December 22nd, 2007

Brilliant: Fake Steve Jobs Fakes Apple Shutdown Drama

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I can’t be 100% certain, but I’ll wager that Dan Lyons, AKA Fake Steve Jobs, is staging what, if it does turn out to be fake, one of the most brilliant bits of satire since A Modest Proposal.

Fake Steve has been posting today about receiving an offer from Apple to shut down The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs through a settlement similar to the one that resulted in the shut down of Think Secret. This post was followed by a series claiming that Apple was pissed at him for posting about the discussion in public, and was now threatening to sue him to shut down the blog. He even claims that Apple sent him a list of all his assets, with the implied threat that they would wipe him out:

And then, I swear to friggin God, there’s a list of my assets with an estimated value for each and I suppose the implied threat that I stand to lose them. Which kinda scares the living shit out of me, to be honest, since they’ve got a pretty thorough list, which means they’ve been doing some research on this and the offer didn’t just come out of thin air. Their lists includes my home address, most recent assessed value of my house and all the information about my mortgage; a rental property that we own; my bank accounts and investment accounts, including the college funds for our kids, whose names are used; and our boat and two cars.

Dan claims he can’t afford a lawyer and that he can’t ask the Electronic Frontier Foundation to represent him as they did Think Secret because of the post he did the day before skewering them for facilitating a settlement that resulted in Think Secret getting shut down.

I’ll admit, he had me going. The guy is a master. Until I read this comment in the most recent open comments post:

Alright commentards, you all are a huge bunch of idiots, fools, and hypocrites. This is so obviously fake. Don’t you get it??? Jesus people, everything on this blog has been a parody, a satire, a joke. What evidence do you have that this is real? None.

Doh!

What other evidence is there that this drama is fake, beyond FSJ being a fake satire blog? Well, for one thing, Dan did a rippingly funny post about an Apple “blogger amnesty program” to cut other “deals” with rogue blogs like Think Secret.

And there’s one other teeny bit of evidence that Dan Lyons is currently laughing his ass off at the outpouring of support for his “plight” — the Fake Steve Jobs blog is owned by Forbes.com!!! Don’t you think they have lawyers?

Brilliant, Dan, mind-blowingly brilliant.

Comments (16 Responses so far)

  1. I suggested as much earlier today in my post Satire is fine until it bites you on the ass although given Apple’s recent vistory in ThinkSecret shutting down one couldn’t be sure. FS post since then have been a perfect play on the situation and well within the spirit of satire.

  2. [...] At least Scott Karp called it right. [...]

  3. I just wasted 30 minutes reading all the comments to the post… on one hand, it’s amazing to me how hard it is for people to recognize satire.

    On the other hand, I suppose it’s always been this way, or has modern life become so absurd that people have a harder time spotting an obvious joke?

    Happy holidays Scott.

  4. It’s good to see Dan Lyons putting his Michigan MFA to good use, but I didn’t know they taught courses in satire there? Maybe I should transfer …

  5. [...] sure I would describe Fake Steve’s trolling for sympathy as “brilliant,” as my friend Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 has, but it’s obvious Lyons knew he could get a huge amount of mileage out [...]

  6. I don’t think anyone could be faulted for taking it seriously, at least at first. For a parody to break frame like this is unexpected, so it’s easy to assume that these posts are from Real Dan Lyons world rather than Fake Steve World. Very cunning, but slightly cruel I would also say.

    A lot of people are very good at faking, but that doesn’t make them brilliant; they may just be sociopaths. I’ve never been a big fan of the “ha ha I lied to you and made you care, now you look like an idiot!” school of satire.

  7. Markp,

    Satire is cruel by definition.

    “For a parody to break frame like this is unexpected”

    That’s why it’s so brilliant

  8. “if it does turn out to be fake, one of the most brilliant bits of satire since A Modest Proposal.”

    This has to be the single most ridiculous thing I’ve read today, and I just came here from Digg… The whole drama was transparent from the outset, and am I the only one who is getting tired of “Fake [insert web 2.0 celebrity name here] bloggers?

  9. Satire is generally cruel to the subject, not the audience, and it is usually framed as such. Readers of FSJ were genuinely concerned for him and now will be made to feel foolish, especially by highly intelligent people like Sean. I just don’t get a kick out of that.

  10. Oh great now I sound like a concern troll… let me clarify by saying that I did take it seriously, but was not exactly concerned by it since am not a regular subscriber (originally saw the story on TechMeme). I like satire, I like parody, I like South Park.

  11. Markp,

    The entire blog is satirical — did you expect him to announce, “Hey, these posts are going to sound real, but they’re really fake.”?

    The fact that he duped so many people, who like you are now finding it so difficult to explain their disposition towards it, is again why it’s so brilliant.

    He basically dramatized what went on behind the scenes with Think Secret. It’s masterful.

  12. oh snap, i got played

    The “Real” Dan Lyons voice in FSJ was trusted and had gained a lot of sympathy. He communicated directly to readers with it and when he claimed he was sued by Apple, those all too trusting were duped. Now, was that brilliant? Hardly. Although it might make all you commenters who were convinced it was fake feel better, it was just a dupe. He deceived people, by exploiting his own goodwill. Tell me again how that is brilliant in itself?

    Naive people and misanthropes alike probably recognized and weighed the same background info on why this could be a fake. Misanthropes got it right this time, but hardly because they or RDL were brilliant.

    That said, I did find the whole experience intriguing. Bloggers are very trusted, so perhaps there was value in Lyons demonstrating that there some danger in that.

  13. Scott,

    As an avid reader of FSJ, I picked up right away that it was fake. There were a few obvious tells.

    First, the time of the posts. The post where he says he was “just” contacted by Apple Lawyers was posted at around 7:30am EDT on a Saturday morning. Are Apple lawyers that dedicated that they’re workings at 4:30 am Pacific time? I don’t think so.

    Second, he has made references to Andy Kaufman characters, and also included a picture of Andy Kaufman in his womens wrestler phase. Andy Kaufman was notorious for this type of satire.

    I agree that this is brilliant. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. I predict that this is a prelude to Fake Steve Jobs leaving the blogosphere.

    Mark

  14. [...] my bank accounts and investment accounts, including the college funds for our kids, … <http://publishing2.com/2007/12/22/brilliant-fake-steve-jobs-fakes-apple-shutdown-drama/&gt; Publishing [...]

  15. Apple should shore up its own leaks and not punish those that are given the information. I believe this is how all press get good news stories is by someone inside getting information out. I have always been amused at how Microsoft gets all the bad press about how it does business. I think Apple is much more a control freak company. Just look at how they control their hardware and software. Need I say iPhone? Or as Steve Jobs may say. MyPhone.

  16. [...] Okay, so FSJ lives on, the shutdown was fake. I fell for [...]

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