This is SUCH a 21st-century tale.
There are pranks and then there are what shouldn’t even be called pranks because the perpetrator has elevated it to an art form.
A writer for Vice in the UK named Oobah Butler decided to see if he could create a real buzz around a restaurant that didn’t exist using the online review site TripAdvisor. This is a long video but it’s pretty interesting. It is a mini-documentary that walks us through the entire journey from the time he was thinking about the concept.
The amount of preparation Butler puts into this should get him whatever the prank version of an Academy Award is. And if there isn’t such an award, one should be created just because of this. We can lament the laziness and lack of imagination of millennials all we want but this kid put in some sustained effort to make gullible adults not only believe that this restaurant existed, but actually get them writing reviews as if they had eaten there.
What did Butler need to get all of this rolling?
A phone number. Then a website, of course. After getting his “restaurant” listed on TripAdvisor, the work of pretending the place was booked began.
Butler’s attention to detail and level of effort here are most definitely impressive but his personality makes this fun to watch. He wears goofy hats and he is very personable. One could easily imagine him making a smooth transition from imaginative prankster to incredibly successful con man if he put his mind to it.
The woman who recently wrote the thoroughly pedestrian short story “Cat Person” for The New Yorker was given a seven-figure book deal after that pile of dreck went viral. What Butler has done here is infinitely more imaginative and entertaining.
One thing is certain, you’ll never trust an online review again.
[Mild NSFW Warning]