Fake it so you can make it
November 14, 2015 6:28 PM   Subscribe

When trying to help out a moving company owner whose largest labor cost is his employees, Fielder fashions an older workout buff as a lifestyle guru who preaches that moving boxes and furniture will help you stay fit. Fielder hired a random Craigslister to ghostwrite his guru’s life story, and the book is now an Amazon bestseller, ballooned by fake five-star reviews. You can find it featured in the top 10 list for books in the Motivational and Self-Help categories.
The admiration I'm feeling right now is not even grudging.
posted by postcommunism at 7:27 PM on November 14, 2015 [6 favorites]

Someone get some lotion for The Verge. I think their hands are getting chapped from all that wringing.

But seriously, dark humour is dark. The end times. Etc.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:30 PM on November 14, 2015

The interview is a funny bit. I have seen seasons one and two of Nathan For You. It's occasionally freaking brilliant, but can be so mean spirited sometimes it's hard for me to watch. Still, glad to hear there's a third season.
posted by skewed at 7:57 PM on November 14, 2015

i think calling it 'nihilism' assumes that consumption and relationships with brands have meaning to begin with
posted by p3on at 8:00 PM on November 14, 2015 [7 favorites]

It’s no coincidence that his first brush with internet fame on Nathan For You was a fake viral video. The clip featured a pig saving a goat in a ploy to help a petting zoo by giving it a "hero animal" for foreigners to come visit. In reality, Fielder hired dozens of people to pull the video off, creating a PVC track for the pig to swim through with scuba divers nearby to assist. He uploaded it to YouTube under a fake name with a deadpan, one-sentence description. It appeared on the NBC Nightly News and caught the attention of Anderson Cooper.

Not everyone was fooled.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:01 PM on November 14, 2015 [13 favorites]

My friend purchased a copy of The Movement. It is ludicrously fake - like, I can't imagine a person reading even a little of this without realizing something's up.

So, of course, it makes perfect sense that nobody in the local news shows that had the guy on had any idea. Death of journalism and all.
posted by kafziel at 8:05 PM on November 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you forgive the self-link, oddly enough, a piece I just wrote about Nathan For You went live.

(TL,DR: Nathan For You Is The Best For Reals)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 8:58 PM on November 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

So, of course, it makes perfect sense that nobody in the local news shows that had the guy on had any idea. Death of journalism and all.

Wait, wasn't this on the local morning shows? Local morning shows don't have the high standards of journalism that local 6 o'clock news shows have. It's insulting to the journalists at the nightly news shows to compare them to their morning show counterparts.
posted by el io at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2015

(also that Verge article is kind of hilarious how it seems to think that fans of a show buying merch of the show is a sign of the apocalypse.)
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:46 PM on November 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just think it's awesome that someone has combined the character conviction of Andy Kaufman with the inappropriatenes of the externalizations of Larry David and somehow put that in a wrapper of economics. Seriously, it is one of the most fun cringeworthy half hours. You don't know exactly what's coming, but every episode you know what's coming - you just don't know how uncomfortable everyone gets to be. So many times I've said 'surely this is too far and will get the show canceled.' Yet it is still on...
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:44 AM on November 15, 2015

As it happens, I own a copy of Jack Garbarino's The Movement, as ghostwritten by Austin Bowers, so it is my privilege to get to share with you my current favorite excerpt. All highlights my own.
Dende has joined the guards when his schooling was deemed over. He was better with a pistol than I was, and had much better survival instincts. I figured that he’d out last all of us, even the students younger than him. I heard the deafening ring that erased all my expectations of his life the same time the entire camp did. We knew instantly what was going down in the brush.


The firing had ended quickly. After the initial panic I felt about the sounds faded away, I was pleased to learn that only about twenty seconds were occupied by the harrowing battle noises. And I thought that was the end of it. It wasn’t.

The guards came running into the village with several bodies, each one was drenched with blood from a deadly, fatal gunshot wound. I didn’t know three of the boys who’s been shot, but the fourth’s cobalt blue eyes were trembling, as if urging him to stay alive. Survive a little longer and then you’ll be taken care of by the doctors already on scene. That’s the look I saw in Dende’s eyes as he was dying.

I kneeled down at his die and gripped his hand. His grip was about as tight, which meant there was still life in him. He could make it. He would make it. He was a 19 year-old, full of life, packed with muscle and intelligence, wits, and a few good other virtuous traits that I adored about him. The doctors tried desperately to staunch the blood flow from the small, but seemingly gaping wide hole in his chest cavity. I was close to vomiting, but I would’ve hated myself if any bile had splashed him right now, so I choked it down.

I couldn’t believe my eyes right now, even though I had on my glasses. We had just had breakfast this morning, joking about the routine of their sweeps, and how it was always peaceful. The baboons cell had all but vanished. In all my time here, they had never once actually bothered us. I don’t know what had changed now, or for whatever reason, but it was not fair to this young man. He had a life to look forward to, a brilliant life. One where he didn’t need to face the threat of baboons, or be done in by them.

All it was ever meant to be was a routine sweep of the camp’s exterior. That’s all. A simple trek through the beautiful scenery the brush provided us those late night we would stare into the starry sky. The brush’s midnight glow was something the two of us would keep for ourselves, and it was now just mine. In the blink of an eye, the baboons had raised their venomous tails and struck at Dende’s heart. He was gasping for air now, but he turned to me, trying so very hard to pass on a message. I leaned in close to ease his attempt efforts.

“One...true,” he gurgled but then regained his breath, “prescription.” Those were his final three words. His death was slow, painful, and agonizing to watch, but that was Dende for you. Pushing through until he could solve problems. I’m not sure which one he was referring to now, but he had solved something, and I was going to find out what, but for now, we had four teenage boys dead at our feet, protecting us from a threat we now knew was very real.
"His death was slow, painful, and agonizing to watch, but that was Dende for you" would make a great first line to a novel, in my personal opinion.

Between Bowers and the fake Bill Gates impersonator, Nathan seems to have the same talent for finding remarkably off-beat individuals that Tim and Eric, who produce his show, seem to. Abso Lutely Productions is a gift to television. (Their other show, Review starring Andy Dale, is another pretty brilliant enterprise, but Nathan For You competes with Steven Universe for Best Show On Television in my heart.)
posted by rorgy at 5:45 AM on November 15, 2015 [8 favorites]

I'm not crazy about this show, but I loved him in Jon Benjamin Has A Van.

On preview, that was another great show from Abso Lutely Prods, so I will revisit this show with a more open mind.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:49 AM on November 15, 2015

i think calling it 'nihilism' assumes that consumption and relationships with brands have meaning to begin with

My early new year's resolution is to not write about media on MetaFilter, but I think that this is the key to what makes this show so unexpectedly brilliant (and what's hard to explain to people who've never seen it before). If there's something nihilist here, it's consumerism itself, or media culture, or the nonsense notions of romance which Nathan throws himself at again and again. Nathan embodies these systems, playing by their rules but entirely ignoring the values that they claim to champion, and in doing so manages to get people who think they're on a show about business and money to reveal themselves as beautiful, remarkably unusual, individuals.

People reveal sides to themselves that most shows would either discard as irrelevant, or else actively encourage mockery of (a la William Hung as early as a decade ago). On Nathan For You, those traits are heralded as the things which most reveal our humanity. In that context, Nathan's "business savvy", his need to be seen as cool and contemporary, and his quietly desperate hunt for love are revealed to be, not the fundamental qualities which we're inculcated to think of as universal forces, but simply a set of quirks and pathologies like anybody else's. The only thing making his worldview seem any less delightfully trivial than anybody else's is that he's the guy with the cameras and the editing and the neverending monologues. There's a message in that somewhere.
posted by rorgy at 5:57 AM on November 15, 2015 [10 favorites]

I think the most amazing thing about The Movement was the experience of watching the workout buff man lie, on video, over and over and over again about how he had never been to a gym in his life. Never even went inside a gym to look around. Sometimes I see daytime news segments when I'm waiting for my car at the repair shop or something, and it was just bizarre to see what looks like a completely normal segment that you know is a weird manufactured lie.

And the one about the sports good store was so insanely bizarre and good, every single subplot. My favorite part was the astronaut impersonator, although I'm hoping it didn't cause irreparable damage to that small boy.
posted by permiechickie at 9:28 AM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Not everyone was fooled.

Sys Rq, I think 111 people owe you an apology.
posted by sidereal at 10:47 AM on November 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nah, it's cool. As much as I would totally love to be all, "APOLOGISE FOR YOUR GULLIBILITY, YE LESSER BEINGS," I get that sometimes people don't like having their wonder squished by jerks.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:00 PM on November 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

being the jerk is a blessing and a curse.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:54 PM on November 15, 2015

But you weren't being a jerk, at all. I was referring to the 110 people who favorited this nasty snark (that didn't get deleted for breaking rule #1 for some reason - meh)

posted by sidereal at 4:14 AM on November 16, 2015

that didn't get deleted for breaking rule #1 for some reason - meh

MetaFilter skews, along with a good chunk of the internet, anti-snark but pro-smarm.

Reading that essay helped me understand approximately 99% of why things on the Internet that bother me do so. It's still probably one of the most important things I've read in the last bunch of years. That instant with Sys Rq actually demonstrates why "snark", so to speak, is as important as it is: a lot of anti-"cynicism" advocates are really anti-"skepticism", and the backlash against tends to allow the Nathanesque shysters we don't like to get away with some nasty stuff.
posted by rorgy at 4:28 AM on November 16, 2015 [9 favorites]

I'm glad to hear that there's another comedian out there who's picking up where Sacha Baron Cohen left off, and focusing on business rather than culture.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:24 AM on November 16, 2015

I don't think Baron Cohen so much as Tom Green, just without the expressiveness.
posted by psoas at 11:38 AM on November 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Given, the interview is obviously a bit, and Seth Rogen has known Fielder since they went to high school together, but the awkward energy is still potent."


"He also asked the three how much money they earned for making the movie, then calling out Gordon-Levitt and Rogen as not wanting to answer the question because they know they made more than Mackie… especially since Rogen is the executive producer and he knows how much everybody makes."

Hooooooooly shit. HAHAHAHA. I've never heard of Fielder, and not even about this movie but wow. Now I know of Fielder, so thank you!
posted by one teak forest at 5:22 AM on December 9, 2015

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