News Article

All Faux One, One Faux All

Fibbers of the year -- Milli Vanilli, Vanilla Ice, Volvo, and ''20/20'' made the list for 1990

As recently as last spring, Milli Vanilli were not only insisting on their authenticity, they were pronouncing themselves ''more talented than any Bob Dylan.'' In November came the news that they didn't sing a note on their Grammy award-winning album, Girl You Know It's True. The Grammy committee took its trophy back, and Milli was left, as Dylan might put it, blowin' in the wind. Other fakes that took the cake:

An October segment of ABC's 20/20 informed more than 16 million Americans that the former Our Gang star Buckwheat, a.k.a. Billy Thomas, was now bagging groceries in Tempe, Ariz. One problem: The real Thomas died in 1980, and the subject of the piece was an imposter.

In November, Swedish automaker Volvo got caught with its tailgate down. A Volvo commercial showed a monster pickup truck driving over a long row of cars and crushing all except the Volvo, which withstood the weight because of allegedly superior craftsmanship. Actually, the car's roof was reinforced with steel beams, and the company paid over $300,000 to avoid a deceptive-advertising suit.

White rapper Vanilla Ice thought he needed a r´umé with extra star quality. So he claimed to have gone to the same Miami high school as the 2 Live Crew's Luther Campbell, and that a childhood knife fight had left him scarred. In November a paper in Dallas (where Ice really went to high school) questioned many of his claims, but when TV's Rick Dees pressed him about the knife fight, Ice dropped his trousers to reveal what looked like authentic scars. If you'd been caught with your pants on fire, wouldn't you take them off?

Originally posted Dec 28, 1990 Published in issue #46-47 Dec 29, 1990 Order article reprints