Thursday, October 28, 2010

Argentina Gnome - Creepy Reality? Or Just a Hoax?

Ghosts get all the press.  Every paranormal show on Discovery Channel is poltergeist this, and haunted that.

We like to read about vampires, werewolves, and witches.  Some of us even like to pretend that they're real.  So when evidence of non-ghostly supernatural folklore appears in the media, it catches my attention.

In 2008, the small town of Guemes, Argentina gained notoriety when The Sun (UK) reported that a gnome had been captured on film. According to The Sun, locals had been plagued by this little gnome for some time.  The boys who captured this video were minding their own business when they heard a sound, as if someone where throwing rocks.  When Jose Alvarez, who had been playing around with his phone camera, saw a movement in the grass, he pointed it towards the sound.  And that's when he captured the gnome:

Now The Sun is not always known for its reliable reporting.  It's sort of a mix between an American celebrity tabloid and a real newspaper, focusing on real news and politics, alongside gossip.  It is also the 10th highest circulated paper in the world.  This makes it, as a source, somewhat questionable... but also potentially reliable. So I did a little more digging.

You might be wondering why they believe in gnomes, traditionally a Norse myth, halfway across the world in Argentina.  Well they don't believe in gnomes exactly -- that's The Sun's choice of translation.  Their word for fairy or goblin is "duende", which combines Mayan, Portuguese,
and Spanish fairy mythologies.  And some believe they wear "large hats", tho not necessarily pointy ones.

There are several other films, and you can find even more if you search for duende instead of gnome.

Then I found an oddity. A version of the famous film, listed by a number of Spanish-speaking YouTube users, but this one has subtle differences that indicate The Sun version is edited:

This version contains different lighting, a flashlight beam that bounces off the gnome from time to time.  And the strange gait of the gnome in this version is somehow less convincing.  It looks like The Sun did some kind of editing, which makes this video less believable.  Or at least less creepy.

And finally, the most interesting footage of all, was of a much smaller gnome. Watch this, and then watch it again and notice the small dark spot that looks like a crack in the wall. If you imagine a gnome-shaped piece of paper being pulled by a string, you can easily see how this video is most likely a hoax:

To me, this video indicates that at least one group of kids thought a hoax would would be fun to try to pull off.  Which casts doubt on all the other videos.

Nevertheless, if this blog post on has any credibility, belief in duendes is strong in the region, with many people claiming to have seen them, much like Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest and ghosts throughout the US.  For that reason, we can expect to see more footage of South American gnomes, be they real or hoaxed.

And speaking of gnomes living in modern cities, I've written a short story called "The Metro Gnome", which will appear in this month's Indie Urban Fantasy Newsletter. Be sure to sign up!

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