Somewhere there exists a checklist of requirements every fake paranormal “creature” or “alien” video must fulfill before it can be uploaded to YouTube and go viral:
- It must be as low-resolution and fuzzy — pixelated is best! — as possible, short of stirring up hatred amongst commenters.
- The camera work has to be lame — just this side of too shaky, jerky, and out of control to prevent an occasional glimpse of the “mysterious” subject.
- It has to start in the middle of the action and stop before things get good.
- It must include at least two voices on the soundtrack, preferably both male — one relatively calm but ready to crack under stress (this would be the camera operator), the other upset and verging on hysteria (“Oh, my God! What IS that?! No, it’s over there. It’s over THERE now! Oh, GOD!!!”).
- The camera must zoom in and out impetuously.
- The title must be assembled from this vocabulary: Mysterious, Strange, REAL, Paranormal, Disturbing, Creepy, Freakiest, TRUE, Creature, Beast, Alien, Bigfoot, Cryptid, Humanoid, Chupacabra, Caught on Film, Click Now!
With that as our guidebook, let’s look at a video that satisfies every one of these criteria:
The video went viral in mid-August 2016, though it had been quietly making the rounds for some time before it captured the world’s attention. A version uploaded on 13 June 2016 claimed the footage was shot in the “Navajo Nation” in 2007. The language spoken in the video appears to be Portuguese, but we’ve seen no external evidence confirming that it was shot in either Portugal or the southwestern U.S.
If the “creature” in the video looked remotely real it might be worthwhile to undertake a careful debunking, but let’s not go overboard. Just study the lighting. Compare the direction from which the sunlight strikes the creature (the rear) to the direction the creature’s shadow and all the other shadows in the landscape are falling (to the rear). The lighting on the creature is inconsistent with its surroundings. The creature, obviously animated, was clipped from another source and clumsily superimposed over this footage. It’s captivating, in the way bad Bigfoot footage often is, yet utterly unbelievable. Criteria for virality sufficiently met? And then some!