Some of Australia’s most high-profile media organisations have been left red-faced after being fooled by a classic Chaser stunt – and it’s all about a kids’ party staple.
The satirical group created an elaborate trail of fakery to back up an online petition calling for an end to the “offensive” term ‘fairy bread’ – the white bread covered in multicoloured sprinkles loved by five-year-olds across the nation.
Using the pseudonym of Alexis Chaise – who apparently has a PhD and works in “salesmanship” at a lounge company – the group first set up a host of fake social media profiles.
Then, over a period of about a fortnight, *Dr Chaise* contacted selected news outlets, issued announcements and drove online outrage about yet another example of “cancel culture”.
Sharing her online petition via Twitter, Dr Chaise hit a sour note about the sweet party treat.
“After spending my life abstaining from ‘fairy’ bread, I have been fed up for too long. The term ‘fairy’ is offensive and outdated, and should not be used to refer to a classic Australian food,” she wrote.
Her petition gives a description of fairy bread, outlines why she thinks it’s offensive and then pushes for a name change to “party bread”.
“The term ‘fairy’ is outdated and offensive, and has been used to belittle and oppress others. The fact that Australians in 2021 are still using this word in the name of a children’s food is reprehensible,” the petition reads.
“Bigotry is un-Australian, and so is fairy bread.”
The prank was clocked in early April by Sydney radio host Ben Fordham, whose team researched Dr Chaise, who is also a self-proclaimed “human rights campaigner”.
“I think the idea is to try to fool the media into thinking this campaign is legit,” Fordham said on his radio show.
“I’m pretty sure ‘Alexis Chaise’ is a type of couch.”
In fact, he was right. Lounge Lovers, the online furniture retailer where Dr Chaise claimed to work, sells an Alexis Chaise. Perhaps this was a clue?
Fordham called out the cheeky pranksters live-on-air, phoning Dr Chaise and berating her for using a fake name inspired by a type of couch and asking her where she got her PHD.
He pointed out the first four followers her account gained on Twitter were “Chaser boys” Craig Reucassel, Julian Morrow, Dominic Knight and The Chaser’s official account. Dr Chaise acknowledged the call hadn’t gone to plan.
But that didn’t stop The Chaser – who kept up the ruse with Australians and news media outlets for several more days. It all came to a head on Friday, when the anti-fairy bread petition threatened to go viral, appearing on a host of news websites from News.com.au to the Lad Bible.
Meanwhile, some of the comments on the original petition appeared to be fuelled by outrage, while others seemed to be in on the ruse.
“Anyone who makes fairy bread is worse than Hitler and if they’re a New Zealander they should be deported under the character test. That’s just science!” one person wrote.
Another questioned who the petition was directed at.
“Even if you succeed (which I can’t imagine how), what do you do if people continue to call it ‘fairy bread’? Do you propose that such people be criminally prosecuted or allowed to be sued?” they said.
The news outlets unfortunate enough to be fooled by the prank, with headlines such as ‘Call to change name of beloved Aussie food’, have since removed the articles.
But not before causing an uproar on social media channels.
Elsewhere, Dr Chaise is closing in on her goal of 1500 signatures on her fake fairy bread petition. By early Friday afternoon, 1091 people had signed on to share the outrage.