“Imagine we are fish swimming in the sea, and no matter where we look we see advertising, branding, marketing, and corporate/governmental coercive messages everywhere. What we once thought of as news, knowledge, politics, culture, art, music, and wisdom has all become one with this ocean of marketing and mind-control. What to do? How to keep one’s sanity, sense of freedom, and unique identity? What can we do to resist? Resistance is ultimately dispiriting unless we can also have fun. ‘The society that has abolished adventure makes its own abolishing the only adventure.’ [Situationist slogan] The last remaining quasi-legal territory of imaginative, humorous, creative, dissenting expression is signposted by pranks.
What are pranks? For us, pranks are any humorous deeds, propaganda, sound bites, visual bites, performances and creative projects which pierce the veil of illusion and tell ‘the truth.’ Pranks unseriously challenge accepted reality and rigid behavioral codes and speech. Pranks deftly undermine phony facades and hypocrisy. Pranks lampoon sanctimoniousness, self-glorification, self-mythologizing and self-aggrandizement. Pranks force the laziest muscle in the body, the imagination, to be exercised, stretched, and thus transcend its former self. The imagination is what creates the future; that which will be.
Why prank our world? When we look around and can see nothing but corporate propaganda as far as the eye can see, our only ‘communication freedom’ lies in creatively talking back, any way we can. Who gave corporations the monolithic ownership of our total environment to force their one-way coercive messages upon us? So if we replace their messages and symbols with our own, we must wear big hats and sunglasses and mufflers to hide our chins, so their ubiquitous surveillance cameras can be pranked. (Or, preserve our Internet anonymity behind layers of evasive tactics.) Imagine if everybody became artists and pranksters and poets and freely changed any noxious corporate message in sight? (It is too much to hope for our so-called legislators to come up with a bill outlawing all corporate advertising in public space, even though the majority of voters might endorse this.)
If we are not slaves and robots, it also behooves us to systematically start thinking about reclaiming all the freedoms that have, inch by inch, been taken from us over the years to serve the interests of corporations and wealthy landholders. Freedom is never willingly given; it must be taken. And Americans have definitely become less free since 1776, hundreds of thousands of laws later. In fact, how have so many humans worldwide been bamboozled into being content with their paltry, miserable lot in life?
Pranks may be our last remaining freedom of expression in post-Constitutional, post-Bill of Rights, post G.W. Bush America. This book is a mere introduction to the enormous body of unheralded, uncelebrated, undocumented pranking that has occurred just within the past hundred years.”