Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

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Muscleman Prank Turns Ugly

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Media Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Sometimes, laughs come with a penalty: legal charges. Such is the case for two comedians whose brawn didn’t match their claims. Thanks Naomi.


“TV Station Suing Comedians For Pranking Morning Show As Fake Strongman Duo”
by Laura Hurley
Cinemablend
April 27, 2017

There is a time and a place to pull epic pranks on unsuspecting targets, and the pranks are often pretty hilarious. Recently, however, one prank was received very poorly by the target, and the pranksters are facing a lawsuit because of it. Two men tricked the Wisconsin TV station WEAU-TV into bringing them on as a strongman duo with stunts to show off. When the comedians turned up without any real skills to demonstrate, the WEAU owners weren’t too happy, and they’ve deciding to sue.

Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher posed as a strongman duo going by “Chop & Steele.” The prank began when a person calling himself Jerry Chubb emailed two WEAU anchors about the strongmen appearing on the Hello Wisconsin morning show to promote themselves. New York Daily News reports that this “Jerry Chubb” sent WEAU a press release claiming that Chop and Steele were popular contestants on the third season of America’s Got Talent. The Hello Wisconsin anchors didn’t realize until they were already on the air that Chop and Steele had no idea what they were doing and were definitely not strongmen, and parent company Gray Television is suing Pickett and Prueher for allegedly using false materials and identities to convince WEAU to book them.

The suit from Gray Television claims that Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher infringed on the company’s copyright of the Hello Wisconsin episode they appeared on. Additionally, Gray Television wants the court to order Pickett and Prueher’s Found Footage Festival to “render a full and complete accounting… of its profits, gains, advantages, and the value of the business opportunities received from the foregoing infringement.” Ouch. Read more.


Fast Food Ad Pulls a Fast One

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Publicity Stunts

A clever and controversial Burger King TV ad stokes fears about the internet of things and our accelerating rate of information exchange.


“Burger King’s new ad forces Google Home to advertise the Whopper”
by Jacob Kastrenakes
The Verge
April 12, 2017

Burger King is unveiling a horrible, genius, infuriating, hilarious, and maybe very poorly thought-out ad today that’s designed to intentionally set off Google Homes and Android phones.

The 15-second ad features someone in a Burger King uniform leaning into the camera before saying, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?”

For anyone with a Google Home near their TV, that strangely phrased request will prompt the speaker to begin reading the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper. It’s a clever way of getting viewers’ attention, but it’s also a really quick way of getting on viewers’ nerves — just look at the reactions people had when ads accidentally triggered voice assistants in the past.
“Burger King’s ad relies on Wikipedia, which is maybe not a good idea”

While Burger King is far from the first to recognize that it’s possible to mess with someone else’s smart speaker, it’s certainly the first to put it into a widely run ad campaign. The spot is supposed to begin running in prime-time slots across the US today on networks including History, Spike, Comedy Central, MTV, E!, and Bravo, and it will air during Adult Swim, The Tonight Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Google wasn’t involved in the ad’s creation. That means this isn’t an expansion of Google’s ad tests (people weren’t happy when Google built a Beauty and the Beast ad into the speaker), but it also leads to some real issues for Burger King. For one, it has to use weird phrasing — “What is the Whopper burger?” — because that’s the query that actually gets the result it wants. Asking “What is a Whopper?” gets you the definition of the word “whopper.”

And then there’s the bigger problem: Google gets its explanation of the Whopper from Wikipedia. And as we all know, anyone’s free to edit Wikipedia. Read more.

Subway Sexual Assault Prevention Gets Physical

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Legal Issues, Political Pranks, Publicity Stunts, Satire

An aggressive awareness campaign hits handsy men where it hurts.


“Mexico City Subway Installs Plastic Penis on Seats to Fight Sexual Harassment”
by Kieran Corcoran
Heat Street
March 14, 2017

Subway bosses in Mexico City have fitted plastic penises onto seats in a bizarre campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault.

The smooth shape of some plastic seats on the billion-passenger network has been replaced with the sculpted shape of a male body.

The upper half of the seat is fitted with a chest, nipples and a belly – while the lower half is given legs, and a prominent, flaccid penis. Watch the video here:

Text placed on the floor next to the modified seats makes the point that sitting there is uncomfortable – but not as uncomfortable as getting sexually assaulted. Read more.

NYC’s 32nd Annual April Fools Day Parade in Photos

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Filed under: All About Pranks, Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The World of the Prank

It was huge. Tremendous turnout. Thousands of people. Bigger than the Obama Inauguration! These images speak for themselves…


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April Fools 2017: This Year in Branded Pranks

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Satire, The World of the Prank

April Fool’s Day brings a deluge of cleverness. For journalists covering the arts, entertainment, business, culture, or predictably tech (populated as it is by Stanford and MIT wiseacres), tracking the cuteness can be overwhelming.

At The Verge, Elizabeth Lopatto turns in a thoughtful rant on “the 500-year history of a troll holiday,” including an interview with Alex Boese of the Museum of Hoaxes, that explores why some of us are not big fans of 4/1.

Nevertheless, there’s plenty of fun to be had. The enormous display of creativity and break from the standard shilling grind can be inspiring. And a few marketing stunts shine through with transgressive humor, playful conviviality, or something genuinely important to say. (That, or they’re just joyously dumb.)

Here were a few that stood out in 2017.

MetBnB

The Metropolitan Museum’s fictitious partnership with the “sharing economy” startup was a lighthearted means of drawing attention to serious commercialization and fundraising challenges in the art world. (more…)

Joey Skaggs Promises Satirical Provocation for Donald Trump

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Prank News, Pranksters

As our founder prepares for his April Fools’ Day Parade Trumpathon, he gives us a look behind the scenes.


“Prankster Behind NYC April Fools’ Day Parade Says This Year’s Event Will Mock Donald Trump”
by Jillian Kay Melchior
Heat Street
March 28, 2017

For more than three decades, prankster Joey Skaggs has rejoiced in ensnaring the national media into covering fake news of his own invention. But this April Fools’ Day, he insists he’s absolutely serious about mocking Donald Trump.

“You can certainly accuse me of being the Boy Who Cried Wolf, given my past track record with this parade,” Skaggs told Heat Street. Indeed, for the past 31 years, Skaggs has sent out elaborate news releases announcing not only the April Fools’ Day Parade schedule and route but also describing floats—all fake, all for a parade that doesn’t actually happen.

“But the reality of this April Fools’ Day makes it absolutely essential that I finally show up along with, hopefully, hoards of Donald Trump look-alikes,” Skaggs said, adding that he’s hoping to earn a listing in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest gathering of Donald Trump look-alikes.

For what it’s worth, we called the Guinness Book of World records, which confirmed there is an open application under Skaggs’ name. “But the category that he’s applying for is a new category, so the category would have to be accepted by the records team first, before he could attempt a record,” said spokeswoman Sofia Rocher. She said it’s not yet clear whether they’ll have an answer for Skaggs by April 1.

New York City requires a permit from the Police Commissioner for any parade. Skaggs says he has not gotten one, adding, “We’ve gone 32 years without a permit.” Read more.

Not #FakeNews, But an Incredible Simulation

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, The World of the Prank

A new video game brings your republic-wrecking fantasies to life.


If you were for some reason dying to play a video game about fake news, it’s here now
by Marissa Wenzke
Mashable
March 27, 2017

This fake news simulator is the depressing video game America deserves

It’s something that’s come to be reviled, the very thing that may have cost America a presidential election — fake news.

And the horrible phenomenon that’s been called out by everyone from former President Barack Obama to Apple CEO Tim Cook now has a video game all about it.

Yes, you can actually climb inside the minds of real-life humans who distribute lies for money. Fake It to Make It describes itself as “a social impact game about fake news.”

By that definition, it’s less a celebration of fake news and more a socially conscious dissection of it. Well, that’s at least what it’s intended to be, as its creator Amanda Warner explains.

“I think that better understanding how and why we are manipulated by others, for profit or power, is worthwhile knowledge to have,” she told The Verge.

The game takes you through a journey that mirrors the stories of real-life fake news creators. For instance, it starts by asking you to choose a purchase you want to make, like a $1,000 used car or $400 for a deposit on an apartment (deals we think questionably exist IRL). Read more.


In a Troubled Country, a Novelty Candidate Gains a Following

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

In the run-up to Serbia’s April 2nd presidential election, flamboyant joke candidate Luka Maksimovic has piqued the interest of disillusioned voters eager to shake up the system. On the international stage, Maksimovic is unique in that a) he displays some self-awareness, and b) he probably won’t win.


“Parody politician is new star in Serbia’s presidential race”
by Jovana Gec
AP
March 27. 2017

Ahead of Serbia’s presidential election on Sunday, a political parody has emerged as a true star.

His real name is Luka Maksimovic, but the 25-year-old student bidding to become the Balkan country’s next leader has won fame — and public support — appearing as a grossly exaggerated politician, complete with a white suit, oversized jewelry and a man bun.

Campaigning as a sleazy, loud character who makes wild promises and whose triumph is foretold by fortune tellers, Maksimovic has won over many in crisis-stricken Serbia, which has been plagued by political corruption and is eager for new faces and ideas.

Opinion polls have predicted that Maksimovic could win around 11 percent of the vote Sunday, trailing the powerful populist Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic but surpassing several other established candidates.

This, analysts say, already is a huge success for a newcomer with scarce political experience, no infrastructure and slim funds.

“It’s just my charisma!” the communications student joked in an interview with The Associated Press. “Citizens are so anxious to see me that I must sneak in unannounced to avoid huge crowds descending on me!” Read more.


An Off-the-wall Immodest Proposal

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Part of a proud tradition of construction-themed pranks, these morbid Canadian satirists have got a smoking hot deal for Donald Trump.


“Canadians’ Satirical Border Wall ‘Solution’ Designed to Drive Trump Up the Wall”
by Jim Brunner
Seattle Times
March 17, 2017

No, dead Nazi Albert Speer is not really bidding to build President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall. But a group of Canadian pranksters who ‘figured some kind of parody submission was in order’ has created and submitted one in Speer’s name.

More than 700 businesses have signed up for possible work on President Donald Trump’s proposed “big, beautiful” wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But not everyone registering for the early-stage federal bidding process is serious. Some are looking to satirize or protest the controversial project.

Take “Trump Wall Solutions,” a firm ostensibly based in Toronto, Canada, which has signed up as an “interested vendor” in response to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) online solicitation.

The company’s listed principal? That would be Albert Speer, the Nazi war criminal who was Adolf Hitler’s personal architect. Speer, who designed the infamous Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg, died in 1981.

Trump Wall Solutions is actually a small group of Canadian pranksters mortified by the Trump administration and the border-wall plan, according to two men involved in the project who spoke with The Seattle Times by phone Friday.

“We just thought it was a bit absurd, this whole wall proposal. We figured some kind of parody submission was in order,” said Matt, one of the organizers, who said he works in architecture in Toronto. Read more.


Meet New Alt-Right Media Power-Broker Robert Mercer

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Propaganda and Disinformation, Spin

He made his money in tech and he’s investing it in new toys — data analytics and international politics. With his sights set on the media, his ultimate target is your heart and mind.


“Robert Mercer: The Big Data Billionaire Waging War on Mainstream Media”
by Carol Cadwalladr
The Guardian
February 26, 2017

Robert Mercer very rarely speaks in public and never to journalists, so to gauge his beliefs you have to look at where he channels his money: a series of yachts, all called Sea Owl; a $2.9m model train set; climate change denial (he funds a climate change denial thinktank, the Heartland Institute); and what is maybe the ultimate rich man’s plaything – the disruption of the mainstream media. In this he is helped by his close associate Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager and now chief strategist. The money he gives to the Media Research Center, with its mission of correcting “liberal bias” is just one of his media plays. There are other bigger, and even more deliberate strategies, and shining brightly, the star at the centre of the Mercer media galaxy, is Breitbart.

It was $10m of Mercer’s money that enabled Bannon to fund Breitbart – a rightwing news site, set up with the express intention of being a Huffington Post for the right. It has launched the careers of Milo Yiannopoulos and his like, regularly hosts antisemitic and Islamophobic views, and is currently being boycotted by more than 1,000 brands after an activist campaign. It has been phenomenally successful: the 29th most popular site in America with 2bn page views a year. It’s bigger than its inspiration, the Huffington Post, bigger, even, than PornHub. It’s the biggest political site on Facebook. The biggest on Twitter.

Prominent rightwing journalist Andrew Breitbart, who founded the site but died in 2012, told Bannon that they had “to take back the culture”. And, arguably, they have, though American culture is only the start of it. In 2014, Bannon launched Breitbart London, telling the New York Times it was specifically timed ahead of the UK’s forthcoming election. It was, he said, the latest front “in our current cultural and political war”. France and Germany are next. (more…)

World’s Largest Gathering of Trump Look-alikes for April Fools’ Day–It’s a Trumpathon!

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Pranks, Prank News, Satire

Announcing New York City’s 32nd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade, kicking off Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 59th Street & 5th Avenue at 12 noon. This is a call for anyone who wants to participate. Check the press release for details and to print your Donald Trump Mask.


PRESS RELEASE
New York, New York — New York’s irreverent April Fools’ Day Parade returns, poking fun once again at the past year’s displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright foolishness. Nothing is sacred. Our satire knows no bounds. The 32nd Annual April Fools’ Day Parade will begin at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street at 12 noon, Saturday, April 1, 2017.

Rain or shine, the parade will march down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square Park for the climactic selection of the King of Fools from the costumed look-alikes. Marchers create outrageous floats and dress up in colorful costumes mirroring the folly of the previous year’s nuttiest politicians, corporate leaders, celebrities and whoever else has made a total fool of themselves.

This will be the world’s largest gathering of Donald Trump look-alikes. We’re going for a Guinness World Record for the largest assembly of Donald Trumps. Get your Donald Trump look-alike mask here. Print it, cut it out, and wear it to the parade. And please tweet and re-tweet about this epic TRUMPATHON!

The theme for this year’s parade is “MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN!” The Grand Marshall will be a Donald Trump look-alike. He will lead the All Brass Balls Marching Band (a.k.a. Trump’s Cabinet members), playing the Russian National Anthem. Color commentary will be provided by an Alec Baldwin look-alike as Donald Trump. The parade route will be showered with over 100 tons of confetti from fake news courtesy of Facebook, Twitter, Google, Fox News, InfoWars, Breitbart and others.

We’re announcing the 2017 King of Fools in advance this year. It’s Donald Trump. But to keep it democratic, there will be a vote at the end of the parade anyway.

Says Parade Organizer Joey Skaggs, “April Fools’ Day, once a day of celebrating alternative truth, has now officially been extended to 365 days of the year.”

(more…)

Has a Trump Inauguration COINTELPRO been Trumped?

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Activists sting James O’Keefe’s latest attempt at a 1960s FBI-style COINTELPRO.

COINTELPRO (an acronym for COunter INTELligence PROgram) was a series of covert, and at times illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and disrupting domestic political organizations.

This is an unfolding story that needs more verification, but…


Is Project Veritas Conducting Political Hit Jobs for Donald Trump?
Rightwing operative caught offering money to protesters to stage violent disruption of the Trump inauguration, part of a pattern of attacks orchestrated against progressives by James O’Keefe, in coordination with Breitbart News and with the support of Donald Trump.


Produced by Lauren Windsor and Peter James Callahan.

Learn more about this here: Counter-Sting Catches James O’Keefe Network Attempting To Sow Chaos At Trump’s Inauguration, by Ryan Grim, Huffington Post, January 9, 2017

and here:

Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.
Project Veritas has been caught trying to pay liberal groups to break the law.

and…

A warning goes out to women attending the Women’s March on January 21, 2017

Improv Everywhere: No Pants Subway 2017

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:

On Sunday, January 8th, 2017 tens of thousands of people took off their pants on subways in over 60 cities in over 25 countries around the world. In New York, our 16th Annual No Pants Subway Ride took place in windy 22F degree weather and was spread out over seven meeting points and eleven subway lines. Thanks to everyone who participated all around the globe! Enjoy the video!

Getting Off to a Good Start with Hollyweed

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

Update January 5, 2016: Meet the Artist Behind the Cheeky Transformation of the Hollywood Sign


Hollywood sign altered to read “Hollyweed’ in apparent New Year’s Day prank
ABC7
by Leanne Suter and ABC7.com staff
January 1, 2017

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) — Hollywood residents awoke Sunday morning to find the iconic Hollywood sign had been altered to read “Hollyweed” in an apparent New Year’s Day prank.

The sign was vandalized about 3 a.m. by a male suspect who was recorded on surveillance video, said Lt. Guy Juneau of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Security Services Division.

Dressed in all black, the unidentified vandal scaled Mount Lee, made his way over a fence and then climbed onto each of the landmark’s “O” letters, the lieutenant said. He then draped those letters with black tarps so they each appeared as a lowercase “e.”

Read the whole story here.

Thanks Andrea!

Improv Everywhere: Random Parade Leader

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:


Random Parade Leader Wanted

Improv Everywhere: Random Parade

For our latest mission, a woman in a marching band uniform stands on the sidewalk with a sign that reads “Parade Leader Wanted.” When a stranger agrees to help out, a huge parade led by a marching band emerges from around the corner and follows him wherever he goes. The band plays “Jingle Bells” and is followed by a cast of characters that includes two yetis, Frosty the Snowman, and two guys holding giant flags that read “Random Parade.”

This mission was made possible by Caring Crowd, a crowd-funding platform where people come together to fund global health projects.

Enjoy the video first and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.