HELLO DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!
UPDATE: Geek Dad claims to have contacted the original authorwith dubious results. As in he did not confirm the story was true, but said the parents “had a laugh.” This week a lot of people are sharing a “story” that originated on Imgur/Reddit:
Letter a friend of mine’s daughter received from school today. Her Wonder Woman lunchbox features a violent super hero that does not comply with the school’s dress code. Pictures of the lunchbox are also attached. (m.imgur.com)
Along with a letter. purportedly from the school board, telling the parent that little Laura’s Wonder Woman lunchbox promoted violence, was a picture of said lunchbox — and gasp, horror it was a benign Wonder Woman item seemingly based on that Jose Luis Garcia Lopez style guide everyone was gushing about the other day. Good god! Political correctness run amok! Are we raising a generation of pansies, think of the children blah blah.
All based on a single unsourced, uncredited photo posted by a user who has since deleted their account. A poster who wasn’t even the parent but “A friend.” I mean, come on.
When I first saw this I was outraged for about two seconds before I began wondering “Why does a little girl have an old 70s lunchbox?” I thought about linking for a minute but then thought, nah, I’ll wait until the parents come out and the school comes out and people actually talk about this because Day 2 stories are usually way more interesting any way.
And that never happened.
Because there never was any letter from a school about little Laura’s lunchbox.
The whole thing is a hoax. Or a joke. I’ll let Snopes explain:
Atypically for a virally popular story such as this one, no one involved has stepped forward (even anonymously) to provide more detail. Commonly in instances when a story such as this one this spreads from blog to blog, the individuals behind the story (who, in this instance, would have little to lose) supply additional background about it. In this instance, the original user apparently deleted the post rather than court the attention that follows moderate blogosphere fame.
Oddly, the letter itself was addressed not to Mr./Mrs./Ms. Lastname, but to “Daniel and Sarah.” Not only does the use of first names not match general conventions for school-to-parent correspondence, but exceptionally-common first names provide more of a barrier to fact-checking than the use of a surname. (All the images appeared to have been photographed by the original poster, who did not explain how they came to be in possession of both the letter and a friend’s child’s beloved Wonder Woman lunch box.)
Moreover, the Wonder Woman lunch box shown in the photograph is made of metal (a style of school lunch tote that has fallen out of favor). Unsubstantiated rumors hold that a metal lunch box ban has been in effect in schools since at least the 2000s; and while that may or may not be true in individual school districts, a browse of current lunch box offerings suggests that even plastic, hard-sided boxes have ceded market share to soft, zippered totes. By contrast, metal lunch boxes are primarily sold as collectibles or novelties in most retail markets.
I’ll reiterate again that THE ORIGINAL POSTER WASN’T EVEN ONE OF THE PARENTS. It was “a friend.” A friend. Seriously, how do people fall for this malarkey? This story has been read millions of times, and how many times do you think this post or the Snopes post will be shared or read?
This had actually been much on my mind today and I was going to write something but then I came across something I wrote two years ago that said the exact same thing. Okay, good call on Ultron/Jarvis, that much is true. But the rest isn’t. I’ll remind people here that I only run stories that pass my sniff test or have been authenticated in some way. Of course I make mistakes, but at least I didn’t tut tut and shake my head over some bozo’s plan to promote his vintage lunchbox. And now a call to action, because today I’m shameless. If you want to support independent journalism that doesn’t just pick up headlines from viral content farms, consider giving a buck or two to the Beat’s Patreon. Every dollar does help, whether allowing me more time to work on this site, allowing me to pay people to help with the site, or to reinvest in updates and backups. I’ll never, ever get rich doing this, but it hasn’t stopped me yet.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.