The World of the Prank
The artist as social provocateur and activist incorporates humor, satire, irony, political commentary and/or direct action to provoke critical thinking. Pranks challenge convention and the status quo and expose prejudices and biases.
Filed under: Creative Activism, Parody
Filed under: Satire
The ‘Wankband’ Will Offer Users The Ability To Charge Their Phones And Mobile Devices By Masturbating
by Curtis M. Wong
The Huffington Post
February 27, 2015
Adult video website Pornhub has developed an environmentally friendly way to charge your phone and other mobile devices… while you masturbate.
Dubbed the “Wankband,” the new, wearable device generates electricity via a valve that generates and stores energy with an up-and-down motion such as a back-and-forth motion of the wrist. The energy is stored with an internal kinetic charger. (more…)
Filed under: Media Pranks
Measles Parties, Moral Panics and Folk Devils… Oh My!
by Edward Coll
February 10, 2015
In the market for eyeballs, mass media seldom misses an opportunity to misinform the public and create controversy by ginning up a climate of fear by fabricating folk devils and a moral panic amidst a crisis.
The Disneyland measles outbreak provides the most recent example.
Media outlets from Fox to NPR spread a rumor that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a bulletin advising parents not to take children to “measles parties” to intentionally infect their children. Supposedly, these parties are being thrown by anti-vaxers to give their children “natural immunity.”
No such bulletin was ever issued by the CDPH and according to the respected debunking site Snopes.com here is what really happened:
“… a California health official explained to us that before the rumor circulated, a news outlet called to inquire whether the department had received any reports about measles parties. When a representative stated no such reports had been received, the reporter asked about the agency’s position on measles parties and was (predictably) told public health officials advised against them.”
This CPDH response to these nonexistent measles parties was morphed into a “bulletin” giving credibility to a false rumor created and spread by the media outlets themselves. Time, Salon, ABC News, LA Times, and Washington Post, to name just some, are all still actively spreading the rumor. None have retracted the story yet.
Perhaps the broadcast outlets intentional spreading of this false rumor shows the scant regard they hold for their public interest obligations.
image: Salon (Yuganov Konstantin via Shutterstock)
Filed under: Satire, The History of Pranks
New York’s spectacular April Fools’ Day Parade kicks into its fourth decade of hilarious irreverence, poking fun at the past year’s public displays of hype, hypocrisy, deceit, bigotry, and downright foolishness.
In honor of this 30th anniversary, 30 lucky revelers, picked at random from the crowd at the end of the parade in Washington Square Park, will receive free cartoon interpretations of their favorite taboo religious icons.
Details of this year’s planned floats and celebrity look-alikes are here or here.
See 30 years of annual press releases here.
Join the fun! Check back for updates.
Filed under: Creative Activism
Shared Hope International, whose mission is to eradicate sex trafficking, unveils their “Children Aren’t Playthings” doll box campaign to warn the public of the potential for and dangers of sex trafficking of minors at “mega” sporting events like the upcoming Super Bowl. Young women take turns standing in the box for hours on end to bring attention to this cause.
From Huffington Post, January 28, 2015:
The 7-foot exhibit debuted on Monday at Arizona State University, which is a hosting a weeklong anti-trafficking campaign, Offenbacher added.
It will also be stationed at Grand Canyon University, Glendale Community College and downtown Phoenix throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, according to a statement released by SHI. Saturday’s event will be held in conjunction with StreetLightUSA, a local Arizona group that rehabilitates sex trafficking survivors between the ages of 11 and 17.
Read more about it here.
Filed under: Phone Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters
Full disclosure: I, Emerson Dameron, am a proud contributor to various Chunklet projects. My dividends from Chunklet’s revenue-sharing plan can be counted on one middle finger. I consider many in the Chunklet braintrust, including Bob Schriner and Henry Owings, my friends.
Henry Owings launched Chunklet as a zine in the ’90s in Athens, Georgia, after becoming disillusioned with proper music journalism. It drew in a range of writers, musicians, music-industry laborers, and comedians who wanted to poke fun at the commercial punk- and indie-rock establishment. Since then, it has released a range of entertainment products, taken full advantage of the internet, and showcased the savvy of phone pranksters including Earles and Jensen, erstwhile affiliates of The Best Show on WFMU.
In one of Chunklet’s prouder moments, contributor Bob Schriner achieved some minor digital notoriety by screwing with a Wendy’s fry cook.
Many, including our publishers, have expressed some skepticism about what really went on with this call. We gave Schriner an opportunity to explain himself. (more…)
Filed under: Parody
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio pokes fun at himself by doing a public reading of The Onion’s parody of his handling of the impending snow storm Juno on January 27, 2015: “NYC Mayor: ‘Reconcile Yourselves With Your God, For All Will Perish In The Tempest’”
Here’s his version:
via Laughing Squid
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking
Ian Allen, Former Negativland Member, Dead at 56
by Kory Grow
January 22, 2015
The musician helped usher in the band’s notion of “culture jamming” and was most active in the group during the Eighties
Onetime Negativland member Ian Allen died on January 17th, a result of infections and complications following heart-valve replacement surgery at a hospital in Sanford, California. He was 56. The band reported the news on its Facebook page.
A member during their 1983 album A Big 10-8 Place, Allen was part of the group on the vanguard of “culture jamming,” the wry use of existing recorded material and tape splicing, joining the eras between John Cage and contemporary hip-hop sampling. He was most active between 1981 and 1987, leaving before the group’s critically acclaimed, confrontational mid-Eighties run on punk label SST. That run included their 1991 U2 EP, which kickstarted a legendary court case over unauthorized samples.
“His impact, inspiration and influence on the group is impossible to overestimate,” the group wrote in its statement. “There would be no group as we know it today, no Over The Edge radio show [on KPFA], no ‘culture jamming’ and no A Big 10-8 Place LP without him.”
Read the rest of this article here.
Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters, Urban Legends
If you’ve ever seen this man in your dreams, you’re not alone. Famed prankster Andrea Natella’s long-lived dreamy hoax just caught VICE sleeping.
Read VICE’s mea culpa: Ugh, We Just Got Hoaxed: The Real Story About the ‘This Man’ Dream Face, January 15, 2015
Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Prank News, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, Spin
It was an idea that practically shimmered with brilliance: Have packages full of glitter shipped to your enemies, assuring they won’t get your sparkly animus out of their sweaters for a long time. It exploded on blogs and social media, and now Matthew Carpenter, its creator, is not having fun anymore. He’s trying to sell the business after just one day. Sounds like a marketing ploy if there ever was one. “This is too successful. Please take it off my hands for a lot of money.”
“Evil genius behind ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter’ didn’t quite think it through”
by Andrea Romano
January 15, 2015
Mathew Carpenter has made a huge mistake, and much like his creation, it’s not going anywhere for a while.
The 22-year-old creator of ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com — and self-proclaimed person who “live[s] for moolah” on Twitter — is urging his millions of fans to stop using his brilliantly evil website to get revenge on their enemies.
After a boom in sales that also caused a temporary site crash, Carpenter decided he is in way over his sparkly head and put the site up for grabs to anyone who wants to buy it from him.
He also posted on the website ProductHunt.com, pleading with customers to stop buying his shiny and swift revenge methods.
Read the rest here.
Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Practical Jokes and Mischief
From Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere:
On Sunday, January 11th, 2015 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, [the] 14th Annual No Pants Subway Ride had over 4,000 participants, spread out over seven meeting points and eleven subway lines.
More photos and info here.
Filed under: Media Pranks, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts, The History of Pranks
In some cases, Letterman has been seemingly ambushed by guests who were physically combative (Crispin Glover), doped out of their gourds (Farrah Fawcett, Harmony Korine), or simply engaging in the unhinged antics that are their calling cards (Courtney Love, who inspired the host to quip, “I’m glad I have a son.”)
In others, the hosts and his guests have worked in collaboration. Witness the legendary encounter between comedian Andy Kaufman and wrestler Jerry Lawler.
More recently, actor Joaquin Phoenix used a disturbing and incoherent Letterman appearance to promote his controversial documentary I’m Still Here, for which he embarked on a half-assed hip hop career. Letterman later admitted that he was in on the gag.
Filed under: Publicity Stunts, Spin
Promotional materials for the Discovery Channel program Eaten Alive led some viewers to expect that they would see host Paul Rosolie devoured by a wild anaconda. When he wasn’t, animal-rights activists and passive sadists alike expressed dismay.
‘Eaten Alive’ Watched by 4.1 Million Viewers
by Lynn Elber
December 8, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Discovery Channel’s “Eaten Alive” special that pitted snake against man drew more than 4 million viewers, but not all considered it time well spent.
Although the title and a promotional video indicated that naturalist Paul Rosolie would be swallowed by a giant anaconda, Sunday’s pre-taped special didn’t go that far.
Rosolie, described by Discovery as a snake researcher and conservationist, ended his Amazon jungle encounter with the snake after it encircled his body and began squeezing. Wearing bulky protective gear, Rosolie escaped with a sore arm but uneaten.
Online, some viewers jeered the show for falling short of its promise. One posting showed a photo of a mild-looking dog nibbling on a person’s finger, accompanied by a request for their own Discovery show. (more…)
Filed under: Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News
It takes a special sort of engineer to look at a common port-o-let, think “this brave soul longs for flight,” and make it happen. Bob Bylander is that engineer.
On Saturday, December 13, a Porta-Potty took to the skies over Southwest Michigan courtesy of Bylander and his compatriots in the Michiana Rocketry Club, a/k/a the Throne Thrusters.
Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Media Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Pranksters
The December 15, 2014 issue of New York magazine reported that 17-year-old Mohammed Islam brought down $72 million swapping stocks between classes, but the story quickly dissolved into a mixture of journalistic credulity and outright bullshit. After a cancelled TV appearance and protests from his fellow members of the high school Leaders Investment Club, Islam comes clean in a chat with the New York Observer.
“New York Mag’s Boy Genius Investor Made It All Up”
by Ken Kurson
The New York Observer
December 15, 2014
It’s been a tough month for fact-checking. After the Rolling Stone campus rape story unraveled, readers of all publications can be forgiven for questioning the process by which Americans get our news. And now it turns out that another blockbuster story is—to quote its subject in an exclusive Observer interview — ”not true.”
Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the ‘high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”
And now it turns out, the real number is… zero.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Islam and his friend Damir Tulemaganbetov, who also featured heavily in the New York story, the baby-faced boys who dress in suits with tie clips came clean. Swept up in a tide of media adulation, they made the whole thing up.
Speaking at the offices of their newly hired crisis pr firm, 5WPR, and handled by a phalanx of four, including the lawyer Ed Mermelstein of RheemBell & Mermelstein, Mr. Islam told a story that will be familiar to just about any 12th grader—a fib turns into a lie turns into a rumor turns into a bunch of mainstream media stories and invitations to appear on CNBC.
Here’s how it happened. Read more.