Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick compared the hoax involving his star linebacker Manti Te'o and the death of the football player's fictional girlfriend to the TV show "Catfish."
The news that Te'o's online relationship was found to be what Swarbrick called at a press conference on Wednesday an "elaborate hoax" broke Wednesday night and left bloggers and news sites drawing comparisons to filmmaker Nev Schulman's MTV docu-drama.
The show chronicles people being duped by online relationships where the other person turns out to be fictitious.
In one episode, bubbly college girl Sunny tells Schulman she has been chatting with male model Jamison online for eight months. They initially began talking on Facebook, and would text and message back and forth, but had never met in person. After some investigative work by Schulman and his team, Jamison is revealed to be a bisexual girl named Chelsea.
Other subjects on the show had been involved in these relationships for years before learning the truth.
Schulman's own experience was the subject of a 2010 documentary of the same name. In it, Schulman, a photographer and documentary filmmaker based in New York City, begins a correspondence with a woman from Michigan named Megan. After months of flirty text messages and long phone conversations, Schulman surprises Megan by traveling to her home in Michigan and finds out that Megan is really Angela, a middle-aged wife and mother.
Of the current Te'o controversy, Schulman said it just shows that these types of things can happen to anyone.
"My reaction is, quite frankly, no different from my reaction on the show." he told The Hollywood Reporter
. "It doesn't really change anything for me that this victim is a high-profile football player."
Schulman has vowed to help Te'o get to the bottom of his "Catfish" experience, vowing on Twitter to "get the truth."
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