The Joke's Up

April 02, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

One reason I no longer do April Fools' pranks is that they rarely work. I ran into a bunch of them yesterday while perusing on-line and was uniformly unimpressed. None of them were clever, and almost all of them called immediate attention to themselves. I mean, did anyone really buy Peter Jackson's assertion that he was going to make "Son of Kong?" Everyone is primed to take every bit of news on April 1 with a grain of salt, so why bother to try? The amount of effort involved in planning a spectacular April Fools' prank is often more substantial than what is gained by the payoff. (I found one that I thought worked, although I was not fooled. A webmaster faked the "death" of his website and apparently got a flood of e-mails. However, I also ran into another website death that I thought was a fake, and it turned out to be real - just bad timing.)


It would be remiss of me not to join thousands of others in professing a profound sense of disgust over how the media (and in particular cable TV news) handled the demise of Terri Schiavo. That the tragedy and those at its center should be exploited for ratings and political gain is not just wrong - it's reprehensible. While members of the left and right used the situation to force their viewpoints down our throats, the politicians saw a chance to gain votes. (It is unacceptable that the United States Congress would waste thousands of taxpayers' dollars to interfere in a family matter and pass a meaningless bill designed to impact one person.) Meanwhile, there was a media feeding frenzy with every network practicing a game of one-upsmanship that was revolting to observe. (The Food Network is looking better and better. Who can argue with Alton Brown's exposé on cheese?) The only thing to be thankful for is that the death of the Pope is at least being handled with more dignity.