Mommyish says its writers “combine a thirst for the latest parenting news and trends with a tongue in cheek approach to childrearing.” I guess in following that approach, it was only natural that Mommyish gravitate toward a story entitled “Japanese Teens Are Licking Each Other’s Eyeballs And Giving Each Other Sexy Sexy Pinkeye.” The title pretty much sums up the article, which tells about a bizarre eye licking trend among Japanese school kids, based on a report published on the Japanese website, Naver Matome.
It’s a weird phenomenon that sounded just a little too strange to journalist Mark Schreiber. Writing in the Number One Shimbun, Schreiber takes a good hard look at the source of Naver Matome’s story. It turns out to be Butch (Bucchi) News, a questionable website produced by Core Magazine. Core is a less-than-reputable institution whose offices, Schreiber notes, were “raided by police on suspicion of obscenity last April.” Not only that, the editor of one of Core’s biggest magazines, Schreiber points out, “had the distinction of becoming the first person in Japan arrested under new laws banning child pornography.” The Tokyo-based scribe says that “knowing the background of the story’s publisher didn’t instill much confidence in its veracity.” After calling a couple of Japanese ophthalmological associations to confirm the reported pinkeye outbreak triggered by the eye licking craze, he discovered, “none of them had the faintest idea of what I was talking about.” Now that does sound strange.
Call me a little sensitive but as a parent of a Japanese adolescent, this story really hit home. I’m pretty certain no parent anywhere in the world would want to have his or her child looked upon through a distorted lens like the one held up by Naver Matome or Butch News. On its website, Mommyish tells its readers, “the decisions we make for our kids and families are sensitive ones. We don’t claim to have this whole parenting thing figured out. And we don’t expect you to either.” It’s a good philosophy and one I hope Mommyish will use to take a second look at this story, figure out what its source is all about, and decide to identify this “trend” as the sordid hoax it really is.
If you want a real eye-opener, take a look at "Lick This!" by Mark Schreiber and read how the tale of a fake fad made in Japan made its way into the pages of newspapers, magazines, and more all around the world.
Also see: "In the Public Eye" on Snopes.com
Related MediaBugs reports (the same error repeated over and over again):
Look Twice! (Morning Journal); Less than Meets the Eye (Denver Post); Shangheyed (Business Insider); Exploding a Media Myth (TNT); Poke in the Eye (The New Age); Weird Science (Science World Report); A Funny Sounding Story (AOL News); Fox Takes Eye off Eyeball Story (Fox 29 News, Philadelphia) Eye Network Loses Sight of Facts (CBS Atlanta); In the Shadow of Doubt (Toronto Sun); The Hot Trend That's Not (PIX 11 News, New York); Houston We Have a Problem (KRIV-TV, Fox 26 in Houston, Texas); The Spread (Houston Chronicle); Seeing Eye to Eye (Huffington Post/UK edition); Eye Witless News Report (ABC News); UPI Out of Focus (United Press International); Another Code Brown! (Medical Daily); Entertaining... Licks Telling the News (ABC2 News, WMAR-TV, Baltimore); Didn't Get the Memo (New Zealand Herald); Here is the Thing (MSN News Canada) Fatal Error (CTV News Canada); Time to Correct? (Time Magazine); More Than Meets the Eye (New York Post); A Cock-eyed Story (New York Daily News); Faking It (Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard); Bucking the Trend That Wasn't (The Times of India); If You Can't Lick 'Em Join 'Em (Fox News); Not a Lick of Truth (The Telegraph); Eye Network Lacks Nose for Fishy Stories (CBS News); Calling Out the Daily Caller (The Daily Caller); Code Brown (Medical News Today); Gawk at This! (Gawker); Not a Thing (The San Francisco Chronicle); Less Than Meets the Eye (The Guardian); A Blind Eye to the Truth (Huffington Post); Falling for a Fake Story... (The Washington Times)
Fixed/Updated (in abc order by news organization)
Shangheyed (Business Insider); Gawk at This! (Gawker); A Blind Eye to the Truth (Huffington Post); Another Code Brown! (Medical Daily); Code Brown (Medical News Today); Exploding a Media Myth (TNT); Not a Lick of Truth (The Telegraph)
Disappeared (story scrubbed clean off reporting news organization's website):
Eve Vawter got back to me right away to let me know that the story would be updated. She followed through with a quick and clever fix that definitely doesn't disappoint readers.