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U.S. Sorry About David Hasselhoff Experiment
WASHINGTON (CAP) - The U.S. government has apologized for a series of experiments during the late 1980's and '90s in which federal researchers used propaganda and other indoctrination techniques to artificially inflate the popularity of marginal celebrity David Hasselhoff throughout Germany, Austria and other European locations. The State Department issued a statement yesterday calling the practice "unethical."
"Although the events in question occurred more than a decade ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have happened under the guise of entertainment," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "We deeply regret that it took place, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent singing and acting."
TV historian David Thomson uncovered the experiment, which was apparently conducted to test whether informational social influence could be contrived to create a celebrity out of a persona with no discernable talent or skill. Specific European countries were targeted based on decreased levels of American influence in the popular culture of those locations.
"We call it the Plymouth Rock Syndrome: all hype, no substance," said Thomson. "Except where people who visit the supposed landing place of the Pilgrims never go back because it's just a randomly selected rock with '1620' carved into it, the Germans fell for the Hoff hype hook, line and sinker.
"As unscrupulous as the Hoff experiments were, they were also wildly successful beyond anything the researchers could have imagined," added Thomson. "They had essentially created a test tube celebrity."
Documentation dating as far back as 1985 shows that researchers had also given thought to using Eddie Murphy or Patrick Swayze for the experiment, both of whom had questionable singing talent. However, they ultimately went with Hasselhoff after watching a few episodes of Knight Rider and realizing that both Murphy and Swayze could actually act.
"There's only one explanation why an actor of Edward Mulhare's caliber would agree to appear on a show like Knight Rider," said CAP News TV critic Marc Price. "Here's a man who cut his chops on TV classics like Battlestar Galactica, Hart To Hart and Murder, She Wrote, and yet agrees to star in 84 episodes of this cheesy show?
"You won't find it written anywhere, but he was obviously in on the experiment," Price concluded.
Hasselhoff, however, was not. According to the papers discovered by Thomson, he was "an unwitting pawn led to believe in his own faux competency based on manufactured popularity." Hasselhoff eventually learned of his role in the experiments, which close friends say contributed to his 2006 divorce from actress Pamela Bach. It also led to a severe drinking problem that culminated in the 2007 home video that showed him drunk on the floor trying to eat a cheeseburger and being named captain of the U.S. Celebrity Beer Pong Team.
"This case of unethical human subject research represents an appalling example from a dark time in the history of entertainment," said Shelly Palmer, President of the NY chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. "And although we'd like to believe this sort of thing can't happen today, our investigation into Disney's treatment of its child stars may tell us otherwise."
Although Hasselhoff has attempted to legitimize his place in Hollywood with roles such as his recent stint as a judge on America's Got Talent, pundits say the scars may never fully heal on a legacy tainted for the sake of science.
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