Political Challenges

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Get Your Top Secret Cover Sheet for Classified Information

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

A gift from Joey Skaggs:

Just like Ex-President Donald Trump, you can have your very own Classified Top Secret Cover Sheet. Use it to secure your private papers or gift it to other people so they can protect their documents too.

Download and print your Top Secret Cover Sheet here.

And, if you don’t already have one, print your own customizable and framable Donald J. Trump Presidential Pardon created by artist Joey Skaggs (just change out his name for yours).

Announcing New York City’s 37th Annual April Fools’ Day Parade (2022)

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, The History of Pranks

The 37th Annual New York April Fools’ Day Parade goes worldwide and kicks off early with a call to everyone to activate everywhere.

“MASK UP. HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF PUTIN!”

This year, New York’s beloved annual April Fools’ Day Parade, which pokes fun at outrageous displays of dishonesty, greed, hypocrisy, deceit, and bigotry, is going global. For the past 36 years, the public has been invited to create outrageous floats and dress up as look-alikes in colorful costumes to reflect the folly of duplicitous politicians, crooked corporate leaders, superficial celebrities, and whoever else has proven to be a total fool in the past year. The parade, which has always been a protest against war, corruption, propaganda and deceit, has marched down 5th Avenue from 57th Street to Washington Square Park for the crowning of the King of Fools.

This past year has provided no shortage of fools to choose from, but nothing can top the most egregious, corrupt, exploitive, vile and horrific actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The theme of the 2022 parade is “MASK UP. HELP STOP THE SPREAD OF PUTIN!” and we’re not waiting for Friday, April 1st, to start the parade. People everywhere are encouraged to activate IMMEDIATELY.

We stand with the people of Ukraine and with Russians who oppose Putin’s despotic aggression. To help make their voices heard, we’re offering these Putin masks to download, share, print, wear, and put in public places everywhere.

Individual masks and instructions for use are here.

Says Parade organizer Joey Skaggs, “Use your freedom to express yourself. Silence is consent.”

Activists Tanked CBS’s “The Activist”

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Creative Activism, Hype, Political Challenges, Spin

Reality TV got caught trying to be real. CBS was casting for a new reality TV show called The Activist where social issue crusaders would be pitted against each other. h/t Naomi

POSTSCRIPT: The loud outcry against this pathetically bad idea resulted in a complete reconfiguring of the show.


Inside ‘The Activist’ Meltdowns as the Entire Shitshow Spiraled Out of Control, by Cheyenne Roundtree. The Daily Beast, September 15, 2021

The backlash against “The Activist” continues, with an open letter and response from host Julianne Hough. The Daily Beast spoke with two activists who were approached by the show.

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway

It took just a few hours for CBS’s new reality competition The Activist to be globally panned. A Frankenstein mashup of a Hunger Games-style dystopian world mixed with hints of Survivor and The Apprentice, the show places six activists into teams and pairs them with a “high-profile public figure” to duke it out in challenges to promote their various causes. At the end of the five-episode series, they will have the chance to pitch their cause at the G20 Summit in Rome. Whoever secures the most funding wins the show.

Instead of world leaders or any sort of mission-driven experts being tapped to host the show, Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Julianne Hough will serve as co-hosts and offer up advice to the contestants.

The Daily Beast reviewed the six contestants’ social media accounts—including TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram profiles—which were all created in August. One posted, “Help me win by commenting and liking my posts through the next few missions!” Another contestant thanked his followers for donating to his GoFundMe, which went towards covering the unpaid time off he took as an elementary teacher in order to compete on the show.

Needless to say, the announcement of a show that pits serious causes against one another and then relies on superficial social media metrics to determine which campaign is more successful—in the middle of global pandemic—did not go over well.

Read the rest here.

Brilliant Anti-Gun Violence Activism

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Former NRA President David Keene, and gun rights activist John Lott neglected to do their own background checks when they were invited to speak at the graduation ceremony of a non-existent high school in Las Vegas.


A Parkland Victim’s Dad Tricked A Former NRA President Into Speaking At A Fake Graduation, by Amber Jamieson, Buzzfeed News, June 23, 2021

Instead, the 3,044 empty seats represented the students who did not graduate this year because they were killed by gun violence.

In a speech to the James Madison Academy 2021 graduating class, David Keene, a former NRA president and current board member of the gun rights group, called on the teens to fight those looking to implement tighter gun restrictions.

“I’d be willing to bet that many of you will be among those who stand up and prevent those from proceeding,” he said, to a Las Vegas stadium of thousands of socially distanced chairs on June 4.

“An overwhelming majority of you will go on to college, while others may decide their dream dictates a different route to success,” said Keene. “My advice to you is simple enough: follow your dream and make it a reality.”

In a speech to the James Madison Academy 2021 graduating class, David Keene, a former NRA president and current board member of the gun rights group, called on the teens to fight those looking to implement tighter gun restrictions.

“I’d be willing to bet that many of you will be among those who stand up and prevent those from proceeding,” he said, to a Las Vegas stadium of thousands of socially distanced chairs on June 4.

“An overwhelming majority of you will go on to college, while others may decide their dream dictates a different route to success,” said Keene. “My advice to you is simple enough: follow your dream and make it a reality.”

The full article and more videos are here, complete with former NRA President David Keene’s, author and gun rights activist John Lott’s self-righteous perspective on the prank.

The Guerrilla Girls Are Asking:

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire

“Are there more naked women than women artists in museums?”
The Male Graze


ACTIVISM: Does art imitate life or life imitate art?, by Anne Douglas, Morning Star Online, June 25, 2021

That’s the question posed by no-holds-barred activists The Guerrilla Girls in their latest assault on male behaviour in the arts

Pic credit: Rob Melen, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea

GUERRILLA GIRLS, the anonymous group of US feminist female artists devoted to fighting sexism and racism within the art world, are bringing their unique form of “culture jamming” to billboard displays across Britain.

They formed in New York City in 1985 with the mission of highlighting gender and racial inequality in the visual arts community and, to remain anonymous, members don gorilla masks and use pseudonyms referencing deceased female artists.

Their latest project involves large-scale billboards across Britain in iconic locations from Glasgow Barrowlands to London Bridge, countryside locations and seaside towns until July 18.

They are part of The Male Graze which explores bad male behaviour through the lens of art history.

“What art historians call the male gaze, the masculine, heterosexual perspective in European and American art, mostly by white men, that depicts women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer, we call The Male Graze,” The Guerrilla Girls said.

“Lots of women are naked in post-colonial Western art. Some are idle: sleeping, splayed out on beds and couches, lounging around with their friends, bathing and maybe even dancing.

“When active, there is usually a sexual element present — voyeurism, seduction, harassment, assault, rape and sometimes murder.

Read the full article here.

Joey Skaggs Oral History Film Series Launches

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, Why Do a Prank?

ANNOUNCING:

Joey Skaggs Satire and Art Activism, 1960s to the Present and Beyond

A new series of short oral history films,
produced and directed by Judy Drosd with Joey Skaggs

 

UPCOMING SCREENINGS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE HERE



This “sticky” post will be here for a while. Scroll down for other posts.


A Look at the Probable Genesis of QAnon

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Prank News, The History of Pranks, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

When media literacy and critical thinking are absent, the world becomes a much more dangerous place. Check out this very illuminating Buzzfeed link as well (in the 2nd paragraph below).


QAnon: the Italian artists who may have inspired America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, by Eddy Frankel, The Art Newspaper, January 19, 2021

An anonymous left-wing art group known in the 1990s as Luther Blissett are wondering what they have unwittingly helped create

Q, the 1999 novel by the anonymous Italian art collective Luther Blissett, has notable similarities with the workings of QAnon

As the US Capitol was overwhelmed by Donald Trump supporters in early January, one figure stood out: with his painted face, bare chest, fur hat and American flag-draped spear, Jake Angeli became one of the most photographed rioters of the day. He is also known as the “QAnon Shaman” and has been seen waving a “Q sent me” placard in other protests.

QAnon is America’s most dangerous conspiracy theory, and if you pull hard enough on its threads, the whole tangled mess lands, somehow, at the feet of a group of Italian artists. It might sound like a conspiracy within a conspiracy, but, as Buzzfeed first reported in 2018, chances are that QAnon, at the start at least, took inspiration from an amorphous organisation of leftist artists who, for most of the mid-1990s, called themselves Luther Blissett after the 1980s English footballer.

They used the Watford and England striker’s name as a nom de plume, perpetrating countless media hoaxes, pranks and art interventions. They started raves on trams that turned into riots, they released albums, wrote books and manifestos, they mocked, questioned and undermined the mainstream, and they grew and grew until hundreds of people around the world were calling themselves Luther Blissett.

In the process, with their media-jamming hoaxes, they helped lay the groundwork for QAnon, a conspiracy theory about a secret satanic cabal of child abusers which controls the world. During the 2016 presidential elections, it famously gave rise to the rumour that Hillary Clinton ran a paedophile ring in a pizza parlour, Comet Ping Pong. More recently, QAnon has become a mainstay of far-right protests and riots, including the US Capitol insurrection. (more…)

The Art of Protest, a New Film by Indecline

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Media Pranks, Parody, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Check out Indecline’s new film in Rolling Stone. h/t Dino


From: Indecline Debuts ‘The Art of Protest’ Documentary, Rolling Stone

In activist-artist collective Indecline’s new documentary, protest art is shown as not only relevant, but necessary for change

When Indecline started work on their documentary The Art of Protest in late 2018, they wanted to tell the history of resistance art. Over the previous two years — since they broke onto the national consciousness with their naked-Trump, guerilla-art instillation The Emperor Has No Balls, the activist-artist collective has staged numerous pieces of public art in protest of the Trump presidency. To tell the story, they reached out to Colin Day (director of Saving Banksy) and started shopping around the idea to streaming services. But as the pandemic unfolded, and the Black Lives Matter movement reignited across the streets of the nation, their mission changed. As a representative for Indecline puts it: “What was once set up to be a deep dive into the history of resistance art, soon became a ‘call to action.’”

Now, the 45-minute film — executive produced and distributed by Zero Cool films and premiering here on Rolling Stone — traces the history of protest art, from the Civil Rights movement through the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests. It does so in a way that is equal parts gut-wrenching and exhilarating, illustrating how despite the passage of time, little has changed. To this end, they were careful in their curation of who to talk to: not only did they bring in the heavy hitters most associated with the modern protest-art movement — like Shephard Fairey, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Tom Morello, and Dave Navarro (who also helped to finance the film) — they were careful to incorporate a wider range of voices. Leaders from youth-run 501(c) The Sunrise Movement talk about uniting movements, while the Yes Men discuss bringing absurdity to Capitol Hill. Atlanta’s Ash Nash remembers organizing the “Kaeperbowl” in Atlanta in 2019, spurring artists across the city to paint images of Colin Kaepernick in public places as the Super Bowl rolled into town. Damien Echols, one of the West Memphis Three, speaks to being literally saved from death row by protest art.

At the heart of the film is Indecline’s work over the past four years. Read the rest of this article here.

The Writing’s on the Wall

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Filed under: Creative Activism, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

Read a Trump lie on air at Radio Free Brooklyn and help promote voter registration.


Wall of Lies

A public art project displaying more than 20,000 Trump lies with voter registration drive

October 3rd – October 4th noon to 7pm
at Pine Box Rock Shop, 12 Grattan Street, Bushwick

Independent community radio station Radio Free Brooklyn (RFB) announces “Wall of Lies,” a groundbreaking visual art project one month before the presidential election of 2020. The project demonstrates the unprecedented lack of honesty from our current Commander-in-Chief.

Wall of Lies is a 50-foot by 10-foot outdoor mural with the 20,000+ lies told by Donald Trump (so far) while in office, documented and fact-checked by The Washington Post. Wall of Lies will be on public view on Grattan St from noon Saturday Oct 3rd until 7p Sunday October 4th.

“The countdown to Election Day is underway and Americans are already beginning to vote across the nation, in this time where misinformation is rampant, we feel it’s vital to use our voice to call out these untruths in a visually-provoking way,” says RFB Executive Director Tom Tenney.

The socially-distanced live event accompanying the mural includes a voter registration drive, and a live Radio Free Brooklyn broadcast on Sunday from 3-6 pm, Radio Free Brooklyn will be inviting members of the public to read some of Trump’s most egregious lies on the air.

“The original idea of the project was for a radio marathon, 24/7 on-air reading of all of Trumps’ lies on Radio Free Brooklyn for a full week before the election,” said Tenney, who has been in touch with The Washington Post and granted access to its database of Trump’s false and misleading statements. “However, once the pandemic hit and our operations moved to remote locations, the project was shelved. It was artist Phil Buehler who suggested reviving it as a visual art project.”

“It was just too good an idea not to happen somehow,” Buehler added, “since I’ve been making large-scale panoramic photographs of political events, a gigantic mural of all the lies seemed the perfect match to Tom’s original idea. Seen from a distance, it looks like chaos – perhaps an apt metaphor for this presidency, but when you step closer, you can read the individual lies, which are in chronological order color-coded by categories like coronavirus, Russia, immigration, the environment and jobs. Then when you step back, you can recognize patterns in Trump’s lying.”

The final piece of the project came together when Heather Rush, the owner of Pine Box Rock Shop, coordinated with grassroots voting activists Rep Your Block to set up voter registration next to the mural.

Read more in the Bushwick Daily: “Wall of Lies” Mural in Bushwick Will Display Over 20,000 Donald Trump Lies.

Shining a Light on Worker Protests at the Guggenheim

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Guerrilla projections highlight workers concerns.


“Open for Exploitation”: Artists Project Messages on Guggenheim Museum Ahead of Reopening, by Hakim Bishara, Hyperallergic.com, September 29, 2020

The artist-activist groups Artists for Workers and the Illuminator organized the projections in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

A guerrilla projection on the Guggenheim Museum’s facade, reading “Seeking New Management” (all images from Illuminator)

Yesterday, September 28, the artist-activist groups Artists for Workers (AFW) and the Illuminator descended on the Guggenheim Museum in New York for a series of guerrilla projections on its facade. The action was held in solidarity with the Guggenheim’s unionized workers and workers of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi ahead of the museum’s New York reopening this week (September 30 for members and October 3rd for the general public).

Traffic was scarce on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue when an old white van parked in front of the Guggenheim at 7:40pm last night. The vehicle, retrofitted to raise a large projector through an opening in its roof, belonged to the Illuminator. This is the third time that the group directed its projector at the Guggenheim’s spiral structure: It did it with the group Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.) in 2016 and 2014, and with Visual AIDS in 2015.

Members of the Illuminator setting up their projector in front of the Guggenheim

Read more here.

Always Check Your Sources Before You Get Outraged

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Propaganda and Disinformation

“Ghostwriter” global disinformation campaign takes aim at NATO


Hackers post fake stories on real news sites ‘to discredit Nato’, BBC News, July 30, 2020

Hackers have broken into real news websites and posted fake stories stirring up anti-Nato sentiment, a cyber-security firm has warned.

The disinformation campaign, nicknamed “ghostwriter”, has been ongoing since 2017, according to FireEye researchers.

It is designed to “chip away” at support for Nato in Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland, they said.

While the false stories are “aligned with Russian security interests”, it is not known who is behind the attack.

The disinformation campaign uses “falsified news articles, quotes, correspondence and other documents designed to appear as coming from military officials and political figures in the target countries,” FireEye said.

In some cases, false news stories were posted on real news websites without permission.

The attackers apparently gained access to the CMS of the target website and replaced old articles with their own content, or posted entirely new false articles.

They would try to spread the fake stories on social media before they were taken down.

In one example from last year, a Lithuanian news site published a fake article claiming that German soldiers had desecrated a Jewish cemetery.

In another, a fake message was posted to the Polish War Studies Academy website, claiming to be from the organisation’s commander. It called for troops to fight against “the American occupation”. Read the rest of the story here.

John Lewis, RIP

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

From @rebecca.solnit: “John Lewis, bigger than Robert E. Lee, Richmond, VA, last night.”

Sacha Baron Cohen Brilliantly Calls Out Social Media For Spreading Hate

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Filed under: Political Challenges, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation

On November 21, 2019, in accepting the Anti Defamation League’s (ADL) International Leadership Award, Sacha Baron Cohen shamed social media networks that, under the guise of freedom of speech, allow hate and lies to propagate world wide with dire consequences. Highly worth watching.


Sacha Baron Cohen gave the greatest speech on why social networks need to be kept in check
by Catalin Cimpanu
ZDNet
November 22, 2019

Actor says six US billionaires more focused on their share prices shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what is acceptable online.

Watch the video:

For an actor who made a career by playing silly characters, actor Sacha Baron Cohen gave yesterday one of the most eloquent and convincing speeches ever given in support of cracking down on large social media networks to prevent the spread of lies and hate speech that these platforms allow.

While accepting his award, Cohen touched on the role companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter have played in spreading lies and hate speech online, calling the sites “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”

Read the full transcript here.

Trump Dump

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Parody, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters

Donald Trump and family inspire artists and activists all over the world. Here are a couple of the latest examples:


Berliners Tried to Send Trump a Piece of the Berlin Wall to Suggest Walls Don’t Work
A German nonprofit inscribed a message to the United States President, sending it to Washington on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

image from Quartz

Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler, known as The Good Liars: “We changed the cover of Don Jr’s book to make it a little more honest and put them up in Barnes and Noble. You’re welcome, Junior!”

Homo Velamine Interviews Joey Skaggs “Maestro of the Farce” [Spanish and English]

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Filed under: Creative Activism, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Hoax Etiquette, Instructionals, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Pranksters, The Future of Pranks, The History of Pranks, The Prank as Art, What Makes a Good Prank?

Spanish Art and Activism Collective Homo Velamine Interviews Joey Skaggs [Spanish and English]


Joey Skaggs: “A fool is a fool, no matter what their political leaning is”
by Demófila Martínez and Luis Platypus
Homo Velamine
October 31, 2019

Joey Skaggs. PHOTO: Sam Ortiz for Observer

Homo Velamine: The increase of fake news in the media in recent years makes us feel that the limits between fact and fiction are more unclear than ever. In the documentary Art of the Prank (2015), you let the viewer peek into the creative process behind one of your hoaxes. The trickiest part seems to be deciding how far you can take it, without crossing the limits of plausibility and creating something that is impossible to believe. After all these years, does it still surprise you how far this limit can actually be pushed? Which of your performances would you say has pushed this limit the farthest and still has been successful?

Joey Skaggs: Pushing the limits of plausibility is the fun part for me. I create the problem and I create the solution. I take a gamble that what I’m doing is so ridiculous that no one’s going to believe it. I want it to be totally absurd because if the news media does fall for it, it will be even funnier and more effective in revealing their gullibility and/or hypocrisy. (more…)