Catfish UK Welcomes Julie Adenuga and Oobah Butler: “Manipulating People Online Has Never Been So Easy” | Television

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isIf evidence was needed on the cultural significance of Catfish, the 2010 US documentary that explored deception in online dating, the clue is in the name. The film follows a loving Nev Schulman as he tries to track down the 19-year-old girl he thinks he’s talking to on Facebook (she turns out to be a 40-year-old married woman). The film was turned into a hit reality TV show on MTV, credited with introducing the word “catfish” into the popular lexicon.

“Catfish” describes the use of a fictitious or fictitious online character for fraudulent or deceptive purposes (the person committing the deception is the catfish). On the TV show, Schulman and his team help others unmask their lovers online, often with shocking results (my favorite endings include one where a wife learns that her husband is the catfish and one couple cheat on her. show by paying for their tickets to meet).

The show’s eighth season ended in the US earlier this year – and this month the UK is getting its own take on it. Enter catfish hunters Julie Adenuga and Oobah Butler. This is the first television presentation either has made, but they are well known in their fields: Adenuga is an established radio personality, while Butler is a journalist and documentary maker who made the news when his hoax restaurant, The Shed at Dulwich, has become the top. – a restaurant rated in London on Tripadvisor.

Like the American series, Catfish UK manages to feel entertaining and authentic. There’s a production team that helps Adenuga and Butler close the deal, and the episodes are edited for beat, but none of the presenters know where the story will end. Their answers are real, and so is their joke-filled report – because, like any great TV show about a detective duo, the show is as much about their partnership as it is about solving the mystery.

Adenuga is an outspoken empath who knows how to talk to people in distress (and how to tease Butler), while Butler is the irreverent snooper, proponent of a blossoming of verbosity and, as seen in the series, a portion of chips . I spoke to them in the middle of filming the first season to learn more about the ups and downs of catching catfish – and why the lockdown has exacerbated online fraud.

Some people would describe Catfish as a pleasure, partly a public service, as the myriad ways people get it wrong online. Does that sound correct to you?

Oobah Butler: The first episode is about Emma, ​​who’s in love with a guy who says he’s in the Navy. They did not speak by video, except for a short call, but it was enough to lower his defenses. If you can’t trust video calling – the method we’ve been using to talk to our parents for the past year – then I think that’s pretty upsetting. I was so grateful to Emma that she was ready to share her story – it felt like public service.

When I first heard of the UK show, I thought to myself, ‘But don’t we know all the ways people can fish us out? »Are there any surprises in this version?

Julie Adenuga: I had the same thought. But the fact that people know the internet so well is why cat fishing is still going on – there are new tools out there and more people know how to use them. There are a lot of surprises in the show. We’ve had episodes where I think we’re matchmakers and will be invited to the wedding, and there have been times I’ve been brought to tears and lost my temper.

OB: Watching the American show, you might tend to think cheating was easier because the United States is so big and living in a state can be so far away. But sometimes proximity doesn’t matter. In one case, the catfish was one of the people closest to the person. I’d say it’s easier than ever to manipulate someone online – especially during the pandemic, where everyone is suddenly using social media 10 times more. The pernicious thing about cat fishing –

AND: Ooh, that’s a new, pernicious word, what does that mean?

OB: Like, kind of evil.

AND: OK, I’ll add it to my Word folder. You were saying?

OB: The pernicious thing about cat fishing is that you often end up pushing people who can help you out. While doing the show, I learned that catfish can end up isolating their targets.

Tell me about the motivations of the catfish. Why do people do the?

AND: The case that pissed me off the most, but also the easiest for me to understand, was when the catfish felt abandoned and not listened to. They did it to prove a point. I learned throughout this show that everyone has a reason.

OB: The question of why you would want catfish is why I did this show – I really didn’t know. We’re all so used to playing different versions of ourselves: one version for LinkedIn, another for TikTok. Julie, you spoke [Instagram] filters and become familiar with a different version of yourself. It makes us all catfish, in a way.

Oobah Butler and Julie Adenuga, with Nev Schulman on video
Flying the Flag… Oobah Butler and Julie Adenuga, with show creator Nev Schulman, on video. Photographie: Joe Wright / MTV

Oobah, working on that show made you think differently about hoaxes in your documentaries?

OB: I worked in restaurants and bars and my sister managed places; when someone left a one star review, they got it in the neck. So seeing the power of Tripadvisor and then finding out that a lot of stuff was bullshit and that there were companies set up to mine the rankings interested me in exposing this lie.

The penny dropped for me when people came to eat. They sat on lawn chairs outside a shed in Dulwich where I lived and objectively ate bad food from Iceland. Then, because of what they had read online, they tried to book again. People trust what they read online more than what they put in their mouths. But I always tried to be specific and to address a system rather than a person, if that made sense.

You both have significant social media followers – has your work on the show changed your perspective on your profiles?

AND: In fact, I’m really good at keeping my limits and making sure what I put online is business. Whereas Oobah is a nice guy who talks to everyone. [To Butler] Have you changed

OB: Absolutely. On one of the first shoots, I went to get some crisps. While we are on set, we are the chain’s responsibility, so we have the security that needs to know where we are. I had left my phone at the hotel, and just from what I had posted on my page, they were able to find out which chip shop I was in. I always say it could be me to be cat fished, because I really want to trust people.

One of my favorite things about the show is the bond between you two. Did you know each other before doing the show?

AND: No, we met during screen testing. I remember one asked who our favorite dinner guests were. I said Jim Carrey, Tracee Ellis Ross and a few other people. But then Oobah is dating people I’ve literally never heard of. Jürgen something –

OB: Klopp. I also said Marina Abramovic.

AND: And then you said “Macca” and I thought, “Who the hell is Macca? It’s Paul McCartney, apparently. I was like, “This guy is on another planet for me.” But my favorite thing about Oobah is that we balance ourselves out. We both know we’re not going to walk away from a case.

OB: We spend time with the people who ask for our help, so we always make sure it’s an emotionally satisfying and safe place to leave that person.

AND: And we both care about people – as in the idea of ​​people, of society. I couldn’t have picked a better team. [To Butler] I think you’re brilliant, mate.

OB: I think you’re awesome too, Jules.

AND: Hopefully we can do a season two. I haven’t finished traveling to UK.

OB: And I haven’t finished forcing chips on you.

Catfish UK kicks off on MTV at 9 p.m. on April 21

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