Media Pranks

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Urban Foxhunting Hoax Explained

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Pranksters

Submitted by Josh Jaspers:


Urban fox hunt video was hoax aimed at the media, say film-makers
by Paul Lewis
Guardian.co.uk
6 August 2010

Chris Atkins explains how he hoaxed the press into printing stories about urban fox hunters.

It was the internet video that sparked a media outcry: grainy footage that seemed to show four masked men drugging a fox and later beating it to death with cricket bats in a London park that was posted on YouTube and Facebook earlier this week.

But the Guardian can reveal that the new sport of “urban foxhunting” was an elaborate hoax. The film-makers, Chris Atkins and Johnny Howorth, said no real foxes were harmed in the film, which was intended as a satirical swipe at “media hysteria” over the danger of urban foxes.

Animal rights campaigners had expressed fury over the “bloodthirsty” huntsmen, eliciting the support of MPs on Twitter and prompting an inquiry by the Metropolitan police’s wildlife crime unit.

YouTube and Facebook removed the footage and the controversy was covered in news outlets including the Guardian, the Times, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail. The BBC was also duped, sending a reporter to Victoria Park, Hackney – the supposed scene of the crime. Amid a growing furore, the animal welfare group League Against Cruel Sports launched a campaign against urban foxhunting, while the RSPCA said it was investigating. (more…)

Virginity for Sale?

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Is it a hoax or is it porn? Joey Skaggs is interviewed for AOL News:


Hoax Experts Cast Doubt on Virgin Reality Show
by David Moye
AOLNews.com
May 17, 2010

Four Australian virgins are allegedly in Las Vegas to sell off their virginity to the highest bidder, but hoax experts say the only ones getting screwed are the people who believe it’s real.

Australian documentary filmmaker Justin Sisely is getting international publicity for planning a reality show in which men and women will auction their virginity to the highest bidders — but hoax experts are casting doubt on the whole enterprise.

After a yearlong audition process in Australia, Sisely says he has found six virgins — five men and one woman — willing to broadcast their first-times on prime time for about $17,700 each, as well as 90 percent of their sale price. Two of those virgins, Ben Smith and “Veronica Peach,” are reportedly in Nevada after the Australian government threatened to hit Sisely with prostitution charges if he filmed the show in his home country.

Now Sisely is claiming the auction will take place in a Nevada brothel, which will receive the remaining 10 percent of the sale prices.

Although bids supposedly will be placed online before the final auction, experts in both hoaxes and the sex industry doubt the whole affair is real or will ever happen.

Joey Skaggs, who has a 40-year-career of playing pranks on the media, says Sisely’s purported documentary sounds like a big media hoax — and not a good one at that. (more…)

No Fun with Franco and Eva Mattes

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks

From Franco & Eva Mattes, aka 0100101110101101.ORG, May 1, 2010:


Artist Commits Suicide Online as a Work of Art (well, sort of)

Thousand of people watched powerless while a person was hanging from the ceiling, slowly swinging, for hours and hours. It happened yesterday, in the popular website Chatroulette, where people from all over the world can anonymously and randomly see each other through their webcams and chat with perfect strangers.

The hanging man was in fact Brooklyn based artist Franco Mattes, and the whole scene a set up. The artist recorded all the performance and than posted it online. In the video, titled “No Fun”, one can see all possible reactions, from the most predictable to the most unthinkable: some laugh, believing it’s a joke, some seem to be completely unmoved, some insult the supposed-corpse and some, more cynical, take pictures with their phones. Apparently, out of several thousand people, only one called the police. Watching the video can be a strange experience, at times exhilarating as well as disturbing.

No Fun – Eva and Franco Mattes from Franco Mattes on Vimeo.

(more…)

So, Are You Going to Kate’s Party?

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Serial prankster admits to Kate’s party hoax
Yahoo!7
April 27, 2010

The serial online prankster David Thorne is at it again, this time creating the party of the century on social networking site, Facebook.

Thorne, known for his hilarious attempt to pay a bill with a spider drawing, has created a new viral phenomenon with his hoax Facebook event, Kate’s Party.

The event, which appeared to be a birthday party on May 1st for Adelaide woman Kate Miller, attracted 60,000 attendees after Thorne posted the link on his Twitter page, 27b/6. A day later there were a further 180,000 people who had been invited waiting to be confirmed. (more…)

Remembering Silibil N’ Brains & Other Music Industry Pranks

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Hoax is where the art is: music biz scams
by Jane Graham
The Guardian
24 April 2010

With the story of how rap-scallions Silibil N’Brains fooled America hitting shelves, Jane Graham looks at some more music industry hoaxes

As international fraudsters, they had brassier balls than the Enron board and more starry-eyed optimism than Bernie Madoff. But like most myopic voyagers’ tales, Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd’s adventure ended in humiliating exposure, broken relationships and empty pockets. Not great news for their families or psychiatrists, but their brilliant scam does make for a ripping yarn, published this month in the form of Bain’s mea culpa, California Schemin’ (Simon & Schuster).

California Schemin’ documents the ridiculous but entirely true story of how two teenagers from Dundee seduced the music industry in 2003 with little more than a pair of Converse, an LA twang and a pack of lies. Scalded by a London showcase gig in which their Scottish-accented act had seen derisively dubbed “the rapping Proclaimers”, Bain and his buddy Boyd studied their Eminem and Jim Carrey DVDs, re-invented themselves as potty-mouthed American hip-hop duo Silibil N’ Brains, rubbed shoulders with the likes of Madonna and Eminem and set the controls for vengeance. (more…)

LiteratEye #48: Newspaper Nostalgia: Biped Beavers, Libidinous Man-Bats on the Moon

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Filed under: Literary Hoaxes, Media Pranks

Here’s the forty-eighth 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 #48: Newspaper Nostalgia: Biped Beavers, Libidinous Man-Bats on the Moon
By W.J. Elvin III
January 22, 2010

beavers-200The New York Times, you may have noticed, plans to start charging for portions of its web content. One assumes the portions will be the those readers find most interesting.

So then patronage will fall off, and with fewer readers there will be fewer advertisers, and so on until we hear the death rattle of yet another newspaper. Well, in the case of the Times it probably won’t be quite that bad, but the Internet era has certainly seen the downsizing or demise of quite a few news publications.

How bad is it? MSN Money lists newspaper subscriptions among its top ten things not to buy in 2010, citing the popular alternatives.

Which is too bad, because newspapers and news magazines have been a great vehicle for the perpetuation of hoaxes. No doubt our host, Joey Skaggs, is indebted to more than a few for taking the bait. In my own forty years or so in the news business I noticed a fairly cavalier attitude toward great stories that seemed at least a little fishy: “Print first, ask questions later.”

In the good old days, before newspapers got all goody-goody ethical, editors and reporters were among the top pranksters.

The sport got up its steam back in the 1830s. That was when Richard Adams Locke, an English journalist serving as editor of The New York Sun, sprang what is regarded as the greatest newspaper hoax of all time. (more…)

Navy Needs Anti-hoax Vaccine

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Reports of sailors dying from the H1N1 flu vaccine are a hoax, Navy says
LA Military Headlines Examiner
by Mark Nero
October 31, 2009

H1N1Vaccine-200A report popping up in emails and on blogs in recent weeks that sailors aboard a ship have died from the vaccine for the H1N1 virus is a complete hoax, according to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The false report, which has circulating online for several weeks, claims that the vaccine is the cause of the swine flu and not the cure and that the crew of an unnamed naval vessel was sickened by the vaccine.

“Of the 347 man crew that were vaccinated, 333 contracted the H1N1 flu FROM THE VACCINE,” reads one false e-mail that has been circulated on several blogs. “Two died … and 331 survived. Only 14 of the 347 vaccinated sailors did not show any ill effects from the vaccine.”

“PLEASE pass this email along,” the message continues. “The truth is that the swine flu epidemic will be created BY THE VACCINE. If we don’t take it, there will be no epidemic.” (more…)

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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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…)