AVRIL Lavigne is dead and has been replaced by a lookalike called Melissa — according to the internet.
Two years ago the bizarre theory began to circulate that the 32-year-old singer had killed herself in April 2003 following the death of her grandfather, The Sun reports.
Over the weekend a fan named “givincyass” reignited the rumours in a Twitter thread that has since been liked and retweeted nearly a quarter of a million times.
so she decided to hire a look alike to walk around LA for her and pose for the paparazzi (avril on the left, look alike on the right) pic.twitter.com/wNSrDVh09i
— (@givenchyass) May 13, 2017
The original theory says that because Avril rose to fame when she was just 18-years-old, her record label employed lookalike and “best friend” Melissa Vandella to impersonate her for the paparazzi as the “real Avril” struggled to deal with attention.
Then when Avril “died” in 2003 at the height of her career, label bosses decided to cover up her death and continue to release songs by Avril, but using Melissa instead.
Social researcher Lauren Rosewarne from the University of Melbourne said conspiracy theories that blow up over the internet were based on the same formula as a “chain letter”.
“This person forwards it to six people, who each forward it to another six … so you’ve got that scale of something that would get out of control very, very quickly,” she said.
To make it worth going viral, Dr Rosewarne said a conspiracy theory must have the “right ingredients” — namely some humour, a celebrity and the right setting.
HOW AVRILGATE TRANSPIRED
— A (@ashlynnktigner) May 14, 2017
Theorists have analysed the shape of Avril’s nose, her autograph and her voice — which they claim has had a different tone and been increasingly out of tune since 2003.
While Avril’s second album Under My Skin is thought to be a “subliminal message” from the fake Avril — who even once posed with the name Melissa written on her hand.
A blogger said: “Launched in 2004, it is completely different to the first CD! It’s an album full of subliminal messages apparently left by the ‘New Avril’.
— the sweetest heart (@privatelaprip) May 14, 2017
“The CD is called ‘Avril Under My Skin’, this is very suggestive! From here it was no longer true Avril, but ‘Avril Lavigne’ under the skin of another singer!
“The ‘New Avril’ poses for photos always sad and morbid expression, sometimes dropped to the ground as if to say something.”
As the rumours flooded the internet once again this weekend, one fan echoed many by announcing: “This is a case for the FBI.”
Even when the singer tweeted her mum to wish her “Happy mother’s day,” yesterday the responses from fans included: “”Happy Mother’s Day, Melissa” and “Melissa, it’s OK. We’re here for you.”
And it’s not just physical features that users believe have changed — others are were suspicious when Avril promoted a slimming bar as a “yummy and healthy snack.”
One user pointed out: “Avril Lavigne would never promote a Slim Secret bar. The jig is up Melissa.”
Of course the singer is very much alive, but has been battling Lyme disease since 2015 and also went through a painful divorce from Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger.
EMBRACING ALTERNATIVE FACTS
In an era where traditional sources of news and information are being questioned, Dr Rosewarne said people are more accepting of alternative sources of “information”.
“Conspiracy theories are part of this,” she said.
“The internet has been the perfect medium for the distribution of false information: very quickly a stupid — but often highly entertaining — story can be effortlessly distributed far and wide.
“Conspiracy stories — particularly ones involving celebrities — are entertaining and often ridiculous enough that they get circulated because they are amusing.”