Political Pranks

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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.


Jon Stewart: “Bullshit Only” Replaces “English Only” Movement

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Filed under: Political Pranks, Satire

The bullshit is getting so deep, soon we’ll need to walk around on stilts.


Jon Stewart: President Donald Trump Is Making Bulls**t The Official U.S. Language, by Ed Mazza, Huffington Post, February 2, 2017

He also found what may be the one saving grace of the Trump presidency.

Watch the video…

Jon Stewart is back, and he wasted no time going after President Donald Trump.

Appearing on the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert” on Tuesday night, the former “Daily Show” host made some unusual wardrobe choices in honor of the new president.

“The president sets men’s fashion,” Stewart said. “I saw the inauguration, super-long tie, dead animal on head.”

So wearing a dead animal on his head — and a super-long tie — Stewart proceeded to read what he claimed were some upcoming executive orders. One of them was to make bullshit the official language of the United States.

“I, Donald J. Trump, have instructed my staff to speak only in bullshit,” Stewart read. “And by the way, none of that ‘Sure, I’ll speak bullshit at work but at home I’m going to use facts and real information.’ No! Bullshit all the time. Immersion: It’s the only way to be fluent.”

WhatsApp Fuels India’s #FakeNews Fire

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Media Literacy, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

India has a long history of politically motivated hoaxes and guerrilla propaganda. A popular messenger app has thrown it into overdrive.


“Viral WhatsApp Hoaxes Are India’s Own Fake News Crisis”
by Pranav Dixit
Buzzfeed News
January 19. 2017

The United States is currently experiencing a fake news crisis — bogus news articles disguised to look like real ones to mislead people, influence public opinion, and/or to simply use their massive reach to reap advertising profits. These operations are sophisticated, data-driven, and highly targeted. But in countries like India where internet penetration and literacy still lag far behind the US, misinformation tends to have a more grassroots quality. Twitter is a fertile ground for all kinds of rumormongering, but with just over 30 million users in the country, its impact is limited.

The primary vector for the spread of misinformation in India is WhatApp. The instant messenger is fast, free, and runs on nearly all of India’s 300 million smartphones. It’s also encrypted end-to-end, which means it’s nearly impossible to track what flows through it. Its real-world ramifications, nonetheless, can be brutal.

In November, WhatsApp rumors of a salt shortage sparked panic in at least four Indian states and caused stampedes outside grocery shops as people rushed to stock up. The government eventually debunked the rumours — but not before a woman died.

India’s misinformation problem predates the internet. In the early ‘90s, rabble-rousers in northern India trying to stir up tensions in Hindu and Muslim communities would mass-produce cassette recordings full of fake gunfire, screams, and chants of “Allah-ho-Akbar,” and then play them in car stereos at full volume in the dead of the night to incite communal violence. Read more.


An Obviously Fake Company Pretending To Pay Political Protestors is Invited to be Outted on Fox News

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Filed under: Political Pranks

After fake news about this fake company’s anti-Trump activities is embraced and spread by right wing agitators, Tucker Carlson invites the head of the group, radical activist Dom Tullipso (not his real name), to appear live on Fox News. Carlson apparently thinks he’s going to dazzle (aka publicly embarrass) the guy with all the ways in which Fox TV knows he’s a fake.

Instead, the prankster, who is clearly trying to be as absurd as possible, keeping the interview going as long as he can, while switching from being anti-Trump to pro-Trump, ends up making Carlson look ridiculous for grandstanding against something so obviously silly.

BoingBoing, January 12, 2017:
Obviously fake “paid protester” site sets right wing media aflutter

VOX, , January 18, 2017:
A prankster tried to troll Fox News live on air. It’s the strangest thing you’ll see on cable news

Watch the video posted by someone who clearly has a political ax to grind:

Snopes, January 18, 2017:
Demand Protest placed several ads seeking paid protesters in January 2017, but the “company” was not a legitimate one

Thank you Lori Dorn & Josh Seftel


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

Election 2016: The Laughter Has Died

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

It may be paying their bills, but the writers for The Onion are just as sick of this dumpster-fire election as the rest of us. Thanks to Scott Beale for the link.


“How To Satirize This Election? Even The Onion Is Having Trouble”
by Sarah Lyall
The New York Times
November 4, 2016

05onion-1-superjumboNow that it’s almost over and we’re all thoroughly miserable, is there anything funny left to say about this dreadful election? Even the writers at the satirical website The Onion were struggling the other morning to come up with fresh avenues of amusement.

Lounging around the writers’ room, they listened to the editor in chief, Cole Bolton, read from a list of potential headlines they had submitted for consideration. Some of them were pretty funny – “Trump Tells Supporters Next Stop in Movement Is Buying Luxury Condos,” for instance, and “Clinton Vows Complete Transparency for Remaining 6 Days of Campaign” — but by the end of the meeting, only three out of 48 had been selected as worthy of turning into an item for the site. A kind of comic fatigue seemed to be setting in.

“We feel like we’ve passed every single stage of despair, hopelessness and rage,” Mr. Bolton said. “This last week is just us strafing to find new angles, to put into words how horrible this experience has been.”

It’s not that The Onion, which began as a campus humor magazine at the University of Wisconsin in 1988 and went all-digital at the end of 2013, has not faced dismaying events before. Its specialty is finding satire even in topics seemingly impossible to satirize. “God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule” was its headline for a post-9/11 article in which a despairing God rails at the moronic nature of his creation. Keep reading.