Thursday, April 1, 2021

What's the Point of April Fools' Day Now?

 I used to like April Fools' Day, it was one day out of the year when media outlets could engage in harmless pranks.  One April Fools' Day, the morning drive show of the storied WLIR spun an elaborate yarn about an earthquake which shifted the borderline between Nassau and Suffolk counties  a few miles to the west... at first, I wondered what the hell they were getting at, imaginary lines on the map not being subject to flipping because of a minor temblor that no other media outlets had even reported.  The joke dawned on me as the news reports involved people in flannel shirts and pickup trucks being seen in areas fornerly in Nassau County.  At the end of the day, the hosts wished everybody a happy April Fools' Day, apologized to anyone who didn't get the joke, and a good laugh was had by anybody smart enough not to be bamboozled.

April Fools' Day just isn't fun anymore in this age of disinformation.  When 'Heavily-Armed, Distraught Illinois Stripper Travels to New York City to Rescue Mole Children' is an actual news item, what hope does the prankster or satirist have?  As much as I love The Onion, I pity the staff, because the actual headlines are wilder than the ones they dream up.  In this post-objective truth era, attempts to play April Fools' jokes tend to backfire.

Holidays set aside as a break from the established social order are a grand tradition, dating back to Saturnalia and continuing through Twelfth Night... holidays in which a Lord of Misrule was appointed to preside over the tomfoolery.  The problem nowadays is that we've had a Lord of Misrule who presided over every day, and had constituents who thought him serious.  Put succinctly, one day of harmless foolish behavior has no appeal when a third of the country engages in harmful foolish behavior.


Tom239 said...

Reminds me of Tom Lehrer saying, “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Yeah, we've actually lived in a post-satire era for some time.

Richard said...

April Fools is temporarily closed. Please visit our April Fools galleries for a virtual tour.

Anonymous said...

Funniest thing The Onion could have done 4/1 was to just put out a batch of straight "real" news articles (dunno, maybe they did, I forgot to look).