Y’all probably heard about the prank that The Yes Men pulled off last week. They got themselves invited to the Gulf Coast Reconstruction and Hurricane Preparedness Summit, and gave a speech pretending to be “Deputy Assistant Secretary Rene Oswin” of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “Mr. Oswin” admitted that HUD had failed in its mission to provide affordable housing for people in need (true), explained how HUD was about to demolish 5000 existing housing units to build new ones (true), and how they had formulated a new policy to leave those units alone, while increasing investment in the communities, providing basic services, and working to fix the New Orleans ecosystem (false).
While this particular hoax had a bit of a cruel edge (making some New Orleans residents think they might have homes to move back into), it also served to highlight the crueler reality. HUD and the federal government are not taking these compassionate and sensible steps to help out people in need, they are doing just the opposite. Hopefully the public humiliation of the stunt might cause the government to take some action.
On their website, The Yes Men tell us that we can help the folks of New Orleans by going to SurvivorsVillage.com.
And just today, we had another prank. Last month, useless socialite Paris Hilton released a CD in which, I’m told, a team of nuclear scientists and powerful shamans worked round the clock to make her sound like a talented songstress. Shortly after, graffitti/hoaxster superhero Banksy created a doctored version of the CD (complete with remixed parody songs) and distributed 500 copies to 42 record stores across Britain. Photos of the CD booklet here. The new booklet emphasizes issues of celebrity worship and class. My favorite is the fake sticker on the front which promotes Paris’ new hit singles “Why Am I Famous?”, “What Have I Done?” and “What Am I For?”
Banksy even filmed himself pulling off the stunt and put it on YouTube. Haven’t heard the songs, though, can’t tell you if they’re any good.
In related news, Banksy’s apparently having a three-day art show in Los Angeles this month, “Exact address available on the day of opening [September 15] from banksy.co.uk”.
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