Mother steals daughter’s identity; poses as cheerleader

Mother steals daughter’s identity; poses as cheerleader

This was an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but it involved witchcraft and turning people into rats. And yet, it was still a more believable story than this.

Which brings to light an emerging pattern. Besides the absurdity of the current political season, there is at least one other thing that I can’t seem to stop thinking about: adults masquerading as children, a phenomenon which actually makes some sense.

Armin Tamzarian’s reign of terror is over.

Armin Tamzarian’s reign of terror is over.

Christopher Chance, or the Human Target, is a DC Comics character, later given a Vertigo ongoing series written by Peter Milligan. An actor/detective/bodyguard, Chance could impersonate virtually anyone, needing only some prosthetics and the time to study the lives they lead. His “clients,” or personalities, ranged from an imposing African-American preacher to a Major League baseball player. The series obviously dealt with the issues of identity and so remains a favorite of mine.

It posed a particular question that has always fascinated me: can a human being be reconstructed only through secondary sources? Say you died1 and your body, for whatever reason, was not retrievable2. In this hypothetical, there exists a machine capable of transferring thoughts into a waiting body4. If your family, loved ones and enemies were interviewed and all your belongings catalogued5 and rifled through and the resulting glut of information was set to percolate in this machine, could the resulting product be called “you7“?

Human Target only ran for three years, but it managed to stay fresh and end on a satisfying note in 2006. Which is why I was so surprised when I discovered last week that it was based on a true story.

This New Yorker article is almost prohibitively long to read online, but it is such a sad and bizarre story that it’s worth it. The jist? Up until his thirties, a Frenchman named Frédéric Bourdin assumed the identities of dead or missing children all around Europe and later in the U.S., and got away with it, at least for a while. He did this several times. He fooled schools, orphanages and even families. So I guess the moral of the story is anyone in your life can be a French impostor and you’d have no way of knowing. Sleep tight everyone8.

1 Better yet don’t. If you don’t say it out loud, it might not happen. That’s how it works, right?

2 Autoerotic defenestration is no joke. The more you know3.

3 The less you care.

4 Hobos finally found their calling.

5 Even those. Especially those. Could a life without your SpongeBob anal beads even be called living6.

6 Gives a whole new meaning to SquarePants.

7 Answer: probably.

8 Don’t let the punaise des lits bite.


(via kottke)