Way back in 1988, as described in a New Republic article, satirist Joe Queenan submitted a blatantly falsified biography to the publishers at Who’s Who in order to prove that the publisher would print just about anything without checking any facts. Decades later, a prankster named Jordan Minor did basically the same thing, except instead of lying about his own accomplishments, he was curating a completely bogus history for the half-forgotten animated series Street Sharks. Minor writes about his “ongoing social experiment” in an eye-opening piece for Geek. Running three seasons in the mid-1990s, Street Sharks was DIC Entertainment’s low-rent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip-off. Minor found that he could submit completely invented plot synopses and voice credits for the series to sites like TV Tome because nobody was paying attention. No one in a position of authority cared enough about this show to filter out the falsehoods. This is why legitimate publications still employ copy editors.
Minor went a bit mad with the extremely modest amount of power he’d been granted through the indifference and negligence of the internet. He invented characters, like “Dr. Paradigm” and “Roxie.” He claimed that the voice cast included Adam West and famed shark-jumper Henry Winkler. He created summaries for ridiculous episodes like “The Hot Chick” and “The Shiva Saga.” Minor watched in delight as his lies spread to IMDB entries and Wikipedia talk pages. “It was a fun creative exercise,” he says now, “trolling as antagonistic fan fiction.” But Minor’s real enemy doesn’t seem to be Street Sharks, a show he describes as “a kitschy piece of 1990s pop culture trash.” Instead, his target has been the entire internet, a place where reality and fantasy are freely intermingled. Minor loves that his falsehoods have been accepted as facts in so many online venues, but in a world where Wikipedia is rapidly usurping actual encyclopedias, his story has some troubling implications.