We weren’t quick enough to write you an April Fools’ Day blog post today. In fact, I only realised it was April Fools’ Day at around 10 a.m. this morning when looking at an article on the NZ on Screen site about pioneering film maker Colin McKenzie. I thought: ‘That will confuse people who don’t know that he is a hoax … oh … yes, I see now … clever.’ It dawned on me that today was the perfect day to once again try to trick unsuspecting people with that fake-historic personage.
Forgotten Silver, the mockumentary directed by Costa Botes and Peter Jackson that introduced us to Colin McKenzie, wasn’t first broadcast on 1 April; but perhaps it should have been. Many viewers believed it was a true story because, I think, it tapped into our feelings of national pride and insecurity. We wanted to believe that one of own from our little country at the bottom of the world had been the first to do something.
Many April Fools’ jokes play on similar sentiments – you’re tricked because you want to believe. I’m not sure if anyone was taken in by our flying kiwi (last year’s April Fools’ Day effort), but if they were it was probably because in their heart they wanted to believe that our national bird isn’t so pedestrian.
Similarly, personal desires also would have been the reason why people fell for a trick by the Guinness company. I haven’t been able to verify this, so it may be an urban legend, but apparently Guinness took out a full page black advertisement in a UK newspaper. The fine print said if you soaked in a glass of water, you’d get a free sample of their beer. Many tried it.
Some April Fools’ jokes are brilliant satire, and others just silly. Today’s story that the Guardian newspaper is going to publish solely via Twitter fits into the former category. On the sillier side, last year Google Australia announced the launch of gDay, that could search web pages 24 hours before they were created. This year, they’ve changed the little yellow man on Google Maps street view to a little panda. Perhaps if we lobby them, they’ll keep it. I like it better and it’s gender-neutral.
What are your favourite April Fools’ jokes, past and present?