Creative Activism

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Arabic Graffiti on TV’s Homeland: The Writing’s on the Wall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks

Street Artists Infiltrate ‘Homeland’ With Subversive Graffiti
by Dan Bilefsky and Mona Boshnaq
The New York Times
October 15, 2015

On TV's "Homeland," artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show "racist."

On TV’s “Homeland,” artists hired to add authenticity to a Syrian refugee-camp set scrawled Arabic graffiti messages declaring the show “racist.”


LONDON — In a recent episode of Showtime’s hit series “Homeland,” the former C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison is escorted by a Hezbollah militant past a wall in a fictional Syrian refugee camp covered with Arabic graffiti.

Attentive viewers who read Arabic, however, might have noticed something awry. Among the messages spray-painted on the walls: “ ‘Homeland’ is racist,” “There is no ‘Homeland’ ” and “ ‘Homeland’ is not a show.”

The subversive messages seemingly escaped the notice of the producers of the television series.

On Wednesday, an Egyptian artist, Heba Y. Amin, and two other artists, Caram Kapp and Stone, took credit for the graffiti, saying it was a subtle protest of false and misleading stereotypes in the series, which has been heavily criticized for its portrayals of Muslims. (more…)

The Squicky Side of International Development

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Satire

JadedAid, a new party game derived in style and spirit from Cards Against Humanity, satirizes the international development industry in brutal and hilarious fashion.


Cards Against Humanitarians
by Iyla Lozofsky
Foreign Policy
September 28, 2015

Needless to say, this very serious industry has its very serious critics. But few are as creative (or as hilarious) as three young development professionals who, in the last few weeks, have chosen to express their discontent by self-publishing a satirical card game. JadedAid is modeled on the popular millennial game, Cards Against Humanity, in which players compete to select the funniest (or most vulgar) answers to a set of “fill-in-the-blank” questions. Just a week since its opening, the JadedAid KickStarter campaign has collected nearly twenty thousand dollars — far ahead of its creators’ targets — and the game is well on its way to completion. As an example of the kind of decidedly un-pc satire the game provides, here is one possible combination of cards:

Some of the card ideas were developed by the game’s inventors, who, all in their thirties, have extensive experience in the technology and communication side of the development industry. But the vast majority of the suggestions (nearly 800 at last count) were submitted by friends, colleagues, and anonymous development workers. One of the game’s co-founders, Jessica Heinzelman, 36, attributes the game’s immediate appeal to the need for development workers to “let off some steam” by subjecting their experiences in the field to mockery. (more…)

Art Project Causes Outrage and Reflection

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

University at Buffalo student hangs ‘White Only’ signs on campus, sparks outrage
by Melissa Chan
New York Daily News
September 18, 2015

Ashley Powell White Only sign art project
These “White Only” signs were hung near bathrooms at the University at Buffalo this week. Ashley Powell, a graduate art student, admitted to hanging the signs for a class art project. UBSPECTRUM.COM

Ashley Powell, 25, who is black, admitted to plastering the Jim Crow-esque signs near several bathrooms and water fountains in a dorm as an art project to express her struggles with being a minority in the U.S. and to “expose white privilege.”

“I am in pain,” the graduate student wrote in a lengthy explanation posted on Facebook and published by the UB student newspaper. “My art practice is a remnant of my suffering. White privilege and compliance only exacerbate my symptoms.”

Powell said she hung up the signs to see how many white people would see the signs and do something about it, although she claims it was not a “social experiment.”

“Today these signs may no longer exist, but the system that they once reinforced still does,” she wrote. “Any white person who would walk past these signs without ripping them down shows a disturbing compliance with this system.”

The signs, which Powell said were created with support from her professor and colleagues, caused a firestorm of controversy on campus. Students denounced the project as racist and a hate crime, ABC 27 reported. Read the whole story here.

Bible Studies for Kim Davis

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Filed under: Creative Activism, The Big One

Planting Peace Sends a Message to Kim Davis, September 11, 2015

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Following the June 26th Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality, Rowan County clerk Kim Davis refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses in her home state, citing that doing so compromised her religious beliefs. That day, she became the poster child for the anti-gay movement.

As has been painstakingly observed time and time again, the anti-LGBTQ movement is comprised of a substantial number of zealots who unfailingly refer to their rigid interpretation of religious text to narrowly define “traditional” institutions and values. They pick and choose what they wish to convey as immoral and unacceptable, while seemingly sweeping lines of scripture just a few letters away completely under the rug.

In response, Planting Peace has constructed a message for Kim Davis and the anti-LGBTQ movement. The intent of the billboard is to expose this narrow interpretation by Davis and others that they use to defend their discrimination against the LGBTQ community. It is important and relevant to call this out, because these messages and actions are not simply about a political or religious debate. There are LGBTQ youth across the world who are taking their lives at an alarming rate because of these messages from society that make them feel broken or less than. We have to meet hate with love…intolerance with compassion.

Our message to our LGBTQ youth is simple:
You are loved, valued, supported, and beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with you, and we will stand by you.
You are not alone.

Planting Peace

photo: Huffington Post


PAC-ing a Punch

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Parody

From W.J. Elvin: Not that it’s too difficult to find bizarre humor in politics today but here’s an interesting sidelight from former colleague Glenn Garvin.


Scamsters, jokers: this PAC’s for you
by Glenn Garvin
Miami Herald
September 5, 2015

Cats-for-a-better-tomorrow-200Finally it’s arrived: High-rolling fat-cat campaign finance for the rest of us! The days when it took Donald Trump’s bank account and a battalion of lawyers to buy and sell political candidates like bags of potatoes are behind us. Now anybody with access to a computer, 20 minutes to spare and a low boredom threshold can set up a political action committee to funnel unlimited campaign contributions to the issue or candidate of his choice, no matter how weird, prankish or — let’s be honest here —stupid.

Seriously — well, “seriously” is probably not exactly the right word, but you get it — nothing is too bizarre, too arcane or too ridiculous to have its own super PAC. If you’re sick of American politicians who badmouth Darth Vader, you can give money to The Empire Strikes PAC, which helps candidates who favor “the construction of a safer, more x-wing resistant Death Star.”

And if you grieve that we haven’t had a bewhiskered president in the 122 years since Benjamin Harrison left the White House, send all the money you want to Bearded Entrepreneurs for the Advancement of a Responsible Democracy (that’s right, BEARD PAC), which imperiously decrees that “the time is now to bring facial hair back into politics.”

And yes, there’s even a PAC for the uncounted hordes who believe Virginia psychologist Anna Hornberger’s cat Xavier would make a good president: the My Cat Xavier for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow PAC. (Even you dog people have to admit that a president who comes with a full-time shrink attached is an idea whose time may have arrived.)

When the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for Super PACS in 2010 with a pair of decisions — Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission and SpeechNOW.org v. Federal Elections Commission — that established the rights of Americans to make unlimited campaign contributions as long as they go to independent committees and not directly to candidates or political parties, some political scientists predicted disastrous corruption. Others foresaw a robust expansion of the First Amendment.

What nobody expected is that creating super PACS would turn into a sort of performance art that, depending on your perspective, either joyously celebrates or cynically mocks the American political system.

Read the rest of this article here.


Art of the Prank Movie is About to Launch!

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Filed under: Art of the Prank - the movie, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Prank News, Pranksters

Art of the Prank movie still

We’re excited!

Art of the Prank, the feature documentary film about the life and work of artist Joey Skaggs, produced and directed by Andrea Marini and co-produced by Judy Drosd, is nearing completion. Filmed in New York, London, Hawaii, Los Angeles, Kentucky & Tennessee, the movie, a story of true will and determination, follows Joey as he attempts to pull off the most challenging media hoax of his career.

The movie website is now live at http://artoftheprank-themovie.com.
The Facebook and Twitter pages are respectively at:
http://www.facebook.com/artoftheprankthemovie
http://twitter.com/aotp_themovie

Here’s the teaser trailer:

The plan is to submit the film to film festivals around the world and to begin showing it widely. We’re open to all forms of distribution so please share any ideas you have with us. You are very important to the success of this film. The more that our friends and colleagues spread the word, the more opportunities we’ll have to grow an audience. We’d love to have as many people see the film as possible.

There will be more news soon about some exciting screenings this Fall.


Why Hollywood Culture’s Outspoken (Fake) Mystery Critics Threw in the Towel Remains a Mystery

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Literary Hoaxes, Pranksters

Twitter’s ‘Mystery Hollywood’ implodes: @MysteryExec was a fake
by Josh Dickey
Mashable
August 20, 2015

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP Thumbnails

@MysteryExec, @MysteryVP thumbnails

The Twitter handle @MysteryExec, the most prominent voice in a small and tight-knit community of showbiz types who for years have tweeted anonymously, candidly and often about their batshit crazy profession, deleted his account sometime late Tuesday night. So did his sidekick, the tart-tongued @MysteryVP.

The reason: Mystery Executive is not an executive at all. Mystery VP is vice president of nothing.

They were catfish. And that’s too bad.

Multiple sources close to the people behind the accounts tell Mashable that @MysteryExec and @MysteryVP were a young male/female writing duo just trying to make it in Hollywood whose prank turned into a mini-phenomenon. What started as an outlet for their frustration turned into a movement that thousands of people, including this writer and dozens of prominent players in Hollywood, readily bought into.

And in recent months, as the ruse began to unravel, the entire Mystery showbiz-on-Twitter community began to crumble, too.

Read the whole story here.


Mike Huckabee Won’t Give You a Choice

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire, The Big One

From Erin:


Mike Huckabee guitar lessons

Inside the Center for Tactical Magic

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art

Here’s a rare glimpse behind the enigma of the legendary Center for Tactical Magic as founder Aaron Gach shares his background, philosophy, and success stories in this interview with Regine Debatty.


“Interview with The Center for Tactical Magic”
by Regine Debatty
We Make Money Not Art
August 14, 2015

The Center for Tactical Magic uses any craft and scheme available, from the most magical to the most pragmatic, to address issues of power relations and self-empowerment.

At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.

Tactical Ice Cream Unit

CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest. And a year before that, they responded to New York’s stop-and-frisk policy by screening Linking & Unlinking on a digital billboard in Manhattan. The billboard showed amateur footage demonstrating how to pick a pair of handcuffs, magicians performing a classic magic trick called “linking rings“, while a text from the American Civil Liberties Union was scrolling down and explaining passersby what their rights were if they were stopped by the police. In 2013, they set up big Witches’ Cradles that evoke the Inquisition and enveloped people into an altered state (of consciousness, or an altered political state). Most recently, Gach directed and performed a radical magic show which drew parallels between magic acts and contemporary issues such as economic manipulation, political deception, vanishing resources, and social transformation.

Read the interview here.


Austerity Art in Athens

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Street artists in Athens are expressing their economic concerns and frustration with vivid imagery:

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See more images from Huff Post Greece.


Children vs. Fashion

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Filed under: Creative Activism

From the website of Yolanda Dominquez, visual artist and activist who, “through irony and contextualization as principal strategies, creates situations or scenarios in which the viewer is involved and can participate.”

She recently asked young children to talk about images fashion brands use to promote their new collections.

Watch the video:

Photos:
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Read more here: Kids Point Out Dark Side Of Fashion Ads That We’ve All Been Ignoring, by Jamie Feldman, July 30, 2015, HuffPo.


Tuba Libre

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Filed under: Creative Activism

Meet the Man Who Beat the KKK With a Tuba
Daily Beast
by Ben Collins
July 22, 2015

A video of Matt Buck humiliating the Klan with his tuba has gone viral. We talked to the American hero about the rally, his song selection, and ‘Tuba Libre’ social justice.

Matt Buck with Tuba

Matt Buck walked alongside a Klan rally with his sousaphone on Saturday, farting out a low, slow version of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as a plodding gaggle of KKK members slowly clopped toward the South Carolina State House.

His mini-protest only lasted a couple of minutes, but most of it was on video. That 95-second clip, which was taken by a stranger, has now reached 3.6 million views at press time—most of them since Tuesday morning.

Read the rest of this article here.


White Squad

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire

Racial Satire ‘White Squad’ Is Painfully Hilarious But All Too Real
by Aaron Barksdale
Huffington Post
July 18, 2015

This satirical ad nails everyday racial inequality.

The White Squad Ad

Meet the “White Squad” a group of well-meaning white people looking to help out people of color. The squad is introduced in a new, brilliant satire by MTV Decoded that tackles racial inequality that privileges white people and disadvantages people of color in everyday situations.

In the video above, members of the company provide a white stand-in for minorities who may encounter discrimination.

“Is your skin color holding you back? Are you tired of systemic prejudice ruining your day?” the narrator asks before before offering “professional white advantage services,” which include hailing a cab, finding a better apartment and seeking legal services.

From their paste-colored office to their all-white employees, the company insures that their whiteness will work in your favor. With a few convincing testimonials, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t an actual service.

While entertaining, the video raises some disturbing flags of actual oppression that can’t be fixed with a call to a 1-800 number.


Mexico Trumps Donald

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire

From Erin: Giving The Donald his due.


Donald Trump Piñatas Are a Hit In Mexico
by Jacob Davidson
Time.com
June 30, 2015

“This pinata especially is the one everyone wants to break.”

Trump Pinata

Mexicans have found a way to hit back at Donald Trump. Literally.

Reuters reports that piñatas bearing Trump’s likeness, including “a flange of blonde hair and a big mouth,” have hit store shelves in Mexico and are proving popular among customers eager to protest the billionaire’s recent remarks against immigrants.

Trump, who is a Republican candidate for president, drew criticism after declaring in his campaign announcement speech that Mexican migrants were bringing “drugs, crime, and rapists” to the United States. He later called his comments “100 percent correct,” but insisted he was a strong supporter of Mexicans. “How can I not love people who give me many millions of dollars for apartments?” Trump said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Donald’s comments prompted piñata maker Dalton Remirez to design an extremely bashable piñata bearing Trump’s visage. The candy-filled sculpture retails for about $40, and Ramirez says it has been flying off shelves. “This piñata especially is the one everyone wants to break,” the artist told Reuters.


Scientific Fakery: Sweet Revenge

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Pranksters, Sociology and Psychology of Pranks

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.
by John Bohannon
io9.com
May 27, 2015

“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day.
SikeIt made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily,” page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”

I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website.

Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.

Read the whole article here. And meet the man behind the hoax here.


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