All fun and games?

Published On:
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Printer-friendly version

With regards to America’s plethora of bizarre semi-holiday occasions, April Fools’ Day has always been a welcomed event on my list.

Light-heartedly twisted individuals, like me, might choose to spend the day covering optical mouse sensors with Post-It notes or filling dorm bedrooms with thousands of packing peanuts, but it’s the corporate giants of the world that faithfully unleash the most memorable April shenanigans.

From a sociological perspective, April Fools’ Day serves as a satirical look back at what issues have been “hot” in the public’s mind as of late.

This year did not disappoint: Expedia, an online travel company, offered cheap flights to Mars for just $99, saying, “Right now you can save more than $3 trillion on a Mars vacation — and in this economy, you can’t afford NOT to go!”

Also noteworthy was The Guardian’s announcement that “after 188 years of ink,” it was to be published entirely via Twitter, with experts weighing in to say that “any story can be told in 140 characters.”

The newspaper added that it had already launched a “mammoth project” to translate the entire newspaper’s archives into 140-character tweets. For example, they said one major story already completed was “… JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from the grassy knoll WTF?”

While all in good fun, the joke article touches on a very real fear in the news world — manufactured newsprint is going extinct, and fast.

More locally, Arizona residents who tuned into the Valley-based FM news-talk radio station KTAR got an unexpected shock. According to the April 1 story, “Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon … received word late Tuesday that the federal government had allocated $275 million in stimulus money for the purchase of 350 speed cameras to be put up in the Phoenix area,” including residential areas.

The online transcript of the KTAR report included a humorous map of all of the new speed-trap locations, and other hints to the broadcast’s falsities.

But many listeners, such as I, were caught aghast by the soberly delivered radiocast, which was made complete with personal interviews from state and local officials that had agreed to play along with the hoax.

Meanwhile, at the University, though the Obama administration has gotten off to a strong start, recent state-budget shortcomings have served as unfortunate proof that “change” has not yet come to Arizona. ASU’s college students and faculty are especially sensitive to bad news at this time, having felt the brunt of Arizona’s failing legislation more than anyone.

So, while at the end of the day, the Fools’ Day pranks — especially the budget-related one from KTAR — were all in good fun, it was assuredly concerning that the prospects they proposed weren’t unrealistically backward.

April Fools’ Day is a time to look back and laugh — I suppose it helps if the joke’s funny.

Hal is considering taking that $99 trip to Mars. Send him your earthling thoughts at hscohen@asu.edu.