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Chaplin: - and reading critically

Posted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:23 pm
by Marilyn Slater
“10 HISTORIAL FIGUTRS “RUMORED” TO HAVE TOTALLY INSANE QUIRKS” by Trisha Leigh Zeigenhorst did a piece for a silly entertaining blog intended for the humor, which is a mixture of fact and fiction, As I keep saying readers have the responsibility to understand what they read. Not many people read the AOL articles anymore but my friend; William Drew did read the Trisha Leigh Zeigenhorst piece,

Perhaps because the writer used a source named “Kevin Brownwing” who wrote the 2002 article; "The Golden Grope: A History of Hollywood Harassment." Drew was worried that someone down the road may confuse Brownwing with the well-respected Kevin Brownlow. Read critically! . ... -quirks/2/" target="_blank.

Some of the images used to decorate the blog were of Chaplin, so Drew’s reaction on Facebook is as follows:
With Chaplin's photo highlighting the two-part piece, it cites rumors of Chaplin using gross casting couch methods that. if true, made him a "harasser, molester and rapist." I was astonished to see film historian Kevin Brownlow given as the main source for these allegations. Since it seemed totally out of character for Brownlow to indulge in such salacious sensationalism, I then went to the linked article at:" target="_blank Dating from December 1, 2002, the article called "Hollywood Sex Pests" relates in detail these allegations and similar ones about other stars. The information is attributed to "leading film historian Kevin Brownwing," author of "The Golden Grope: A History of Hollywood Harassment." Wait a minute! Kevin Brownwing?! I then realized this particular article is a wild parody of things like "Hollywood Babylon." Indeed, the site on which it appeared is "The Sleaze," a British website devoted to political satire, news parody and surreal humor.
After discovering that the original source for the AOL article's allegations was actually a 15-year-old British parody, I then returned to Ms. Zeigenhorst's new piece and saw that it had attributed these claims to Kevin Brownwing, not Kevin Brownlow. However, as a rather fast reader which I sometimes have to be to absorb as much information as I do, I had immediately and perhaps logically read the name at first glance as "Kevin Brownlow." And with no indication in Ms. Zeigenhorst's piece that her source was a parody, those readers who do notice the discrepancy in names may assume it was a simple typo or misspelling and that Kevin Brownlow was indeed the source for this.
When I checked the links to the allegations about other historical figures in this piece, I found that ONLY the Chaplin part derives from a parody or satire. Most of the others are based on more reputable or scholarly sources. For all its sensational tone, Tricia Leigh Zeigenhorst's article was clearly not a parody but was meant to be taken seriously. She evidently mistook the humorous 2002 article in "The Sleaze" as a legitimate piece about scandalous activities in old Hollywood, never realizing that it was a deliberate attempt at satire.
I feel Ms. Zeigenhorst's fallacious article should be exposed before it begins to gain any credence. I suspect others might make the same mistake I did without, however, bothering to check her original source. Given the capacity for error and repeated myths, I think it likely that there will be those who may pick up on a 15-year-old parody which has now been passed off as possibly true. At some point, the name of the historian making this claim will be printed as Kevin Brownlow, not Brownwing, and it will be stated that the allegation appeared in the original edition of "The Parade's Gone By." And since few people bother to read in depth any more--they just skim the headlines, as it were--what started out as a satirical invention will emerge as The Truth.
If this seems like a pessimistic view about the public's gullibility, remember we now live in a world of what are called alternative facts. On the one hand, I find "The Sleaze"'s original parody of "Hollywood Babylon" pretty funny, although it might have been more appropriate or believeable if the sensational allegations had been attributed to a Kenneth Angst rather than a Kevin Brownwing. The danger, however, is with this parody having been presented as a legitimate rumor in Ms. Zeigenhorst's article, there will be others who take it seriously and continually circulate it as factual without recognizing or caring about its falsity. As Mark Twain said: "The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if only a man tells them with all his might." "How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!" "One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives."