Activist pranksters The Yes Men have pulled it off again. Yesterday morning as groggy New Yorkers made their morning commute to work they were greeted by a haggle of unconventional newsies slinging a spoof special edition of the New York Post with the front-page headline screaming, “We’re Screwed.”
Two thousand volunteers helped blanket the city and its boroughs with nearly a million copies of this incredibly authentic-looking parody of the notorious tabloid. The 32-page paper focuses exclusively on climate change with a wide range of articles covering everything from the NYPD’s transition to low-emission cars, to China’s recent push for renewable energy, the failures of the U.S. government to sign onto the Kyoto Potocol (let alone uphold our end of the bargain regarding the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), to even a Page Six item on Pamela Anderson’s new eco and animal-friendly fashion line.
The timing of the prank was calculated to coincide with today’s UN Summit where one hundred of the world’s leaders will meet to discuss with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon the crucial steps that are necessary to reduce carbon emissions. The meeting is a prelude to the upcoming Copenhagen climate conference in December, which many experts see as our last chance at drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions and diverting climate disaster.
While the special edition of the Post is most definitely an amusing hoax on a controversial tabloid and impressive example of creative nonviolent protest, the paper mainly serves as a resounding wake-up call to action. An ad in the paper not only gave readers phone numbers for President Obama, Governor Patterson, and New York senators Gillibrand and Schumer, it even provided talking points to push on the representatives.
“This could be, and should be, a real New York Post,” said Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men in a press release for the action. “Climate change is the biggest threat civilization has ever faced, and it should be in the headlines of every paper, every day until we solve the problem.”
After last year’s election the Yes Men pulled a similar prank when they handed out over a million copies of a spoof New York Times whose pages were filled with “All the News We Hope to Print,” including a front page headline boasting “Iraq War Over,” stories on Gitmo shutting down, and the passage of a national health insurance act.
However this time around, all the information contained in the special edition Post was based on actual facts—generating a different reception by readers. Last year when I helped pass out to unknowing victims the fake-Times, the paper had barely left my hands before I was met with a bewildered, “Is this true!?” Today, I passed out an entire stack of papers without being met with a single puzzled look or question regarding the “We’re Screwed” headline. While maybe some eyebrows were raised at the idea of the usually-conservative Post dedicating a slim special edition to discuss the consequences of global warming, it seems that most people are very well aware of our planet’s dire status, and perhaps what was actually printed on the pages of the paper is not really news, but just another reminder of the sad state of affairs of our planet.
If you don’t live in New York or didn’t get a copy, go to the amazingly well-done New York Post special edition website to read the articles, peruse the ads, and if you’re up for it, check out an incredibly dismal weather report. Or see people’s reactions to the prank on the accompanying video. And most importantly, to get involved go to tcktcktck.org or http://www.beyondtalk.net/.
As K-pop fans and Black organizers and artists are demonstrating, joyful, powerful movements draw more people in and reflect the kind of world we want to live in.
If soldiers train for armed combat, why wouldn’t activists train for toppling the political-economic structure that’s killing our chance for a just future? The stakes are just as high.
Uganda’s COVID-19 experience underscores the seemingly universal opportunism of authoritarians amidst crisis, as well as opportunities for resistance.