Comedy troupe the Yes Men spoofed the New York Times yesterday with an elaborate prank which saw hard copies of a faux NYT distributed in New York and several other major U.S. cities.
The feel-good parody edition was reportedly created to encourage President-elect Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises.
There’s a game angle to the prank as well. Among the stories in the parody edition is one which reports that the Defense Department’s popular America’s Army game has been cancelled as part of the elimination of the Army’s entire recruitment budget. In its place, the story says, the State Department will offer the more peaceful America’s Diplomat.
The avowed purpose of America’s Diplomat is to encourage young people to consider careers in the diplomatic corps, and to present non-military alternatives in a positive light. Where the ability to aggressively attack and kill opponents spelled success in America’s Army, America’s Diplomat stresses situations that demand negotiation, dialogue and peaceful outcomes…
Lenny Purvill, a 16-year-old player, noted an initial disappointment in finding his favorite online game replaced. “I liked to pretend I was in the army going on missions in Iraq. And blowing stuff up was fun,” he told the press. Purvill, who has been playing the game since he was 13, had been considering signing up when he turned 18.
His initial disappointment, however, was replaced by fascination as he facilitated a peaceful negotiations between Sunni and Shiite militiamen. “It was like, are they gonna shoot each other? No! They’re not! ’Cause I’m helping them settle their differences with diplomacy. It’s so awesome,” he said.
GP: "Comedy troupe" might not be the most appropriate description of the Yes Men. Their Wikipedia page terms them "culture jamming activists."