It's been fun while it's lasted, but the monstrous creature that washed up in Montauk, Long Island may have been nothing more than a prop from an independent movie about carnies, and a viral marketing scheme just as everyone initially suspected. There are enough untied loose ends in the hoax storyline to leave open the possibility that the hoax is itself a hoax, meaning the story has now entered a confusing phase where one must carefully sift the professed deceptions from the real deceptions and hard facts from intentional distortions. But one can try. Here's how a hoax would have gone down, according to a theory propagated on a few websites (linked below) over the past few days:
The producer of the film, Darren Goldberg (pictured above), and/or his associates would have left two distinct props from his movie on beaches near Montauk. Some honest people came across these props and were fooled into thinking they were corpses. The first to surface was, as has been reported, photographed by the sister of a friend of publicist Alanna Nevitski, who forwarded the picture to Jezebel, which forwarded the picture to Gawker, which published it to mass hysteria.
Another picture, appearing less decomposed, was taken earlier in the day by Ryan O'Shea and Christina Pampalone and appeared in Newsday, which also reported tips from readers who had see the monster all over Long Island. It was later noted that, given the timing reported by Newsday, the body seemed to decompose awfully quickly over the course of one day. The paper also reported a sighting of a live version of the monster, which would have, under the hoax scenario, been made as part of the prank.
A group of three women later appeared on Plum TV to talk about discovering the monster and taking the photo that appeared on Gawker. One of the women was Rachel Goldberg, not identified at the time as the sister of Darren Goldberg, who is making the carnie movie, Splinterheads. The women insisted the creature "exists" and was not a Photoshop creation, and claimed they were looking for a scientist to study what remained of it. This seemed to jibe with what Colin Davis and their other male friends said on CNN. Both groups of friends would have been working in conjunction with the movie producer at this point to keep the hoax going. They claimed the body had already decomponsed to a bones and "goo," which they were keeping in a bag. One of the group later said, quite suspiciously, that the remains had been stolen.
The original supplier of the photo, Nevitski, told New York that Goldberg and the other women on Plum TV were "full of shit" because Nevitski's friend, still anonymous, took the original picture. If the monster was a hoax, Goldberg would have seen the interview as a golden opportunity to inflate the hoax further by appearing on TV, but needed to lie about taking that specific picture in order to get in front of the camers. Nevitski's friend was refusing interviews. When she went on, Goldberg suddenly had a new, alternate picture of the monster, indicating she had her own, original photos.
Blogger Nicky Papers also thought the women were lying, and wrote on Montauk-Monster.com about their nervous ticks, like giggling and breaking eye contact. He also noticed that Goldberg talked first and her friends followed her lead.
The blogger was then contacted by a source who claimed Rachel Goldberg was related to Darren Goldberg. The source said Goldberg was making Splinterheads and that the monster will appear in the movie. This was the first time the movie was tied to the monster.
The website for the movie seemed to admit to the whole thing yesterday, posting, "We have the Montauk Monster." The blog for the movie also made an admission, linking to Papers' story and another hoax report and adding, "Thanks Darren's sister." The blog, especially, has enough content that it seems genuine, as opposed to the work of a prankster.
Arguments in favor of the hoax theory:
- The body is missing, supposedly "stolen," a fishy story. Who steals a bag of bones and goo?
- There has been no examination by scientists, as promised.
- It's the simplest explanation. Occam's razor.
- The movie people are claiming credit on their website and blog.
- Goldberg and the other women were acting kind of funny on Plum TV.
Arguments against Splinterhead creating the monster:
- Splinterhead is about a carnival. Why would there be monsters is such a movie? Further, it has been described repeatedly not as a horror or paranormal movie but as a comedy. Falsely claiming credit for creating the Montauk Monster would fit better with a comedy than actually having such an ugly creature in the movie, right?
- The moviemakers never come out and say on their website or blog that they actually made the monster. They only imply it. Perhaps they are having a bit of fun.
- There is no proof that Darren and Rachel Goldberg are related, only a statement on Darren Goldberg's blog, which could be a joke.
- Papers is trying to sell montauk-monster.com. Maybe this is all a big scam to drive traffic to the site, somehow!
- How has the story stayed under the radar all week? Montauk-monster.com had this days ago, why did it take so long for anyone to notice? And was Gotham News really the first news publication to cover the story, beating the TV people, blogs (save for Montauk-monster.com) and at least one newspaper on the case? How?
- How could so many people have been fooled by a movie prop? Wouldn't it have looked suspiciously plasticky or something?
Either way, a movie has managed to attach itself, cheaply, to a fairly large media phenomenon. One way or another, it's guerilla marketing. And we all kind of new that's how it would end up, didn't we?