Comedy website 'fesses up to hoverboard hoax video
Daniel Bitonti, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:50AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 9:25PM EST
Hoverboards may exist in the movies. And for a period of time this week, many were convinced they exist today.
But it turns out comedy website ‘Funny or Die’ was behind the elaborate hoverboard hoax video that hit the web Monday and has since been viewed more than six million times.
As far as Internet hoaxes go, the video promoting a real-life hoverboard might go down as the one of the most sophisticated ever.
On Monday, a company called HUVr Tech released a video promoting its "invention": a hoverboard just like the one seen in "Back to the Future Part II."
"What began as a summer project in 2010 at the MIT Physics Graduate Program has evolved into one of the most exciting independent products to be developed out of MIT since the high-powered lithium-ion batteries developed by Yet-Ming Chiang in 2001," according to an explanation on the HUVr Tech website.
And then there was the slick video -- the one that had everyone talking. The video begins with shots of a car resembling the famous Delorean from "Back to the Future," the time machine Michael J. Fox’s character "Marty" uses to travel through history. The car parks and Christopher Lloyd, the actor who played the eccentric “Doc” in the movie franchise, exits, holding a large case with "HUVr" written on it.
Celebrity after celebrity, including skateboarding legend Tony Hawk and electro artist Moby, try out the contraption, which resembles a stylized skateboard with foot straps and no wheels. The video shows a HUVr tech employee pressing a button on a remote control, which lifts the board -- and the user -- off of the ground.
Each person riding the hoverboard looks a little bit wobbly at first, before eventually finding their footing.
But on Wednesday, the dreams of hoverboard hopefuls came crashing to the ground as Funny or Die apologized for the hoax in another video that features Lloyd.
"Those rascals over at Funny or Die tricked you and me into thinking hoverboards were real," he says, speaking in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
Lloyd says he was "blinded" by his own desire to believe hoverboards did, in fact, exist.
"My brain must have erased the wires," he says of the original HUVr video.
Funny or Die is giving away the hoverboard featured in the video that was signed by the cast on the L.A. set to one individual who posts a comment on the 'Funny or Die is sorry for lying about hoverboards' post on its Facebook page.
"At the very least one person will be happy after so many of you have been saddened," Lloyd says, adding that he hopes the video inspired others to get into the "hover sciences."
Initial reaction on Twitter following the HUVr video revealed that some people were completely convinced, or at least really hoping, the hoverboard is the real thing.
Please let this be real. Please let this be real. Please let this be real. HUVr - The Future has arrived. http://t.co/VwrBGkdJdi— John Engelman (@heavynuggets) March 4, 2014
I almost cried when watching HUVr board video. 2015 is near. And no, I haven't watch Back To The Future II. Waiting for next year.— Pinot (@pinot) March 5, 2014
But the consensus that emerged among most Internet commentators Wednesday was that the video was an elaborate and convincing hoax.
The biggest piece of evidence is the technology itself: despite how real the video looks, how could a company -- one that no one had heard of until just a few days ago – invent something that could revolutionize the transportation industry while remaining entirely under the radar? Would we not have heard about the hoverboard’s development long before this?
And careful viewers point out apparent hoax evidence can be seen in the video. At the 3:28 mark, one shot appears to reveal the presence of a harness.
The above image from the video shows a shadow of what looks like safety harness in a parking attendant’s booth directly behind the person riding the hoverboard.
A report on the online news aggregator Mashable was one of the first to suggest Funny or Die was behind the whole thing.
Still, questions continue to swirl over the point of the viral campaign.
Maybe the big payoff for those involved was to see the Internet explode in debate about whether the hoverboard is real.
If that’s the case, then they sure succeeded.