Darwin Awards are widely known nowadays. They are awarded to those who lose their life in the most idiotic way possible and thus, thankfully remove themselves from the gene pool of humanity.
Every year the world comes to know about new Darwin Award winners from glossy magazines and entertaining websites. But only few people know that most so-called ‘winners’ have never existed. A considerable part of all these stories is just a figment of the imagination, modern folklore, so to speak.
Darwin Awards founders would undoubtedly get Certificate of Honor or Audience Choice Award, if they participate in some PR or Creative Ideas Championship. This idea to bring together such stories could not be unsuccessful. On the one hand, unusual death has been always drawing attention. On the other hand, even an absolute fool is happy to know that there are many other stupid individuals in the world.
Meanwhile, Darwin Awards do not simply represent a mere collection of funny stories. The awards are determined by strict rules and regulations.
As it is generally known, Charles Darwin was one of the Theory of Evolution founders. He considered natural selection to be the major evolution’s driving force: weak and stupid individuals die, strong and clever species survive and procreate, and their descendants inherit their force and intellect.
Modern people are not as vulnerable as they were thousands years ago, that is why natural selection has stalled a bit. Nowadays, even the most stupid and weakest homo sapiens can not only survive but also procreate if they are a little bit resourceful.
The only exclusion is those idiots who lose their lives (or ability to reproduce) before they give birth to creatures like them. Thus, they do a service to humanity – their genes are practically worthless.
Thereby, this is the award for those people who remove themselves from the gene pool of humanity. The majority of winners are awarded posthumously, but there are some geezers who manage to lose their reproductive organs in a queer way.
Most awards have founders or at least the year of foundation. But it has nothing to do with the Darwin Award. It has authentically public origin.
The thing is that the Darwin Awards have no precise foundation date. It was first mentioned in 1985, when a PC user published a funny story in one of the Internet-preceding computer networks. The story told of a man willing to pull the Coca-Cola bottle out of the vending machine and died when the machine turned over him.
Five years later, a Usenetter send a story about an ex-pilot to all his friends by e-mail. The unlucky pilot attached an aircraft jet engine to his car and made his way through the Arizona desert. He hurtled against the cliff at 900 km/h. Only ill-starred pilot’s teeth could be found on the scene of the crash.
In 1990 this story was not a great success, but in 1995 anyone who will take the trouble sent it each other. The poor devil was adjudged Darwin Awards that very year. However, it became evident pretty soon that there had never been a car with jet engine. Specialists in urban legends, a very popular genre of American folklore, found out that this joke was known in the middle 1960. Arizona police officials complained thirty years after when journalists and tourists haunted them and wanted to see that very unsuccessful pilot’s cliff.
First e-mail messages containing stories about the most stupid deaths appeared back in 1991. A couple of years later first Darwin Awards websites appeared. It was the site owner who chose which stories to publish. There was no single award committee, and all the stories were rather doubtful.
Wendy Northcutt, an enterprising American woman, changed the course of events in 1994. She was only 21 when she decided to create DarwinAwards.Com website where her own list of nominees was published. As Wendy was quite busy with her academic career at Stanford University, this site was something like a hobby at first. But soon it proved to be very popular in comparison with its competitors. Wendy understood that the new site was a real gold mine, gave up science and got into the Darwin Awards. She patented this word combination as a trade mark.
From the very beginning anyone could adjudge the award, now Wendy (or Miss Darwin, as she names herself sometimes) has everything at hands. She has already published four best sellers, established an e-shop with Darwin Awards souvenirs, and Darwin Awards feature film was released in 2006. By the way, a notorious tale about rocket-car is reflected in this film.
Nowadays Wendy has become a mass media star, her business is prospering, leading American newspapers are always eager to interview her. So, she regrets not a bit that she traded science for Darwin Awards.
For the time being, the 2007 Internet Darwin Awards voting is in full play. Two 21-year-old American teenagers are temporary leaders now. They climbed up to the roof to have sex. The only thing they did not take into account was the steep slope of the roof. They should have been more careful while having extreme sex: the next morning saw their naked bodies in the middle of the street.
The official Darwin Awards website runs that only those idiots whose senseless but beautiful death is documentary confirmed can take part in the competition. But it is not always so. That very story about rocket-car is still circulating in Internet as trustworthy, although it has already become an urban legend on the official site.
Many other sensational stories have also proved to be a pure invention. For instance, in 1998 the story about a German zoo keeper spread all over the Internet. He gave a large dose of laxative to an elephant suffering from constipation and then tried to clysterize the animal. At this very moment the purgative took effect, and the poor keeper was knocked down. He hit his head on the ground, fainted and soon choked with elephant faeces.
Many Russian editions still include a story about Friedrich Riesfeldt and his elephant Stefan in their articles about Darwin Awards. This tale was first published in Weekly World News in 1998. This American tabloid is known to fabricate most of its articles(for instance, Hillary Clinton adopted a little alien, etc). Meticulous specialists have already found out that there had never been any zoo in Paderborn.
Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina