Please stop killing Morgan Freeman

GILES HARDIE
Last updated 16:35 17/09/2012
Morgan Freeman
REUTERS

ALIVE AND NOT CLICKING: Actor Morgan Freeman.

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For some reason the internet likes to kill Morgan Freeman.

On September 5, a Facebook page entitled R.I.P. Morgan Freeman was created and so was born an internet hoax that, ironically, refuses to die.

At the time the page pronounced its terrible (and wholly inaccurate) news with a shameless request for followers: "At about 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, our beloved actor Morgan Freeman passed away due to a artery rupture. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page."

It worked. The page now has more than 67,000 "likes" and is the subject of countless news stories.

Let's be clear. The Hollywood star and voice over king has played God, made a bucket list and killed at the box office, but he is not dead.

Morgan Freeman is alive.

There are a few pieces of evidence to back this up.

One is the words of his representative: "Morgan is alive and well, and joins the long list of actors who have been victimized by this hoax," the representative told E! Online (who also debunked the rumour that he is voicing an audio book of Fifty Shades of Grey).

Another is the "about" field for the very Facebook page in question now reads "he's still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the internet".

And then of course there is common sense. Morgan Freeman was pronounced dead a few times in 2010 via Twitter. He survived those incidents and survived this one. Yet this time around the rumours of Freeman's death have persisted.

Like some mentally challenged cousin of the internet troll, there are internet ghouls who like to "kill" celebrities. One website that turns up on a search for Freeman still pronounces him dead, truly hedging its bets by placing his date of death in the future (September 18). They make these dark pronouncements for attention, safe in the knowledge that the internet loves to grieve together, even when there is nothing to grieve.

Mark Twain famously quipped that reports of his death were greatly exaggerated, yet the combined wits of Twain, Wilde and Churchill could not provide sufficient rejoinders to deflate the quantity of celebrity death rumours these ghouls create.

Jeff Goldblum, Justin Bieber and Bill Cosby are other, regular, victims. Cosby in particular has indicated in the past how hurtful he finds these stories.

Australian musician Gotye aka Wouter ''Wally'' De Backer took to Twitter earlier this year to announce ''I'm not dead'' after iReport, the user generated portion of CNN's website declared he had committed suicide.

On that occasion bandmate Tim Shiel took on the role of Twain, announcing (also on Twitter) that ''it saddens me to confirm the news of @gotye's passing - he suffered cardiac arrest while flying a unicorn over a double rainbow".

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There is a tendency for people to suggest that there is no harm done by these stories, yet there is. From family through friends to fans, even a moment of seeing these headlines before common sense kicks in is hurtful.

Since the Freeman Facebook farce began, serial online death pronouncement pest Global Associated News has also tried to kill off Adam Sandler in a snowboarding accident, however, as the 21st century equivalent of the boy who cried "dead", they have been - for the most part - ignored.

Sadly this Facebook page was not.

Long live Morgan Freeman. I just wish these reports would die off.


- Sydney Morning Herald

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