn eyes open and keep reminding yourself, "Look at the guy in front of you, that one there. With the ink stain on his shirt."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:00 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Think about how many people you know are in love with someone who is a complete figment of their imagination.

Not to mention how many people live as figments of their own imagination.
posted by bleep-blop at 3:08 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]




One of the executive producers defended the show on a slate podcast. It's a hard to square her introspection with the show as it is.

Oh wait, it's not. She's making a reality show.
posted by stratastar at 11:00 PM on October 16, 2013


Max is Scully to Nev's Mulder.
That's his entire purpose on the show.
posted by goshling at 4:27 AM on October 19, 2013


I have not seen this show, but from the way it is described in the article and this thread, it sounds like Nice Guy Jamboree.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:06 PM on October 19, 2013


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