Where were you when iconic punk princess Avril Lavigne released her debut album? If you were like most young millennials in 2002, you were probably screaming “Sk8r Boi” at the top of your lungs and coating half your face in black eyeliner.
Flash forward to 2013: Lavigne released anoverwhelming,kawaii-themed video for her track “Hello Kitty.” Not only was the video obnoxious and widely criticized for being fullofcultural appropriation, it was a total departure from Lavigne’soriginal work. “Complicated” Avril had exchanged her all-black wardrobe and signature guitar-smashing angst for bright pink miniskirts and bleached blonde hair. Why the dramatic change? Where wasskaterpunk Avril?
According to one widespread internet theory, the answer is that Lavigne is dead and has been replaced witha lookalike actress reportedly named Melissa Vandella. The theory was first postedin 2011on a Brazilian Lavigne fansite, but has continuallyresurfaced every few years to shock and horrify fans around the world.
In its most recent reincarnation, the theory was posted in a tweet thread Friday by Twitter user @givenchyass, who prefaces the thread with a necessary disclaimer:“I’m not sitting here being like ‘this is 100% facts’ it’s literally just a theory so calm down and miss me w that headass shit.”
avril lavigne is dead & was replaced by a look alike: a conspiracy theory thread pic.twitter.com/9eearQ2rte
— (@givenchyass) May 13, 2017
The basic gist of the theory is that Lavigne once hired Vandella, an actress, to face the paparazzi posing as Lavigne during her early days of fame. Lavigne, according to the Twitter thread, may have died bysuicide just after releasing Let Go in 2002, at the peak of her career. Following her death, Vandella took over Lavigne’s identity, which would explain the dramatic shift in the punk aesthetic. The thread, like internet theories before it, includes side-by-side comparisons of Lavigne’s earlier work with more contemporary releases.
here's a video I made comparing an avril song from 2002 to an avril song from 2014 pic.twitter.com/1KFZJ8cHnD
— (@givenchyass) May 13, 2017
Reactions to the thread include some detailed photo comparisons of Lavigneversus her supposed replacement. Some inconsistencies noted include her jawline, differences in handwriting, and the shape of her nose. Others pointed out that thesecould all be the results of plastic surgery.
— goth princess (@angeldelemuerte) May 14, 2017
— the sweetest heart (@privatelaprip) May 14, 2017
One speculation, proposed by Brazilian fans and again by Noisey in 2015, is that Lavigne’s doppelganger ever-so-subtly alluded toLavigne’s death in various lyrics from her2004 albumUnder My Skin.
— Kelly (@kellyblaus) May 14, 2017
Lavigne (or perhaps Melissa-turned-Avril?)has yet to reply publicly to the longstanding theory. Her latest tweet, postedSunday justafter her name started trending on Twitter, received responses calling out “Melissa.”
@AvrilLavigne I SEE YOU MELISSA YOU TRICK ASS BITCH
— Jack Mull (@J4CKMULL) May 15, 2017
No matter how convincing the theory seems, it’s important to remember that a millennial fave like Lavigne was practically made for meme-ing and outlandish conspiracies. She is, after all, married to the lead singer of Nickelback.
— alex romero (@whosalexander) May 14, 2017