Dateline: 14th October 2014

Is Crabzilla Real?

A flurry of reports in the press suggest that a 50 foot crab has been spotted on aerial photographs of Whitstable, hanging menacingly around the port.



Quite what has propelled this story into the papers today is a mystery in itself. The world faces a million problems - from ISIS and Ebola to David Cameron's disturbing forehead and Ed Milibands adenoids - and we're far from the 'silly season' during which the press are most active looking for stories such as these. 

The image of the giant crab is taken from WeirdWhitstable.co.uk - a clever and funny collection of doctored images (which you can buy for just 7 a pop). The site's owner recently penned articles for Fortean Times, accompanied by some of the images - presented without comment - which the magazine's readers were quick to pick up on.

Amusingly, the Express (who appear to have coined the term 'Crabzilla') interviewed the site's owner, who managed a neat bit of culture jamming by telling a reporter - with a straight face:

"It had glazed blank eyes on stalks, swivelling wildly and it clearly was a massive crab with crushing claws."

The way in which these have been transmitted from a tongue-in-cheek website to coverage in allegedly serious papers speaks volumes about the age in which we live. Newspapers have often acted as transmitters of folklore (see their continuing obsession with swan-munching immigrants) and now, in the digital age and with journalists no longer trained in rigour, that role is taking them back to their roots: as mere rumour sheets. We await the resurrection of the broadside ballad with interest.

As some people have already pointed out, you can find the source image used to create the fake on Bing Maps.



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