Last night a friend sent me the latest viral COVID-19 misinformation video. You can view it below, though once it is inevitably removed from YouTube I won’t bother to re-link to it; I am sure it will be popping up on your Facebook feed soon enough (if it isn’t already).
Having recently spent considerable time attempting to help bring some clarity to the PlanDemic Documentary (26 minutes long) and the interview with the two Bakersfield Urgent Care Doctors (55 minutes long), I was glad that this video was fairly brief; the clip above is very short, but even the full-length video is a mere 3 minutes and 32 seconds. Still, it has over 680 million views, and that degree of viral spread, only equaled by SARS-CoV-2, deserves a response.
Claim #1: Never Gonna Give You Up
It’s hard to know to whom exactly this promise is being made. This was originally written in 1987, and Mr. Astley did not meet his wife, film producer Lene Bausager, until the song was already incredibly popular in 1988. Though I don’t have specific information on his personal life beforehand, it is reasonable to conclude that he did in fact ‘give up’ any former paramours prior to their relationship becoming serious.
Claim #2: Never Gonna Let You Down
The website KnowYourMeme defines the Rickrolling internet phenomenon as:
“A bait-and-switch prank that involves posting a hyperlink that is supposedly relevant to the topic at hand in an online discussion, but re-directs the viewer to the music video of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” a 1987 dance pop single by English singer-songwriter Rick Astley.”
With this working definition, the song Never Gonna Give You Up has itself ‘let people down’ millions of times, as they click on a link to an article, resource, or opinion piece they believe will be relevant or useful and instead are directed to the video, enjoyable as it is. Though Mr. Astley could not possibly have known this in 1987 when he first recorded the single, “never gonna let you down” has nevertheless proven to be a wildly inaccurate statement since.
Claim #3 Never Gonna Run Around and Desert You
While I cannot comment on Mr. Astley’s exercise habits, it is a well known fact that he left producers Stock Aitken Waterman shortly after his first World Tour in 1989. This was largely due to negative press associated with the production company, and in fairness to Mr. Astley may have been a very warranted decision. While it is difficult to assess in retrospect, and from such as distance, whether such a decision could be considered a ‘desertion’, it is at least evident that claims of never leaving are a misrepresentation of the options he considered as viable pathways for the future.
Claim #4 Never Gonna Tell a Lie
Notwithstanding the above claims, I cannot specifically note any instance of Mr. Astley’s having been known to lie. However, I believe it is a truism that all of us have been prone to resorting to untruths on occasion, sometimes justifiable and sometimes not. To claim that he would never tell a lie seems at best lyrical hyperbole (all too common in this era of imprecise musical lyrics) and at worst demonstrates poor introspection regarding his own personal standards of veracity, which even if superior could not be expected to be actually perfect.
Claim #5 Never Gonna Say Goodbye
Mr. Astley actually says “Goodbye” no fewer than 5 times in this song alone.
“A full commitment’s what I’m thinking of, you wouldn’t get this from any other guy.”
This has always struck me as one of the most absurd claims of this misinformation video, and there is solid empirical evidence that Mr. Astley is here mischaracterizing the level of commitment of other guys. As this article from Psychology Today examines in detail, data from Pew Research Center indicates that levels of desired relationship commitment in men, include levels of ‘full commitment’, differ very little from that in women. According to the author,
83 percent of men and 88 percent of women report being “completely” or “very” committed to their partner. Even in the early twenties, well before the average age of marriage, men (and women) report high levels of commitment and often anticipate lifelong unions.Elizabeth Aura McClintock Ph.D.
This evidence would suggest that, barring unknown or unusual circumstances, it would be inaccurate (and bordering on emotional manipulation) for Mr. Astley to suggest that no other guy would be interested in a full commitment to the intended recipient of his addresses.