Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Origin of LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG GUNS, Or "A Lie Can Travel Around the World and Back Again While The Truth Is Putting On Its Shoes”

There's a supposed quote from American author Mark Twain about how, "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Many times the first media report about something, regardless of its accuracy or whether the complete story is told, will travel far and people will ignore the follow-up. 

This article from NPR discusses the early coverage of the Sandy Hook school shooting, including how somebody else was mistakenly identified as the shooter and how some early reports claimed school officials actually let the shooter into the schoolSunil Tripathi was initially identified as one of the Boston Marathon bombers, only for it to come out later he'd committed suicide long before the bombing. More recently and speaking from my personal experience, I initially thought the episode with the students from Covington Catholic High School and Native American activist Nathan Phillips just involved a confrontation between them--the involvement of a third party (a group of street preachers affiliated with the Black Hebrew Israelites) didn't appear in any of the news I'd read until some time later. This article from The Atlantic breaks down how the major media failed to point out that the BHI preachers had initially confronted the Native Americans and then attempted to redirect the whole situation toward the Catholic students, instead focusing on student Nick Sandmann, who appeared to be smirking at Phillips while he plays the drums. Several media outlets ended up settling lawsuits with Sandmann, whom I remember being vilified online at the time (to the point the school closed due to threats) and even now.


And this is something that applies to my own writing, in particularly my horror-comedy novella Little People, Big Guns from Deadite Press. I got the initial idea for LPBG from a news story that claimed TV chef Gordon Ramsay had a gay dwarf porn star lookalike named Percy Foster, who was found dead in a badger den. However, the Huffington Post did some digging and found that not only had local police no idea what was going on, but nobody in the porn industry had heard of Mr. Foster, who should be more well-known given his stature and who he looks like. Furthermore, the initial reporting on the incident came from The Sunday Sport, a British tabloid that, among other things, has claimed a WWII bomber had been found on the Moon. However, the Murdoch papers picked up on the initial reporting and spread it all over the world. The story circulated online--here's a Facebook post from 2014 about it and here is a 2018 article from The Daily Mail. 2018--that's seven years after the incident was debunked. Lies can live forever on the Internet it seems.

However, even though it turns out the whole incident with Mr. Foster didn't actually happen, that got my creative juices flowing. The initial story idea (which just focused on the little people and the killer badgers), after some suggestions from then-editor of Deadite Jeff Burk, soon grew into a bizarre almost true-crime saga involving terrorists, car chases, and even an unnaturally large and dangerous animal. If you like your horror spiced with comedy or if your sense of humor trends very dark, I would recommend checking out Little People, Big Guns.

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