Satire

Satire uses elements of a prior work to target some other aspect of society, parody uses elements of a prior work to target the prior work itself.

Blog Posts

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.


In the White House, Fake News Is Good News

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Filed under: Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Satire, Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

The Trump Administration loves good satire at its own expense… as long as it doesn’t get the joke. #45 isn’t just parody-proof; he’s literally unbelievable. Satire is dead.


“White House Shares Parody Article as Real News in Daily Briefing”
by Ryan Grenoble
The Huffington Post
March 17, 2017

On Friday, as part of its regular “1600 Daily” email briefing, The White House included a roundup of links of news friendly to President Donald Trump’s administration, as it regularly does.

First on the list was a Washington Post article titled, “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why.”

If that headline sounds suspiciously servile to you, there’s a good reason why: It’s satire.

The column, written by Washington Post humorist Alexandra Petri, employs a clearly satirical tone in an attempt to justify President Trump’s proposed budget cuts to various departments.

“We don’t need to fund historic sites,” one section reads. “Those parks have sassed the administration enough and they must get what is coming to them.”

So either the Trump administration didn’t bother reading the actual article itself, or, even more troubling, read it but failed to distinguish it as parody. Read more.

CNN Barred from the White House, but Remy Tries to Prove them Wrong

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Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Media Literacy, Political Challenges, Satire

ReasonTV presents:

Watch the video here: Remy: Fake News


Impeachara: The Antidote for Trump-Induced Malaise

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Filed under: Satire

Talk to your doctor to see if this medicine may help with symptoms of T.I.A.D. WARNING: Side-effects may include normalization.

Thanks Nancy, Erin & Deborah!

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.”

(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.”

From Bright Bart News

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Filed under: Satire

Bart Simpson reports on fake news…



Getting Off to a Good Start with Hollyweed

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Satire

Update January 5, 2016: Meet the Artist Behind the Cheeky Transformation of the Hollywood Sign


Hollywood sign altered to read “Hollyweed’ in apparent New Year’s Day prank
ABC7
by Leanne Suter and ABC7.com staff
January 1, 2017

HOLLYWOOD (KABC) — Hollywood residents awoke Sunday morning to find the iconic Hollywood sign had been altered to read “Hollyweed” in an apparent New Year’s Day prank.

The sign was vandalized about 3 a.m. by a male suspect who was recorded on surveillance video, said Lt. Guy Juneau of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Security Services Division.

Dressed in all black, the unidentified vandal scaled Mount Lee, made his way over a fence and then climbed onto each of the landmark’s “O” letters, the lieutenant said. He then draped those letters with black tarps so they each appeared as a lowercase “e.”

Read the whole story here.

Thanks Andrea!

Cards Against Humanity Digs a Black Friday Hole

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

The team at Cards Against Humanity has a history of irreverent Black Friday stunts – we chatted with spokesman Max Temkin about the “Box of Bullshit” in 2014. 2016’s celebration involved a lot of money, a large hole, and that was pretty much it.


“Cards Against Humanity Threw $100,000 Into a Giant Hole Over Thanksgiving Weekend”
by Ed Mazza
The Huffington Post
November 28, 2016

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Cards Against Humanity offered its own Black Friday special: Send them money, and they’ll use it to dig a hole.

“The holidays are here, and everything in America is going really well,” the company wrote on its Holiday Hole website. “To celebrate Black Friday, Cards Against Humanity is digging a tremendous hole in the earth.”

The website featured a live camera of the hole being dug as a ticker listed the donations as they came in, telethon-style.

The company raised just over $100,000, which was enough to keep the digging operation going until Sunday morning ― and from the videos posted online, it looks like they dug themselves quite a hole:

The FAQ on the website offers the company’s trademark humor:

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?
Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?
No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?
You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

Cards Against Humanity is known for going against the flow on Black Friday.

Last year, they sold nothing at all ― for $5 a pop ― and earned more than $70,000. The year before that, they sold poop.


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.

How Your Fake Right-Wing News Gets Made

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Fraud and Deception, Hoaxes vs. Scams, Media Literacy, Media Pranks, Political Challenges, Political Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, Satire

Fake news sites have been booming this year, and well before that. But the name “RealTrueNews” probably should have tipped off someone.


“This ‘Conservative News Site’ Trended on Facebook, Showed Up on FOX News – and Duped the World”
by Ben Collins
The Daily Beast
October 27, 2016

aotprealtruenewsMarco Chacon had only spent about $20 on his conservative news website, RealTrueNews, when he heard his words in prime time on Fox News’ The Kelly File.

“Yeah,” Chacon said. “That was an accident.”

Just as he’d done for the last few months, Chacon had read the latest explosive conservative news—this time it was Hillary Clinton’s leaked speeches to Wall Street banks—and typed up an imagined transcript of his own.

“So in the transcript, she’s explaining Bronies to the Goldman Sachs board of directors,” said Chacon. “Do you know what Bronies are?”

Bronies are hard-core, usually adult fans of the cartoon My Little Pony.

“In this one, [Bronies] are part of a threat of subalterns who are going to take over the election. And people believe all this,” he said. “And I’m just… I’m telling people, ‘How can you believe this!?’”

Somewhere in the middle of that block of text about My Little Pony, Chacon’s transcript contained the phrase “bucket of losers,” attributed, falsely of course, to Clinton, which legitimate conservative news websites picked up as real.

Sure enough, by 9 p.m. that day, Trace Gallagher was on Fox News telling viewers that Clinton had “apparently called Bernie Sanders supporters a ‘bucket of losers.’” (Megyn Kelly later apologized after the Clinton campaign vehemently denied Clinton said it.)

Taking official-looking documents at face value isn’t just burgeoning among alt-right media. It’s a tactic now endorsed by the Republican candidate for president. Keep reading.

The Great Modernist Poetry Prank

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Filed under: Fact or Fiction?, Literary Hoaxes, Parody, Pranksters, Propaganda and Disinformation, Satire, The History of Pranks

The Futility Closet podcast investigates two Australian army officers whose antipathy for the arts establishment inspired them to create a fake writer and receive embarrassing critical acclaim. Take some time to pore over the copious background materials and keep in mind that this predates the Sokal Hoax by almost five decades.


“The Great Australian Poetry Hoax”
by Greg Ross
Futility Closet
October 17, 2016

2016-10-17-podcast-episode-126-ern-malleyIn 1943, fed up with modernist poetry, two Australian servicemen invented a fake poet and submitted a collection of deliberately senseless verses to a Melbourne arts magazine. To their delight, they were accepted and their author hailed as “one of the most remarkable and important poetic figures of this country.” In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll tell the story of the Ern Malley hoax, its perpetrators, and its surprising legacy in Australian literature.

We’ll also hear a mechanized Radiohead and puzzle over a railroad standstill. Read more.

A Visit to Scarfolk, the UK’s Weirdest Fake Town

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Filed under: Art Pranks, Prank News, Pranksters, Satire, The Prank as Art

Atlas Obscura presents a tourist’s guide to Richard Littler’s eerie, anachronistic, made-up universe. Fans of Welcome to Night Vale may be particularly intrigued.


“Digging Through the Archives of Scarfolk, the Internet’s Creepiest Fake Town”
by Cara Giaimo
Atlas Obscura
October 17, 2016

scarfolkIn 1978, the town of Scarfolk, in northwest England, cut its police budget in half. This drastic measure was followed by a wave of violent crime. To deal with the influx of dead bodies, the remaining police did the obvious thing—they teamed up with the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign, and encouraged citizens, especially children, to pick up “victim debris” themselves.

If this sounds too grotesque to be true, don’t worry—it is! There were never any smiling, appendage-finding kids in Scarfolk, because Scarfolk never existed. But the town’s online presence is meticulously detailed and impressively creepy. For three years, graphic designer Richard Littler has been using his design skills and bone-dry wit to write a whole history of Scarfolk, a fictional, supernatural-tinged town that finds humor in dystopia, and is closer to today’s world than we might like to think.

Scarfolk is perpetually stuck in the 1970s, and repeats the decade on loop. On his blog, “Scarfolk Council,” Littler presents the town’s story through materials from the council’s “archive”: posters, pamphlets and packaging that reveal aspects of everyday life. Carefully Photoshopped and inspired by real source material, Littler’s creations pack a punch—with their pastel, large fonted bombast, they could easily be mistaken for actual ’70s artifacts. Read more.