Meet the Guy Behind the ‘Radiohead at Occupy Wall Street’ Hoax
In an aptly titled Gawker post called I’m the Jerk Who Pranked Occupy Wall Street, writer Malcolm Harris comes clean and reveals he’s the guy who convinced all of New York (and the world) that Radiohead were going to make a special appearance at Zuccotti Park in September, when they were in New York City to play two concerts at the Roseland Ballroom. Want to reach him? Here’s his Twitter.
Harris details how he went about spreading the rumor:
1) He wrote a blog post for Jacobin magazine suggesting he’d heard a rumor Radiohead were going to perform.
2) He engaged a Gawker reporter over Twitter and claimed his editor hadn’t let him report his scoop in full.
3) He created a Gmail account under the name of one of Radiohead’s managers (Bryce Edge) and sent a note to Occupy Wall Street’s Arts and Culture Committee who then held a press conference.
4) He sat back and watched the news ooze into the mainstream as Gawker and Russell Simmons tweeted about it.
5) Then he actually went to the park to see how many people he’d fooled into turning out. It was a lot.
The ruse worked because it was plausible. At the first of their two Roseland shows, Thom Yorke chatted about a documentary that chronicled business’ role in the 2007 financial crisis. “Did you see the film Inside Job? They’re still here. Still working a few blocks from here,” he said before “Bodysnatchers.” After all, these are the guys that tried to explode the corporate center of the music business by selling In Rainbows for whatever fans wanted to pay for it.
Jeff Mangum wound up playing OWS a few days later, and Yorke, of course, performed at Occupy London in December. Musicians as varied as Kanye West, Tom Morello, Pete Seeger, and Miley Cyrus pledged their support (or showing up for a good photo opp), and the Radiohead mix-up is in retrospect perceived as a major turning point for OWS since it brought so many people — and so much fresh attention — to the ragtag crew of activists in lower Manhattan. But lying in the name of Radiohead? That is never cool.