Bloggers, or ‘Web loggers,’ may not have invented April Fool’s Day (that would be Pope Gregory with his conversion to the eponymous Gregorian Calendar in 1582), but as with so many other things, they have taken credit for improving on it.
As the clock struck midnight on April first, several prominent bloggers created puckish, at times almost humorous, stabs at April Fool’s content. As you might expect, many were parodies of other websites and the conventions of the medium. “Bloggers are a world onto themselves,” said Jeff Jarvis, who runs the website Buzzmachine.com and who actually called this reporter himself assuming she’d be doing this story. “So, of course, they’d parody their world.”
Jarvis pointed towards two examples, both of which took as their target the 2004 Bloggie Award-winning site, BoingBoing.net. On BoringBoring.org, an anonymous prankster parodied the popular site by claiming it was (you guessed it) boring. BoingBoing wasn’t the only sacred cow slaughtered by this clever parodist: he or she even took a swipe at the bible of the information age, Wired Magazine, renaming it Tired. Also parodying BoingBoing was Gakker.com, another line-for-line take off that also saw fit to call Wired Tired. (In web parlance “gakking” means to use another’s content without permission; “tired” means no longer relevant.)
One well-known site, Gawker.com, which is normally dedicated to chronicling the comings and goings and fashion disasters of the Olsen twins and other topics of interest to high school students and Condé Nast editorial assistants, decided to mock its own obsession with topicality by purposely re-running old content. Lockhart Steele, Managing Editor of Gawker Media, the company that owns Gawker and several other sites, said the pseudo-time-warp was his idea. He then volunteered his writers’ salaries unprompted.
Gawker Media’s owner, Nick Denton, was also the subject of a parody. On NarcDenton.org, another anonymous jester teased the blog mogul for, among other things, having a large head. Meanwhile, Mr. Denton’s chief rival in the blogosphere, Jason Calacanis wrote a parody of himself on his personal site, calacanis.weblogsinc.com, that claimed he’d been tapped to run CNN and would be hiring Mr. Jarvis and “Anna Marie Cox” to host a new version of the pundit shoot-out show, Cross Fire. (Cleverly, Mr. Calacanis sprinkled his post with typographical errors—for instance, Ms. Cox, who edits a political site called Wonkette.com, spells her name with one ‘n’—in order to simulate his excitement at his new position.) “I wrote it all myself,” Mr. Calacanis pointed out in an email. “I was also in a movie once!!!” he wrote, referring to his small role in Wayne Wang’s The Center of the World, a film about a dotcom millionaire who falls for a call girl. “Nick Denton didn’t do anything funny, but I did!!!” (The unique punctuation was Mr. Calacanis’ own.)
Speaking of Mr. Denton’s Gawker Media stable, Defamer.com, a Hollywood gossip site, claimed actress Kerri Russell had been cast in a Terri Schiavo biographical film for CBS and Ms. Cox announced she’d become “an official liberal blogger.” “That made me laugh out loud,” said Jeff Jarvis, who placed a follow-up call to this reporter on her mobile phone several hours after this piece had been filed. “It shows the disjunction between bloggers and MSM,” that’s blogger shorthand for Mainstream Media. “As I said on MSNBC last week, blogs are the next step in human communication and evolution,” Mr. Jarvis was heard to say as this reporter hung up on him.
Some other April Fool’s sites of note: Standard-Deviance.com claimed its proprietor was retiring, even though almost no one knew she had been blogging to begin with. Gothamist.com mocked the widely held assumption that its content is generic by writing posts even more generic than usual. Daniel Radosh of Radosh.net poked fun at his critics’ contention that he constantly links to his older, “funnier” work by linking to an older, presumably funnier parody he created for a defunct website called ModernHumorist.com. MyBlogIsPoop.blogspot.com’s editor claimed he had a girlfriend, even going so far as to run several photos of a woman.
But perhaps the funniest of the April Fool’s websites was BorowitzReport.com, the home of CNN commentator and humorist Andy Borowitz, who led with the story, “BORDER CONTROL JOBS OUTSOURCED TO MEXICO.” For a man who makes a living selling dead-on satire and media send-ups on a daily basis, April Fool’s must be a lot like peering through a looking glass into Bizarro World (the home of Superman’s evil twin in the DC Comic books) where black is white, up is down, and unfunny is funny.
“Yeah, it is strange,” Mr. Borowitz said, calling from his private jet. “I can’t believe I get paid for what I do. I mean, I’m not even funny, yet I have an apartment in New York in a doorman building, a house in Los Angeles, a sports car, a boat, and this here Gulfstream V. Maybe the real fool here is the whole world. Which reminds me, I’ve gotta go jot down an idea I had for 50 Cent endorsing Sarah Wrap for a ‘Shouts & Murmurs’ piece for The New Yorker. Those pay $1500 a pop, and I can write them in about five minutes. This one’s gonna change the way people view Saran Wrap forever. It might even change the world.”
Pope Gregory couldn’t have said it any better.