Jackie Chan Is Dead Again

In an age when information is so readily accessible, it’s also readily abused. Our favorite death hoaxes — if you can have such a thing — are proof.

Man, when Jackie Chan finally bites the dust, it’ll be hard to get anyone to care.

Over the last several months, rumors of the actor’s death have surfaced a number of times in a series of eruptions on Twitter and the Internet at large, without explanation.

But they’re not without precedent. In an age when information is so readily accessible, it’s also readily abused. Our favorite death hoaxes — if you can have such a thing — are proof.

Chris Brown
The motivation here likely being wishful thinking, a carpet-bombing campaign waged in the comments sections of Brown’s music videos on YouTube perpetuated the myth that he’d gone to hell prematurely. By the score, participants left messages lamenting the singer’s undisclosed cause of death like “”Rest in peace – may you be greeted in heaven by seventy virgins and a baseballbat.”

Ben Savage
Two thousand six was a simpler time. Gas was under two bucks a gallon, skinny jeans were for women and people used a site called MySpace to display their terrible eye for web design. It was here where rumors of the untimely demise of the star of Boy Meets World proliferated despite a ho-hum presentation littered with typos. Kudos, death hoaxsters — you’ve come a long way.

Fred Savage
During the 2010 Emmy Awards, a montage honoring performers who’d died during the previous year scrolled across the screen. When an image of Corey Haim as a child appeared, it bore a resemblance to Ben’s big brother, Fred, in that way that all white people look alike. Undeterred by the words “Corey Haim” emblazoned over his image, Googlers immediately made a trend of the search term “Fred Savage Dead.”

Justin Bieber/Eminem
Ordinarily, these two wouldn’t be easily confused, but the same image was used at different times to perpetuate rumors of their deaths. Back in 2011 when fake news story links were a rampant plague on Facebook, scammers looking to sucker users into clicking a survey used a story about as click bait. Last May, the same story resurfaced on the social networking site replacing Eminem as the victim.

Steve Urkel (does the actor’s name really matter?) Back in the early aughts, viral content didn’t circulate on Twitter or Reddit, it was distributed via e-mail. So, while hoaxes didn’t spread as fast or wide, they didn’t require that much effort either. In 2006 pranksters simply typed the letters “AP” before a fake wire story about Jaleel White’s death that would give an actual Associated Press copy editor an aneurysm. The disclosure of a suicide note that read “Did I do that?” did nothing to dissuade believers.

Johnny Depp
In 2010, hackers cloned CNN.com and posted a realistic article reporting that Depp had cut his car in half with a guardrail in Bordeaux, France. The accompanying image was horrifying, but revealed the hardest fabrication in the story to swallow: that Johnny Depp drives a wiener neo-station wagon. For their gullibility, believers were rewarded with a hard drive full of malware.

Paul McCartney
Sir Paul’s rumored demise is made all the more impressive by the lack of an Information Superhighway of morons to aid its propagation. A campus magazine article in the late-‘60s claiming that clues to McCartney’s death could be divined in select Beatles tunes has snowballed into a 44-year-long myth that he’s been a look-alike this whole time.