A sexist rant falsely attributed to Keanu Reeves keeps coming back

What is the appeal of this statement falsely attributed to the famous actor? Some clichéd critique of "materialism of modern times", and some straightforward sexism.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
A sexist rant falsely attributed to Keanu Reeves keeps coming back - NewsMavens
Keanu Reeves, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Since 2016, numerous web portals in the Balkans have published a misogynistic essay attributed to Keanu Reeves, with statements such as this (from the original English version):

“I cannot be part of a world where men dress their wives as prostitutes by showing everything that should be cherished. (...) Where men and women are no longer ago identifiable and where all this together is called freedom of choice, but for those who choose a different path-get branded as retarded despots.” 

Saying that a woman is dressed "by her husband" like a mannequin, let alone the additional "prostitute" remark, would be something quite out of character for the actor. But even if you never heard of Reeves, the bad English is enough of a clue that the statement didn't come from him. 

When "Snopes" fact checked it in 2016, they traced its origin to a ridiculous Youtube montage, showing footage of Reeves with a voice over in Russian. Again, a rather obvious fake.

But the made up and poorly written "very deep thoughts" clearly appealed to many. A Facebook page “The scientific miracles of Islam” holds one of the earliest mentions. Religious websites like “Novi Horizonti” (New Horizons) and “Svjetlo Dunjaluka” (The light of this world), both from Bosnia, kept the initial religious context, with headlines such as these:

“ACTOR KEANU REEVES EXPLAINED WHAT THE MUSLIMS HAVE KNOWN FOR MORE THAN 1400 YEARS”

“ACTOR KEANU REEVES STARTED THINKING LIKE A MUSLIM, READ WHAT HE SAID”

Other headlines, mostly appearing in tabloids from Serbia and Bosnia, had little or no connection to a religious interpretation of the actor’s made up words (and a lot of appreciation for the sexist parts):

HE HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD: KEANU REEVES SHOOK THE WORLD WITH A POWERFUL MESSAGE

Keanu Reeves: Where you can’t tell women and men apart for years and where all this is called freedom of choice

KEEANU REEVES PUBLISHED A STRONG MESSAGE: Where women don’t want children and men don’t want a family?

The usual recklesness with which false news is distributed is not the most disturbing thing here. It's the fact that so many people liked it and rushed to compliment Reeves for "speaking the truth". Accompanied, predictably, with laments over the "good old days" -- apparently, the days when women were treated like property.

Details from the story:

  • The made up statement has also been a subject of fact check by “Politifact” in 2016.
  • “Politifact” has reached out to Reeves’s publicist, who told them that the actor isn’t present on social media and that the quote is made up.
  • They’ve requested that Facebook remove the fan page which published the fake quote. It has since been deleted.
  • Only two of the Bosnian media sources which published the false statement have corrected the mistake and deleted the articles after the fact check was published in the local language.
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