In the summer of 2021, an old quotation — widely attributed to the actor and comedian Jim Carrey — re-emerged online and on social media. The meme consisted of a photograph of Carrey, along with the following text:
I say we close down the national media for 30 days and watch 80% of the world’s problem [sic] go away.
The meme has been shared hundreds of thousands of times since 2020; but in reality, Carrey never uttered or wrote those words, and the quotation had his name attached to it after it first emerged online without any attribution. As such, we are issuing a rating of “Misattributed.”
It’s not clear who first said or wrote “I say we close down the national media for 30 days and watch 80% of the world’s problems go away.” The earliest instance we found on Twitter was on March 14, 2020, and the earliest on Facebook was March 19, 2020.
It received a boost in April 2020, when right-wing online commentator Ryan Fournier posted a version of it to his hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook:
Still other versions, including some that reference “99% of the world’s problems,” as opposed to 80 percent, were posted to social media in 2020 and 2021.
The earliest version to link Carrey to the line was posted on April 6, 2020 — three weeks after the earliest instance of the quote (without attribution), which is typically a sign that a popular online meme has had a celebrity’s name or image attached to it after the fact.
Furthermore, we could find no affirmative evidence whatsoever that Carrey had uttered or written those words, or a similar formulation of words, despite checking extensive online news archives and the actor’s own social media. Carrey has been a high-profile Hollywood celebrity for decades, and his remarks and personal life receive extensive scrutiny, especially from tabloid newspapers and celebrity gossip websites. If he had made the statement attributed to him in the meme, it is a virtual certainty that some record of it would exist.
The absence of any such record, combined with the fact that the quotation in question trended for weeks, without attribution, before Carrey’s name was hitched to it, constitutes satisfactory proof that he was not the ultimate source.