January 18, 2013

Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line*



It seems that I missed the 2010 documentary "Catfish," which dealt with a man's (Nev) online relationship with a woman (Megan) that begins on Facebook and with his attempts to find out whether or not this woman was real (she wasn't, an acquaintance of Nev's, Angela, had made her up). The title refers to a remark in the film about the behavior of catfish and cod in captivity: Cod tend not to move around a lot, which results in their flesh being less tasty. However, if catfish are added to their tanks, the cod move around a lot more. People like Angela are described as "catfish" -- they make other people move around.

At the time, there was some discussion of "Catfish" itself being a hoax (etymology: probably from "hocus"), but in general the film was well-received.

And it has received more attention now that another case of "catfishing" -- yes, it's now a verb -- is being discussed in the news. College football player Manti Te'o from Notre Dame was much admired for his resolve after living through the death of his grandmother and his girlfriend in 2012. Alas, the girlfriend never existed. It's still a bit unclear why Te'o would make up a girlfriend (and her death), but Te'o himself claims that he was the victim of a hoax and that it had had been an online relationship. Very strange! But so is a catfish.


*The title of this blog post is a line from "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen.




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