The INSIDER Summary:
- There’s a conspiracy theory online that Avril Lavigne died and was replaced by someone else.
- A long thread about the theory on Twitter inspired a new meme: “a conspiracy thread.”
- With the meme, people wildly allege that something has been replaced without anyone noticing.
On Friday, a conspiracy theory about Avril Lavigne shook the celebrity gossip world, and the aftershocks are spreading through the meme universe.
“avril lavigne is dead & was replaced by a look alike [sic],” Twitter user a divinite feminine asserted.
She followed it up with a colon, and then a phrase now becoming famous around the web: “a conspiracy thread.”
avril lavigne is dead & was replaced by a look alike: a conspiracy theory thread pic.twitter.com/9eearQ2rte
— la divinité féminine (@givenchyass) May 13, 2017
In more than 50 tweets, the Twitter user argues that Avril Lavigne was replaced by a woman named Melissa Vandella, who Lavigne allegedly hired as a doppelganger to confuse the paparazzi. The real Avril, she says, is dead.
The conspiracy theory that Lavigne is dead has circulated around the internet for awhile, but this Tweetstorm updates the theory by naming Lavigne’s alleged replacement and by positing that Vandella replacing Lavigne explains why the musician’s sound changed so much between her 2004 moody pop-punk album “Under My Skin” and 2007’s bubblegummy “The Best Damn Thing.”
— la divinité féminine (@givenchyass) May 14, 2017
The whole thing is nonsense, of course. Like many conspiracy theories, it’s filled with falsehoods and needless complexity.
But it’s fun, and the wild accusation spawned a new meme on Twitter where people allege something in their life has been replaced without anyone noticing.
Pauly D died in 2010 and was replaced by Michael Cera: a conspiracy thread pic.twitter.com/1UeD03j8aO
— paperwash© (@PaperWash) May 17, 2017
A lot of the memes are used to joke about long-running television shows, where actors for the same characters are replaced and designs are updated.
The DOCTOR DIED and was REPLACED by SOMEONE who looks NOTHING LIKE HIM: A CONSPIRACY THEORY THREAD. pic.twitter.com/oFi1hDGES0
— Dalek Rusty (@DalekRusty) May 17, 2017
Arthur dead and replaced by a lookalike: a conspiracy theory thread pic.twitter.com/KAFr4l3YeW
— tara (@wutintaranation) May 17, 2017
Ash Ketchum died in 2016 and was replaced by a look-alike: a conspiracy theory thread pic.twitter.com/QsZmHtqXpZ
— Schwartdawg (@Jacob_witha_K) May 17, 2017
Bugs Bunny died in 1948 and was replaced: a conspiracy thread pic.twitter.com/7AVABJS95o
— Jacob Shamsian (@JayShams) May 17, 2017
Trunks died and was replaced by a look-a-like: A conspiracy thread pic.twitter.com/dCTJ5MHHN3
— Trappin Trunks ™ (@JustTrunks) May 17, 2017
Or for other switcheroos in pop culture:
Miley Cyrus was killed off by Disney Channel and replaced by look-alikes: a conspiracy theory thread pic.twitter.com/WU4ZgpA3ZO
— sofia loves h; (@onIyangel94) May 17, 2017
Lucky Charms Leprechaun is dead and replaced by a lookalike: A Conspiracy Theory thread pic.twitter.com/vdfW0EVvQN
— StraightOutaHavana (@Cubano3902) May 17, 2017
bob is dead and was replaced by a lookalike: a conspiracy thread pic.twitter.com/rLvP8HvPOL
— Emma Blackery (@emmablackery) May 17, 2017
But the best versions of the meme, as usual, are the self-deprecating ones:
Bae: you’ve changed. I miss the old you. What happened to u?
me: your lover died & was replaced by a lookalike; a conspiracy theory thread
— Tatty Hassan (@TattyHassan) May 17, 2017
parents: you were such a smart kid what happened??!?
me: your child died and was replaced by a lookalike; a conspiracy theory thread
— keith (@larasjeansong) May 16, 2017
my neopets are dead and were replaced by tweets about depression: a conspiracy thread
— jaboukie young-white (@jaboukie) May 16, 2017
I’ve been dead for years and replaced with a hollow disappointing version of my former self: a conspiracy theory thread
— troy boy (@cockaine_) May 15, 2017
The ‘conspiracy thread’ meme has forerunners.
The meme’s appeal — wild accusations and a sense of loss — have existed in other memes that precede it.
“A conspiracy thread” is a similar version of “It’s time for some game theory,” which originated in a long, far-out Tweetstorm from political analyst Eric Garland theorizing about Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. It captivated parts of the political establishment — and was then widely mocked as a meme.
Like the “game theory” meme, people who engage with the “a conspiracy theory” meme have fun making wild-yet-trivial speculations while ignoring a need for evidence.
guys, its time for some game theory
the bubble bobble dinosaurs could kill super mario easily
— BAKOON (@BAKKOOONN) December 12, 2016
Time for some game theory pic.twitter.com/jXeQlahYxE
— Holly Anderson (@HollyAnderson) December 17, 2016
its time for some game theory: waluigi represents anarchist ideology in opposition to wario’s statist and mario’s monarchist tendencies
— yehoak on may 17th (@yehoak) December 12, 2016
The “conspiracy thread” meme also recalls “Shazaam,” an ostensible movie where the comedian Sinbad stars as a genie. It never existed, but hundreds of people think it does, possibly because of the Mandela Effect.
Both memes have the same emotional appeal: people can mourn a pop culture artifact now lost to them. With “Shazaam,” the beloved movie from childhood can never be watched again, because it never existed in the first place. There’s a sense of absence that can’t be fulfilled.
It’s the same with “a conspiracy thread.” The old Avril Lavigne, who made songs like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” is gone. Now we have an Avril Lavigne who makes songs like “Hello Kitty” and “Let Me Go.” It would be nice if we can get the old, punky Avril back instead of the glossy pop Avril we have now. But she’s not dead, and she’s the only Avril we have.
Representatives for Avril Lavigne did not respond to INSIDER’s multiple requests for comment.
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