Is April Fools’ Day over?
Playing pranks at someone else’s expense has never been all that hilarious, and the faux articles that newspapers routinely publish every April 1 have become so expected and precious that they totally lack spontaneity and audacity. April Fools’ is just some day invented by the stupidity industry to sell people useless stupidity they don’t need. And now, frankly, the Internet has come along and made the whole thing more pointless than ever.
Here is how one prophetic blogger put it way back in 2011: “April Fool’s Day on the Internet is basically just April Do Kind Of Whimsical Thing That Everyone Knows Is A Joke And Let’s Get On With Our Internet Lives Day. If it were any other trend, the Internet would’ve organically abandoned it years ago; instead, people know there’s a general expectation for April Fool’s content, so they force wacky, frivolous things into a landscape that already creates infinite wacky, frivolous things every minute of every day.”
It’s so true. It has become absolutely expected for media, marketers and individuals to produce April Fools’ content, which is then immediately rounded up online by news outlets, like this actual live blog at The Guardian. Most of us would probably be unaware of most of the world’s delightful tomfoolery without the help of these lists. Even The Economist rounded up what it considered to be its greatest April Fools hits. It’s all a big competition now.
But many of the pranks aren’t even pranks any more; they are ploys devised by the marketing departments of corporations to get a little buzz going for their brand, such as Procter & Gamble’s announcement in late March that it was launching bacon-flavoured mouthwash. P&G didn’t even bother to wait for April 1. It’s like Christmas Creep; soon companies will be releasing their April Fools’ jokes the day after Valentine’s Day.
Some of it can be (faintly) amusing, like Virgin Airline’s glass-bottomed passenger jet and Google’s launch of Google Nose, which uses “photo-auditory-olfactory sensory convergence” to let you to smell aromas on your smartphone and identify unknown odours thanks to a “15-million-scentabyte database of smells.”
But the fact we’re now talking about Google and Virgin airlines is a pretty good indication of what April Fools’ Day has become – just another chance to sell us something. We’ve been had again!