Media Pranks

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Skaggs, Blags and Rags: Hoaxes and the Press

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

Submitted by Mark Borkowski from Borkowski Blog. Mark is author of The Fame Formula: How Hollywood’s Fixers, Fakers and Star Makers Shaped the Publicity Industry


Skaggs, Blags and Rags: Hoaxes and the Press
October 16th, 2009

If you want proof that stunts are an art form, your best bet is to head down to the Tate Modern’s Pop exhibition and take a long, hard look at the Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons exhibits. Here are two prime examples of early stops at one of the stations of the cross of Consumerism, part of its steady progress to becoming the prime 21st Century religion.

And proof is needed that stunts are an art form – they are making something of a comeback at the moment, but the latest examples – the Starsuckers film and Balloon Boy – are in need of a bit of spit and polish if they are to really shine.


Despite all this, there has been not one mention of the master of the hoax, Joey Skaggs, the master Culture Jammer whose hoaxes have always had a pertinent point to make. This is a pity because the Starsuckers team could learn a trick or two from him. (more…)

Michael Jackson Not Dead? [English & German]

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Editor’s note: Watch how this hoax was perpetrated in a behind-the-scenes video at the end of this post…


Hoax video of Michael Jackson creates online stir
by Kirsten Grieshaber
Yahoo! News / Associated Press
September 1, 2009

Berlin – A hoax video purportedly showing Michael Jackson emerging from a coroner’s van was an experiment aimed at showing how quickly misinformation and conspiracy theories can race across the Internet, German broadcaster RTL said Tuesday.

The video was posted by RTL on YouTube for a single day a week ago and received 880,000 hits. The broadcaster has since removed the video from YouTube, but it has been picked up by other Web sites around the world.

“We wanted to show how easily users can be manipulated on the Internet with hoax videos,” spokeswoman Heike Schultz of Cologne-based RTL told The Associated Press. “Therefore, we created this video of Michael Jackson being alive, even though everybody knows by now that he is dead — and the response was breathtaking.” (more…)

Microsoft Viral Stunt

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Publicity Stunts

Submitted by Paul C. from Yahoo! Finance, by Chris Nichols, August 13, 2009:


Microsoft’s Marketing Stunt Goes Viral

Turns out the official recipe for fun and the way to create an Internet sensation are the same: Start with a megacorporation, add in a group of Germans on a hillside, liberally take advantage of slick editing software and let the power of the Web do its thing.

If you spend any time online, have a TV or know anyone who does, you’ve probably heard about the latest craze blasting its way through cyberspace. In case you haven’t, a recap: A guy in a neoprene suit goes barreling down a waterslide, flies off the end and through the air, traveling a great distance, and splashes down in a tiny pool. It’s the MegaWoosh. See?

Please understand. This is a hoax. (more…)

Oops. 4Chan Not Really Blocked by AT&T; AT&T CEO Not Really Dead

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AT&T said to block 4chan; pranksters fight back
by Caroline McCarthy
CNET.com
July 27, 2009

ireport-425


Reports began to surface Sunday charging that AT&T had blocked broadband access to parts of the notorious (and powerful) Internet forum site 4chan, which the telecom company confirmed on Monday. Late in the evening, a fake story surfaced on CNN’s iReport citizen journalism site alleging that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had been “found dead in his multimillion dollar beachfront mansion” after a cocaine overdose.

Suffice it to say that the two events are likely connected. Access to 4chan has since been restored for AT&T broadband customers.

For those who stepped in late: 4chan is sort of like the Internet’s equivalent of a league of pirates, den of thieves, or whatever other sort of anarchic analogy you prefer. Decentralized and relying on anonymity, the participants issue large-scale pranks both online and offline, from teaming up with video site eBaumsWorld to launch the “Porn Day” campaign on YouTube to spamming Twitter’s trending topics. (more…)

Dark Side of the Moon

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

Update, July 16, 2009 — An interesting twist for conspiracy theorists — NASA lost moon footage, but Hollywood restores it


Submitted by Jorge Luis Marzo:

From Wikipedia:

“Dark Side of the Moon” is a French mockumentary by director William Karel which originally aired on Arte in 2002 with the title Opération Lune. The basic premise for the film is the theory that the television footage from the Apollo 11 Moon landing was faked and actually recorded in a studio by the CIA with help from director Stanley Kubrick. It features some surprising guest appearances, most notably by Donald Rumsfeld, Dr. Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Buzz Aldrin and Stanley Kubrick’s widow, Christiane Kubrick…

Here, as a tease, are three clips about 25 minutes long, cut from the hour and a half documentary.

(more…)

Baba Wa Simba Hits the Internet

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

In 1995, Baba Wa Simba (aka Joey Skaggs), a new-age therapist, whose mission was to work with disenfranchised and troubled youth and heal the wounded animal within, visited his lion pride in London. The Word, a television show on the UK’s Channel 4, documented the visit and aired it March 3, 1995. The video of this visit has just been released online:

Read more about Baba Wa Simba here.

LiteratEye #18: Fakers Find Flaws in Open-Access Free-for-All

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Pranks

Here’s the eighteenth installment of LiteratEye, a series found only on The Art of the Prank Blog, by W.J. Elvin III, editor and publisher of FIONA: Mysteries & Curiosities of Literary Fraud & Folly and the LitFraud blog.


LiteratEye #18: Fakers Find Flaws in Open-Access Free-for-All
By W.J. Elvin III
June 19, 2009

In this section, we discuss existing research into red-black trees, vacuum tubes, and courseware [10]. On a similar note, recent work by Takahashi suggests a methodology for providing robust modalities, but does not offer an implementation [9].

- Excerpted from a heap of gibberish accepted for publication by a well-known science journal. As this column explains, the promise of the “open access” movement in scientific and scholarly journals is not without problems.

russiatodayWho owns knowledge? One way to get a clue is to try to access research papers published in expensive, exclusive scientific and scholarly journals. Can’t do it with a simple Google search. To pick that lock, you’ll need a credit card.

However, the open access movement is changing that.

The open access movement strives to make scientific and scholarly studies available to all, free. That’s the bottom line. Naturally there’s a more complicated explanation, so, if you want to explore the finer points, check out the Open Access Overview.

Anyway, what a great idea, specialized knowledge accessible to all, minus the usual sky-high price tag.

And you figure these big-hearted publishers of elite and prestigious journals that have been raking in astronomical subscription prices and hefty pay-per-view fees are just opening the gates to the rabble?

Sort of. (more…)

Civil Disobedients Sought via Fake Newspaper

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

Press release submitted by The Yes Men, June 18, 2009:


World Leaders Sign Pact to Avert Climate Disaster

Newspaper Ignites Hope, Announces “Civil Disobedience Database”
[Watch video here]

IHT-specialedition_Pagina_1-200In a front-page ad in today’s International Herald Tribune, the leaders of the European Union thank the European public for having engaged in months of civil disobedience leading up to the Copenhagen climate conference that will be held this December. “It was only thanks to your massive pressure over the past six months that we could so dramatically shift our climate-change policies…. To those who were arrested, we
thank you.”

There was only one catch: the paper was fake.

Looking exactly like the real thing, but dated December 19th, 2009, a million copies of the fake paper were distributed worldwide by thousands of volunteers in order to show what could be achieved at the Copenhagen climate conference that is scheduled for Dec. 7-18, 2009. (At the moment, the conference is aiming for much more modest cuts, dismissed by leading climate scientists as too little, too late to stave off runaway processes that will lead to millions or even billions of casualties.)

The paper describes in detail a powerful (and entirely possible) new treaty to bring carbon levels down below 350 parts per million – the level climate scientists say we need to achieve to avoid climate catastrophe. One article describes how a website, http://BeyondTalk.net, mobilized thousands of people to put their bodies on the line to confront climate change policies – ever since way back in June, 2009.

Although the newspaper is a fake (its production and launch were coordinated by Greenpeace), the website is real. (more…)

Beyonce Hoaxed by Accident

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Beyonce Hoaxer Apologises
Daily Star Sunday
25th April 2009

The internet prankster who made Beyonce Knowles sound out-of-tune has apologised for the hoax that “got out of hand”.

beyonceMatthew Zeghibe tampered with a recording of the superstar performing on live TV last November (08) to make it sound like she is tone deaf.

The audio was leaked online and quickly grabbed the attention of fans, internet bloggers and shock jock Howard Stern, who aired the recording on his U.S. radio show.

The controversy prompted Knowles’ father Mathew to dismiss the tape as a fake, and finally Zeghibe came forward to confess his scam.

The art student is stunned his creation attracted so much attention, telling Rolling Stone magazine, “It was just for a good laugh. It was a goof, just for fun. I do a lot of parodies on my YouTube channel, and it just so happens this one got a little out of hand.”

But Zeghibe insists there’s a serious side to his musical tampering – he claims it shows how easy it is to manipulate singers’ voices to make them sound better and worse.

He adds, “I was just trying to make a point. I wanted to show people how easy it is to manipulate someone’s voice. If I can do it with a clip I pulled off of TV, imagine what they are doing on records and during live performances. The entire industry has been so manipulated, because there’s such an emphasis on perfection, so when something like this happens, it causes such a stir.”

The Hotelicopter

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Filed under: Media Pranks

From YouTube:


Check out the world’s first flying hotel!

thanks Don

Extreme Sheep Herding

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Filed under: Illusion and Magic, Media Pranks

From BaaStuds:


We took to the hills of Wales armed to the teeth with sheep, LEDs and a camera, to create a huge amazing LED display. Of sorts…

thanks Erin

iMac Shuffle: Simplicity Defined

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Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters

From imacshuffle.com, created by @rfelix and @chriscoyier, the guys behind LyricSift, its companion iPhone app, and AreMySitesUp:


imacshuffle-425


Introducing the new iMac shuffle. It’s the desktop that had everything. Now, there’s less. We’ve taken out that pesky glass screen and carved the entire computer out of aluminum, for extra sturdiness. Why no screen? Well, we wanted to make the iMac shuffle even more lightweight than its predecessors, and make sure that there was nothing to distract you from the Apple logo. For inspiration, we looked to our newest, most brillant product… the new iPod shuffle.

sideviewAmazingly Uncomplicated
Taking out the screen allowed us to make the iMac even thinner. Seriously, if we turned it to the side, you nearly wouldn’t be able to see it. We’ve also built in our latest technology – VoiceOver. We liked moving the iPod controls out of the iPod shuffle so much that we decided to replace the keyboard and mouse with the same elegant input device…our inline remote. With the combination of VoiceOver and the remote, you’ll never miss your old screen. Who needs all those colors anyway? We’ve enclosed a complete 72,000 page manual that will tell you everything you need to know about navigating using the remote. Using just those 3 buttons, remote, you can easily jump to any window, launch any program…edit multi-layered Photoshop documents, anything your heart desires, you can imagine doing.

Ports? Who needs those? (more…)

War of the Worlds Revisited [English & Spanish]

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Submitted by journalist Mike Ibanez based on his article published in Cultura/s, October 31, 2008:


In 1991, an episode of the TV 2 show Camaleó (Chameleon), called La Mort [The Death] became a small War of the Worlds. About 1/3 of the way through the show, the drama was interrupted by a special news bulletin announcing that a coup d’état was in progress in the USSR. It was staged so well that other spanish media – TV, radio, etc – broadcast the (fake) news. And the confusion started (the news bulletin begins at approximately 8:30)…

The program was cancelled, however, reality is sometimes stranger than fiction, and 6 months later there was an actual coup d’état in the USSR against Gorbachov just as Camaleó has predicted. Here is Mike’s article in Spanish:

La Guerra de los In-Mundos (more…)

Czech Art Prankster Pranked by Czech Media

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters

The Fine Art of Responsible Journalism
TOL.cz
2 February 2009

A Czech paper’s childish prank on the Entropa hoaxer makes a mockery of press freedom.

David Cerny, Artist and "Prague Prankster"By now, most of Europe (if not the world) has heard of David Cerny, the Prague prankster who pulled a fast one on the Czech government. Instead of creating a sedate piece of art to hang in one of the European Union’s main buildings in Brussels – highlighting the current Czech presidency – Cerny chose to parody sensitive stereotypes of each of the EU’s member states. And not only that: he concocted a massive hoax, a “mystification” as the Czechs call it. The supposed contributors to the Entropa installation from each EU country were mere creations, as Cerny and a couple of friends had done all the work, from the sculptures to the ludicrous artist bios.

Then it was the turn of the Czech Republic’s leading daily newspaper, Mlada fronta Dnes, to get in on the fun, as the paper ran a mock interview with Cerny, making up quotes from the artist and showing a disturbing propensity to disregard journalistic ethics. As the highest-circulation “serious” newspaper, Mlada fronta is something of a bellwether for the state of the Czech media. This latest episode is not encouraging on that front. (more…)

Soccer Hoaxer Scores

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Submitted by Steve Lambert:


Fictional Moldovan Soccer Phenom Tells All
by Brian Phillips
Slate.com
January 23, 2009

Inside the ingenious hoax that fooled the British sports press.

090123_snut_soccertn-2001On a typical weekday, the English soccer press devotes itself to unsubstantiated rumors, manufactured scandals, and bikini pictures of players’ girlfriends (who seem to roam the earth together in a giant conjugal yacht, like the Beatles in Yellow Submarine). This week, however, thanks to an ingenious hoax that took in the Times of London, the soccer press has been engrossed by Moldova. Specifically by one Moldovan teenager, who is not, as it happens, a real person.

Earlier this month, the Times ran a feature called “Football’s Top 50 Rising Stars,” which featured at No. 30 a 16-year-old attacker named Masal Bugduv, whom the paper, never one to fear irony, described as “Moldova’s finest.” A bright future seemed to fill Bugduv’s windscreen. The young player had been “strongly linked,” the Times said, with a transfer to the London club Arsenal, had already earned a mention on the popular soccer news site Goal.com, spawned excitement in online forums, and been portrayed as something of a savior by the magazine When Saturday Comes, which introduced him as “one bright spot” amid Moldova’s nationalist strife.

But as the old scout’s adage says, even the most talented young striker will struggle if he has no corporeal being. (more…)