“HwOOD $IgN I$ oFFiciaLLY My bIZnatCH!!!!! Good work2allmyHoTCULpritss!! LOOK AT THE SIGN LA!” wayward drunk-pop star Ke$ha twittered at 3:20 a.m. today, and soon, the above video emerged, purportedly showing the former Ms. Sebert and her girlfriends draping a bedsheet over the Hollywood Sign and relabeling it “Ke$hawood.”
Did this really happen? Um… no.
Before I committed any journalism, I checked in with my good friend Common Sense. It’s been pouring rain here in L.A. all day, so I knew the “early morning” footage of the group stumbling out of their limo to check out their handiwork wasn’t shot anytime in the last 12 hours. Also, my more sober friends and I have tried to get as close as possible to the sign in the past, and we were stopped hundreds of yards away when a security camera started talking to us. (“Hey, you. Yeah, you in the red shirt. I can see you. You want to get arrested?”) The sign is monitored 24 hours a day — I doubt a bunch of lit-up freaks in rabbit masks could get much closer. And as anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of scale could probably figure out, it would be very, VERY hard for anyone sans ladders/cranes to cover something 45 feet tall with bedsheets.
But just in case, I called Betsy Isroelit at the Hollywood Sign Trust, and asked her to confirm that no vandalism had taken place. She got in touch with the sign’s dedicated park rangers, sent an officer over to quadruple check, and called me back to say that the Ke$ha video was, as far as anyone knew, a computer-generated hoax. Her friends in the city’s General Services office even analyzed the tape, and came up with a couple fun debunking facts:
“First of all, when they run off — that’s a 40 foot drop there,” says Isroelit. “There’s no way they could be running off in heels. it’s very dangerous up there. Secondly, the sign is made of corrugated steel. It has ridges. And you can see what they pretend to be the sign is a completely flat surface.”
But “whether it’s a prank or not, it’s not a cool thing to do,” Isroelit continues, ”because it encourages others. The sign is a global treasure, and we hope if people ever see anything, they’ll let us know.”
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