So remember yesterday, when former Portland band YACHT claimed a sex tape involving members Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans had been stolen and uploaded to the internet? And then they decided to make the video available for a paid download through their website? And then a bunch of media outlets high-fived them for their bravery in taking control of this horrifying exploitation, despite the fact that no one, save a few of YACHT's celebrity fans, reported to have successfully downloaded the thing?
Yeah, it was all a hoax.
Earlier today, the "video" appeared on PornHub. (NSFW, obviously, even though the video itself isn't particularly scandalous.) It features a couple minutes of innocuous night-vision canoodling between Bechtolt and Evans before a sudden twist ending.
According to Jezebel, the band sent an email to Gawker Media over a month ago, trying to get the site to go in on the deception with them. "For the upcoming music video for our song, 'I Wanna Fuck You Til I'm Dead,' we're faking a sex tape leak," reads the email, allegedly written by Evans. "In the days leading up to the video's release, we're going to pretend we were hacked, share and delete confessional social media posts on the subject of our privacy, then try to 'get out in front of it' and sell the sex tape, fake a server crash, etc."
We were skeptical, too, as YACHT has already used techno-pranksterism to promote their current record, I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler. But we tempered our suspicions slightly, because, you know, revenge porn is a real thing that can destroy lives, and you don't want to come out and flat-out claim someone is lying about something so heinous. But as this Vice piece points out, many elements of this story didn't add up.
And now, people are pissed.
revenge porn is a form of sexual violence. taking advantage of the work we have done for a cheap PR stunt really, really sucks.
— jes skolnik (@modernistwitch) May 10, 2016
YACHT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
UPDATE, May 10, 12:51 pm: YACHT has released a statement on the hoax.
Our sex tape is now viewable on PornHub and being seeded on The Pirate Bay.
We created a story that was quickly revealed as fiction by the internet. We expected interest, skepticism, and laughter. We didn’t anticipate the outpouring of genuine support, due partially to the credulity with which this story was so extensively and immediately reported.
We did make a “sex tape,” and we want you to watch it. We released it as a slowly-unveiling conspiracy, inspired in equal part by The X-Files, Nathan for You, and The KLF. It’s a project that allowed us to play with science fiction, the attention economy, clickbait journalism, and celebrity sex tapes all at once.
If you tried to purchase the video here, your card was never charged. This was not designed to make money or sell records, but to explore the intersection of privacy, media, and celebrity. We enjoy and have spent a decade creating multi-faceted projects that unfold over time, using the most current tools at our disposal.
There is one dark note we want to address. We never make light of victims of any form of sexual abuse. Frankly, it’s disturbing to us that press outlets could make the incredibly irresponsible leap from “celebrity sex tape,” which is the cultural trope this project explicitly references, to “revenge porn,” which is unfunny, disgusting, morally repugnant, and completely unrelated. Even within the fictional narrative we created, there was no violence or exploitation. It was always about agency and proactive empowerment.
We couldn’t have asked for better fans, and we realize we’ll need to try much harder to fool you. We will continue to work very hard to produce work that engages and responds to you.
Claire & Jona