The alien abduction movie Fourth Kind is a good example of the bad things a culture produces when people care more about whether claims are interesting than whether they are true. Since Fourth Kind is, in truth, a monumental fraud — fiction trying very hard to attract attention and ticket sales by pretending rather convincingly to be a documentary with no obvious “wink” to the audience — I would not be troubled by, say, a class action suit aimed at getting moviegoers’ money back. Nothing unlibertarian about saying so, either: fraud should be legally punished. (Ideally, even everyday non-business lies ought to be legally actionable, I’d say, if you accept the logic behind punishing fraud and are able to come up with reasonable assessments of damage.)
I was pleased, then, to see these two paragraphs in the Wikipedia entry for Fourth Kind, which hint that at least some small pressure may have been brought to bear on Fourth Kind by people caught up in its lies:
On November 12, 2009 Universal Pictures agreed to a $20,000 settlement with the Alaska Press Club “to settle complaints about fake news archives used to promote the movie.” Universal acknowledged that they created fake online news articles and obituaries to make it appear that the movie had a basis in real events.
On November 13th, 2009 by WorstPreviews.com Staff: “Universal Pictures has just reached out to us to let us know that the studio was not sued and the money was just a contribution Universal made to the Alaska Press Club. The contribution was not a result of any lawsuit.”
On a far less sinister note, how do we rate this costume from the new Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand for historical accuracy? Any historians want to weigh in?