Political Pranks

Blog Posts

A Vintage Vino Hoax

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, The History of Pranks

You may think academics will fall for anything. But have you met any wine snobs? Here’s a hoax flashback…


“The Winning Wine List That Wasn’t”
by Dan Lewis
Now I Know
May 23, 2017

If you’re a wine fan, Wine Spectator is probably on your go-to list for magazine reading. Fifteen times a year, it hits newsstands and subscriber mailboxes with ratings and reviews of various vintages and types of wine. And once a year, the magazine announces its “Restaurant Awards,” an honor for — you guessed it — restaurants. Wine Spectator’s website sets it up thusly: “Attention restaurateurs: If you’ve got a good wine list, you deserve the credibility and publicity that comes with a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award.” For example, here’s a screenshot of Milan restaurant Osteria L’Intrepido’s honor on the Wine Spectator website from 2008:

The cuisine type, the price range, a top-line summary of the wine available, and of course, some contact information for the restaurant itself. If you’re looking for a $70 dollar dinner for two while in Milan, and you’re willing to fork over a moderately extra amount for the wine, Osteria L’Intrepido may be for you. With more than 250 wine selections, you’re likely to find something that enhances your experience — or at least, that’s what the “Award of Excellence” would imply. Read more.

Gender Studies Hoaxers Kick an Academic Hornet’s Nest

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Fraud and Deception, Literary Hoaxes, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Parody, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

Skeptic magazine reveals an Alan Sokal-style hoax on the journal Cogent Social Sciences–an attempt to mock both what the authors perceive to be the excesses of feminist academia and open-access or pay-to-publish journals. So far, they have at least succeeded in getting a lot of attention, pro and con.


“The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct: A Sokal-Style Hoax on Gender Studies”
by Peter Boghossian and James Lindsey
Skeptic
May 19, 2017

The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial.

That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a “paper” consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.
This paper should never have been published. Titled, “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct,” our paper “argues” that “The penis vis-à-vis maleness is an incoherent construct. We argue that the conceptual penis is better understood not as an anatomical organ but as a gender-performative, highly fluid social construct.” As if to prove philosopher David Hume’s claim that there is a deep gap between what is and what ought to be, our should-never-have-been-published paper was published in the open-access (meaning that articles are freely accessible and not behind a paywall), peer-reviewed journal Cogent Social Sciences. (In case the PDF is removed, we’ve archived it.)

Assuming the pen names “Jamie Lindsay” and “Peter Boyle,” and writing for the fictitious “Southeast Independent Social Research Group,” we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory. The paper was ridiculous by intention, essentially arguing that penises shouldn’t be thought of as male genital organs but as damaging social constructions. We made no attempt to find out what “post-structuralist discursive gender theory” actually means. We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal. Read more.

Emoluments Welcome

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

Update: A new work from artist Robin Bell–Artist Projects Image Of Jeff Sessions In KKK Hood Across DOJ Building


The Trump Administration is so riddled with scandal, pranksters can hardly keep up with desecrating Trump’s properties. Thanks Naomi.


“Artist Projects ‘Pay Trump Bribes Here’ Message on President’s DC Hotel”
by Nick Visser
The Huffington Post
May 16, 2017

A multimedia artist caused a commotion in Washington, D.C., late Monday when he projected a series of images on Trump International Hotel that skewered the president over accusations about his business ties with foreign governments.

Robin Bell, a Washington-based artist known for his political projections, said the work was meant to highlight benefits Donald Trump continues to reap since his ascension to the presidency, including revenue generated at his D.C. hotel. The artwork, which went up around 10 p.m. local time, quickly spread on Twitter before it was shut down by hotel security.

“It seems like a very clear case of his impropriety,” Bell said. “It’s a great visualization of a clear-cut example of the laws that he’s breaking.”

Staff reached at Trump International Hotel declined to comment about the messages. Read more.

Recall Recoil

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

As The Onion has demonstrated, laughter is one of America’s last lines of defense against the firearms industry.

A complex stunt by some anonymous pranksters manages to goose gun culture, the Trump administration, public relations, and business ethics, all with a dark and funny spirit. Thanks to Naomi for the tip.


“Anonymous art collective trolls hundreds of Heckler & Koch’s US gun vendors with bogus recall prank”
by Anthony Smith
Mic
May 4, 2017

Earlier this week, 200 U.S. vendors of guns made by Heckler & Koch, a massive multimillion dollar international arms manufacturer, received letters purporting to come from someone named Martin Obermann, whom the official-seeming letterhead identified as Heckler & Koch’s Head of Transatlantic Sales.

Recipients were notified that, as of May 1, the international arms giant had “ceased the supply of firearms to the domestic market in the United States of America” and had begun “voluntary recalling all firearms from the sporting and commercial markets in the USA.”

The reason the letter gave? Donald Trump.

“Owing to the rise of firearm-related deaths in your country in conjunction with the threat of ongoing civil unrest and a highly volatile foreign policy under the administration of President Donald Trump, the German headquarters [of Heckler & Koch] no longer deem the USA a safe destination country for weapons export,” the letter — which claimed to come from an arms manufacturer whose guns have reportedly been used by the thousands in the Syrian conflict — said. Read more.


Art Gets Scary Again

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Legal Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Artists from Assistant Professor Thomas Chung to rapper Snoop Dogg are depicting political violence in their work. Should Trump be concerned? Hat tip to Naomi.


“Can Art Legally Threaten the President?”
by Scott Indrisek
Artsy
May 3, 2017

The right-wing blogosphere wasn’t exactly tickled when an Alaskan assistant professor decided to decapitate President Trump last month. To be fair, the violence was only virtual—the teacher, artist Thomas Chung, had painted an image of the Captain America actor Chris Evans, naked, holding Trump’s severed, bloody bust by a lock of his infamous hair.

Trump didn’t respond to Chung but he has previously taken to Twitter to slam others who have subjected him to artistic abuse. In March, the rapper Snoop Dogg released a video for the song “Lavender,” which includes an orange-faced Presidential doppelgänger pleading for his life while Snoop points a gun at him. The trigger gets pulled, but the weapon turns out to be a novelty toy.

Regardless, Trump was not amused. “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired a gun at President Obama?” he tweeted. “Jail time!” The dust-up between Snoop and the famously litigious Trump did have people wondering what the consequences could be for even coyly hinting at such violence in an artistic way. (Debunked viral stories circulated online falsely claiming that Snoop had been arrested.)

Turns out that both Snoop and Chung can rest easy, at least until the new administration attempts to erode or dismantle the protections provided by the First Amendment. (Keep in mind that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus recently stated in an ABC News interview that criminalizing flag burning is something that is “probably going to get looked at” by the administration.) Read more.

Alex Jones: Post-Reality Rodeo Clown?

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Filed under: Conspiracy Theories, Fact or Fiction?, Legal Issues, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Pranksters, Spin, You Decide

Talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began his career as an Austin eccentric, known for his associations with comedian Joe Rogan and filmmaker Richard Linklater. His paleoconservative media profile has risen steadily since the election of Barack Obama – he’s now better known for egging on Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, describing the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre as “crisis actors,” and throwing his bulk behind the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump.

Now, he’s engaged in a vicious custody battle, and his lawyers are suggesting that he’s not an increasingly unhinged paranoid maniac, but a performance artist playing a character.

Blogger Ken White adds some insight on the importance of this story.


“Alex Jones Says He’s A Performance Artist. Surprisingly, Actual Performance Artists Agree.”
by Priscilla Frank
The Huffington Post
April 19, 2017

Following his 2015 divorce, far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is embroiled in an ugly and somewhat bizarre custody battle.

In response to his ex-wife’s claims that the InfoWars founder and Pizzagate controversy propagator is “not a stable person” ― and therefore should not receive custody of their children ― Jones is arguing that his publicly jacked-up, trumped-up, vitriolic rants are merely instances of “performance art.”

Jones’ lawyer Randall Wilhite outlined the novel defense, telling those present at a recent pretrial hearing that Jones’ InfoWars persona does not reflect who he is as a person. “He’s playing a character,” Wilhite said. “He is a performance artist.”

Jones himself made a similar claim in early April while facing criticism ― and potential criminal proceedings ― after calling Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) an “archetypal cocksucker” and threatening in an expletive-laden rant to “beat [his] goddamn ass.” Jones later posted a follow-up video describing the comments as “clearly tongue-in-cheek and basically art performance, as I do in my rants, which I admit I do, as a form of art.”

Jones’ most famed “performances” to date include calling the 9/11 attacks an inside job, claiming the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was “completely fake with actors,” and suggesting that the American government is “encouraging homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children.” Is it possible that Jones has been putting on some sort of persona to stir up controversy and garner public attention? Of course. It is unlikely, however, and ultimately dangerous, that Jones’ approximately 2 million listeners ― including his most famed fan, President Donald Trump ― were all aware that Jones’ red-faced tirades are for show.

In calling himself a performance artist, Jones is referencing a controversial live art tradition with roots in the 1950s and ‘60s, involving movements like Gutai and Fluxus and individuals like Marina Abramović and Vito Acconci. One of the earliest artists recognized for her performances is Carolee Schneemann, who was recently awarded the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. In one of her most iconic performances, 1975’s “Interior Scroll,” Schneemann stood nude on a table, painted her body with mud, and extracted a scroll from her vagina, from which she proceeded to read.

When asked about Jones’ performance art defense, Schneemann responded swiftly: “I think it’s all a load of crap,” she told The Huffington Post. But ultimately, any attempts to strictly classify what is or is not performance art, she clarified, are futile. 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…)

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.


Banksy Enters the Travel Business

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The Prank as Art, The World of the Prank

The often-imitated, never-duplicated, street art legend Banksy opens The Walled-off Hotel in Bethlehem.


“Banksy Opens Dystopian Hotel Near Bethlehem Separation Wall”
by Tara John
Time
March 3, 2017

Graffiti artist Banksy has opened a new inn in Bethlehem, located right by the barrier wall that separates Palestinian territories from Israel.

The ten-roomed Walled-off Hotel opened on Friday and is littered with the anonymous artist’s work. As the Guardian reports, Banksy’s team hopes the hotel will become a source of revenue for the town — whose economy has languished due strict Israeli controls. The rooms will be open for bookings on its website later in March, according to the Guardian.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Banksy reportedly said: “Walls are hot right now, but I was into them long before Trump made it cool.”

The hotel was built in secrecy over the past 14 months and was converted from a pottery workshop. Styled to look like to “an English gentlemen’s club from colonial times,” the Walled-off Hotel hopes to spark dialogue, evidenced through its choice of artwork: Every room has what is touted as the “worst view in the world,” which is the 8-meter high concrete barrier.

There are also statues chocking on teargas, a painting of Jesus with a laser target on his forehead, a trophy wall of security cameras and an exhibition dedicated to the wall, that features art made by Israelis and Palestinians. Read the whole article here.


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.”

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Activism: Where the Action Is

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Prank News

The sprawling anti-Trump resistance movement has proven to be stronger, funnier, and more creative than any American countercultural force we’ve seen in decades.

As soon as the race was called, the backlash was inevitable. And, like ants at a picnic, the marketers were not far behind. The Guardian has a rundown on the new profits of rage.


“Sex Doesn’t Sell Anymore; Activism Does. And Don’t the Big Brands Know It.”
by Alex Holder
The Guardian
February 3, 2017

Three days ago I hadn’t heard of Lyft. Not until I was greeted on Monday morning by a right-on colleague demanding to know if I’d deleted my Uber app and replaced it with Lyft. On Saturday #deleteuber had been trending after many believed it had undermined a taxi strike at New York’s JFK airport protesting against Donald Trump’s immigration ban. By Sunday, with swift marketing prowess, Lyft’s CEO Logan Green tweeted that the company was donating $1m to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). Which led to Lyft’s downloads surpassing Ubers for the first time ever. They used to say sex sells; now, evidently, it’s activism.

Lyft wasn’t the only company flaunting good deeds this week. In reaction to Trump’s immigration ban, Starbucks CEO wrote an open letter to staff committing to hiring 10,000 refugees and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky tweeted that it was providing free accommodation to anyone not allowed in the US. Even Uber, presumably in a bid to outdo Lyft, created a $3m fund to help drivers affected by the “wrong and unjust” ban.

Companies are now attempting to outdo each other with major acts of generosity, but there’s a catch; they’ll do good as long as they can make sure their customers know about it. There is no room for humility when a brand does a good deed. They’re always Larry David and never the anonymous donor. (more…)

Trump’s Security Detail Unimpressed With Ballsy Golf Course Stunt

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Political Pranks, Practical Jokes and Mischief, Prank News, Pranksters

Noted British prankster Simon Brodkin hits Donald Trump where it hurts, and columnist Pat Kane reflects. (Feel free to share your own testicular puns through social media.)


“Why Serious Stuff Still Demands a Sense of Humour”
by Pat Kane
The National
February 4, 2017

So if you’re going to prank Donald Trump by chucking swastika-covered golfballs at him, as he opens one of his tremendous courses, you should do it at Trump Turnberry.

According to the comedian Simon Brodkin, whose stage name is Lee Nelson and who perpetrated said stunt last June, he was slumped in custody when a Scottish sergeant noted: “You’re that guy”.

“In that moment I realised I had an ally,” recalled Brodkin this week. “They loosened the cuffs so the blood went back to my fingers and asked if I wanted some Lucozade. Big love for the Scottish police.”

In next week’s Channel Four documentary Britain’s Greatest Hoaxer, Brodkin also relates that the Scottish police refused to let Trump’s secret service people interview him. Instead they sped him to the nearest airport and told him to “get the hell out of the country”.

As the furore rises around Trump’s potential state visit, the question of how modern dissent and protest is most effectively expressed comes to the fore. On this occasion, should it be a dignified boycott by political leaders (as all the Scottish political leaders did last June), and a protest action mutually agreed between activists and police? Or is Brodkin’s kind of hoax the best way to get an oppositional message under the plates of the Great Narcissist?

Watching the enthusiastic Brodkin’s preparations for his hoax – involving disguise, costume (a Trump Turnberry sweatshirt), bags hidden under hotel beds and the ludicrously easy detection of the Sunbed God’s itinerary – you imagine this kind of prank will never be achievable again.

The scene where his goons are scrabbling around the grass, filling red Trump caps with Nazi-balls, is inordinately pleasing. But no doubt the full apparatus – human and technological – of American and British national security will be sweeping and detecting every clump of cells that gets anywhere near the man-baby. Read more.


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