There’s nothing the internet loves more than videos of people freaking out on planes. This is especially true in the age of Covid-19, in which mask and vaccine requirements have made air travel significantly more high-pressure than usual: we love watching a Karen go HAM on an unsuspecting flight attendant or passenger, and then to watch her get her comeuppance for it later.
But if there’s anything we’ve learned about viral content, it’s that if a video seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Case in point: a four-part TikTok video purporting to show a man on a packed flight complaining about his seatmate breastfeeding a cat on a packed flight, which went viral on Twitter last night.
1/4 I’m dying. “Is it a cat or baby!?” “She is breastfeeding a cat.” from @alessiavaesenn on tik tok. It’s worth it. pic.twitter.com/VKWmA0NwMO
— Marshall Allman (@MarshallAllman) December 21, 2021
To the sophisticated online content consumer, there are many, many tells which would seem to indicate that the above video is staged, or at the very least of dubious origin. There’s the weird spacing of the seats; the fact that the blinds are all drawn up on the flight; the seemingly professional camera quality and the impeccable comic timing of the enraged seatmate. Yet for whatever reason — a pre-holidays thirst for content, perhaps — people unquestioningly shared the video, usually in the context of expressing their incredulity about the behavior of a clueless white woman. “I’M DYING LMAOOOO WHITE WOMEN,” wrote one Twitter user, whose tweet has more than 7,500 retweets as of press time. The fact that a real-life news story went viral earlier this month about a woman on a Delta flight from Syracuse to Atlanta who was reportedly apprehended by security for attempting to nurse a hairless cat onboard, seemed to confirm the video’s authenticity.
Of course, just because people wanted the video to be real doesn’t mean that it was. As reporter Ryan Broderick tweeted, though the video originally went viral on TikTok, it appears to have been posted Dec. 18 on the Facebook page for the Gooch, a content creator with 98,000 followers on Facebook and former Ringling Brothers circus clown who posts “scripted dramas, satires, parodies, magic tricks, pre-recorded videos, and other forms of entertainment” on his page. (In an email to Rolling Stone, the Gooch himself confirmed this, saying that the videos on TikTok that went viral were stolen from his account.) Many of the videos on the Gooch’s page are set on a plane, including a video posted Dec. 16 titled “Rude woman on plane gets instant karma” about a woman complaining about being seated next to a baby (which appears to be swaddled in the same blanket as the cat in the breastfeeding video).
The dark-haired cat breastfeeder in the video bears a strong resemblance to a woman named Taylor Watson, an artist, songwriter, and content creator. Watson previously went viral for appearing in a bizarre “food hack” video in which she showed off how to make nachos by pouring toppings, such as cheese sauce and guacamole, onto a counter. Watson hasn’t posted the cat …….