April Fools’ Day has become, for lack of a better word, a shitshow. A day of pranks played on and by friends has metastasized into overblown theater perpetrated by news outlets, corporations, and even governments.
Did you set your sister’s clock back an hour? Too bad, Scope has already goofed her with a fake ad campaign for bacon mouthwash that looks to have cost about $10,000.
Short-sheet your parents’ bed? How does that compete with Sony announcing it’s made cat headphones?
It’s time to draw a line in the sand: Companies, you are no longer allowed to participate on April Fools’ Day.
Scope and HBO weren’t the only culprits today. (Although, bacon mouthwash? We get it, people talk about bacon on the Internet, you are so damn trenchant.) Google, BMW, Subaru, Whole Foods, and Tic Tac are just a few of the other corporations that launched April Fools’ Day pranks. (BuzzFeed has a pretty exhaustive list if you want to check it out.)
These companies pull pranks on us every day by selling us crap we don’t need. Every one of today’s “pranks” was a standard advertisement, except for the fact that news outlets wrote about them as if they were news.
And no, said news outlets aren’t off the hook. Many (including the publication you are reading now) produced gag stories today. Is this unethical? That might be a sour assessment, but it’s born of similar concerns that arise when a company creates a prank ad or fake product: Why should an organization with a large budget and audience get to use those things to promote itself to increase said audience and, by extension, budget even further?
This distrust has sapped any fun from the (admittedly fatuous) holiday. Starting days ago, people on Twitter were loudly bemoaning the inevitable bullshit they would have to deal with on April 1.
Still, some of this bullshit was fun. Pranks pulled by Netflix, especially, were clever and well-executed. (They created humorous fake categories for movies and TV shows. Read more about it here.) Also, I humbly admit I thought the gag stories we produced were quirky and funny. Unfortunately, everything was lost in the noise of all the other boring, predictable pranks that have made the holiday so groaningly lame.
Alas, there’s one lone fix: no more pranks, corporations. Even the good ones. You need to quit it. Let us normals saran-wrap our buddies’ toilets and shoe-polish our dads’ binoculars for a while.
When the day becomes fun again, you can start participating once more.
Just don’t suck.
[Note: An earlier version of this post listed a prank executed by HBOWatch. They aren’t affiliated with HBO, they’re just fans (so it’s cool)]