Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

When I was a kid, I was extremely jealous of my grandmother. I thought she had the best birthday in the world. She was born on April 1. Every year we celebrated her birthday with fun, pranks and general good humor. Unfortunately, the good fun that used to surround April Fools’ day seems to be disappearing, and fast. As I read the papers and perused the major websites on April 1 this year, it struck me how silly their Fool’s day pranks were. Everywhere I looked, the prank stories and jokes were so lame not even toddlers laughed, and the rest were so absurd no one was fooled. So what was the point? If people are not willing to take the time to put real thought into a prank article or story to make it seem plausible, no one will put in the time to read it. When people cannot get past the first paragraph of a story before figuring out it is a complete fabrication, it is a waste of everyone’s time. Worse, when these prank stories are so fake and over-the- top that readers barely look at them before losing interest, it hurts the real news of the day. Without getting too morbid on you, think of all the people who have died, been injured in car accidents, kidnapped and so on, whose stories have gone unnoticed because they were printed next to ‘diabetic cat invents cure for cancer.’ These poorly done pranks end up costing the very mediums they are presented in. People lose respect for papers, newscasts and Web sites that show awful attempts at humor. When these mockeries of comedy saturate society, they cause people to fall into a cynical state that prevents people from actually enjoying the true art of a well-executed bait and switch prank or a finely- woven yarn that titillates and challenges the reader to decipher the truth.

It seems even those committed to the art of a well-done prank are noticing this trend. George Clooney, Hollywood’s king prankster, even stated this year he would not pull any pranks because, “It is amateur, like drinking on St. Patty’s’ day.” Ever since Ashton Kutcher overwhelmed the TV world with his over the top pranks and cruel assaults on the stars with “Punk’d,” it seems people expect more from a real prank and far less effort into any mischievous deeds. People feel if you cannot afford a legion of actors and thousands of dollars in special effects, there is no point in putting in any effort trying to get the best of someone. Why waste your time trying to fool someone unless you can do it bigger and badder then the last guy right? Wrong. The truth is no one prank is better than another because of the amount of trouble someone put in to pull it off or the amount of money spent to trap its victim. The truth is, a well-done prank is measured solely on how well it fooled its unknowing victim.

More so, these exclusive jokes and manipulative webs of lies and half-truths are an excellent way to draw attention to their victim. They can also be a way to draw in viewers, readers and curious and nosy people. When a Web site pulls off a clever ruse or a newspaper is adeptly able to fool the masses, they attract more attention. People pay more attention and further explore the content they have to offer. They end up scouring every page of a website, reading a newspaper front to back, seeking more well done forms of trickery trying to see if they can detect the lies from the truth. The aforementioned real stories receive more attention as they get included in this prankster scavenger hunt.

The point is that, like with all things in life, taking time to understand something and then putting in the effort to do it the right way yields greater results for everyone affected by it. Moreover, when someone cuts corners and does something only half way or does not put real heart into it, it shows. This causes more harm than good and generally shows a lack of quality, which permeates everything they do in future in the eyes of those who view it. As my grandmother used to say, “If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right, or not at all.”

Ted Trevorrow is a third-year student majoring in English. He can be reached at ET666499@wcupa.edu.

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