Avril Lavigne is dead. She has been since 2003, after the release of her much-loved album Let Go, when she took her own life following the death of her grandfather. Immediately afterward, owing to Lavigne’s massive popularity, a lookalike actress by the name of Melissa Vandella was hired to assume her identity and carry on her career — a charade that continues to this day.
At least, so says a popular conspiracy theory, which, this week, has reemerged all over the internet. It has bubbled to the surface a number of times since 2003, but this time, thanks to Twitter user @givenchyass, it seems to be gaining more traction than ever before.
In a 50-tweet Twitterstorm, @givenchyass sought to reignite the idea that many peoples’ favorite early aughts pop star is, in fact, a living lie. In a sequence of narration and side-by-side photos, @givenchyass made the case for why the Avril Lavigne of today is actually Melissa Vandella.
One tweet even took the form of a video comparison.
The changes to Lavigne’s look and musical style between 2003 and 2007 are among the most cited evidence in support of the theory.
The furor caught on, spawning #notmyavril as more users add their own voices or dissenting opinions to the growing debate.
Still unclear, however, is who exactly Melissa Vandella is, besides a corporate-funded Avril Lavigne impersonator. Bustle reports that Vandella has not one single verified social media account, nor an IMDb page. One Twitter account (minus the official check mark) claiming to be Vandella has her alleged name spelled incorrectly in its bio.
As a result, the claim that Vandella is even a real person to begin with is a dubious one, unless you’re willing to believe that the same people who gave her Lavigne’s life also took great — arguably impossible — pains to erase all evidence of her previous life. But that still hasn’t stopped people from latching onto any inconsistency with the old Avril that they think they’ve found.
The verified Avril Lavigne, for her part, is still perfectly active on Twitter. She most recently posted a selfie with her mother on Mother’s Day. Despite the urgency with which some of Lavigne’s fans appear to want to get to the bottom of things — and as entertaining as internet conspiracies can sometimes be — it seems highly unlikely that the real Avril Lavigne is anything but alive and well.