A fake – and very clever -- free special issue of the New York Post was passed out to thousands of stunned New Yorkers Monday. What caught their eye at first was that the usually Neanderthal-conservative Post had apparently gotten religion about global climate change.
But the real stunner were the ads inside for such products as Tap Water (“It is . . . sugar-free, bottle-free, free, not yet owned by Coca-Cola ...”) and the hilarious getaway travel ad that was actually for Sex. ("Why Travel? You just wanted to get laid anyway, right?)
Note the small-type disclaimer on the Sex ad: “Actual costs may vary contingent on prior agreements and any applicable non-binding contracts. May include the price of some booze, a pizza, and 4 rented movies. Reciprocal activity may be considered obligatory depending on prior arrangements. This offer has no cash value, is non-transferable, and is only valid for consenting guests over the age of 18 (check your local laws.) Not responsible for bad choice of partners, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction (E.D.), general frigidity, budding addictions, and/or resulting disinterest in all other activities. Be sure to practice sex SAFELY. We do not assume any errors or omissions within the content of this ad.”
The parody is "a limp effort" having "none of the wit and insight" of the real tabloid, the Post sniffed. This from a paper known for such headlines as "Headless Body in Topless Bar" and the "scoop" that Dick Gephardt would be the Democrats' vice-presidential candidate in 2004.
Visually, the fake issue orchestrated by The Yes Men troupe is a dead ringer for the real Post, so much so that New Yorkers tell me they were fooled. There are the punny headlines, like “Flopenhagen: Will Things Go Rotten in the State of Denmark?” and “The Coal’d Hard Truth: They Get the Mine, We Get the Shaft”.
The poorly designed knockout type on Page 1 is classic Post. A printing geek tells me the only reason the type in the red box was legible is that the print quality exceeded that of the real New York tabloids. (His advice: Don't use sans-serif fonts in knockouts.)
For more on this elaborate prank, see:
- The PDF version of the entire fake newspaper.
- The bogus Web site for the spoof.
- A brief video allegedly documenting New Yorkers' reactions to the paper.
- CNN.com's story on the prank and the motivation behind it.
- The Post's reaction.