Looking at the War of the Worlds prank by Orson Welles, I personally lean two ways with the prank. Part of me thinks that it is sort of a one of a kind prank, but part of me feels that for our modern generation we have a new era of media pranks that is unmatched with Orson Welles’s. Firstly, it wasn’t the prank itself that made the War of the Worlds broadcast as big as it was, but the media’s excessive talk about it. There were newspaper articles and a so called mass hysteria about the prank. However, in reality not many people were even listening to the radio show. Thus, the real prank was with the media’s headlines that there was a mass hysteria when in actuality there wasn’t really a mass hysteria at all. It is because of the medias hype about Welles’s broadcast that this idea of a mass hysteria over the broadcast was created. So, in a way I feel that this prank is one of a kind, however I feel that this wasn’t really a media prank at all, because it didn’t truly work.
In our modern generation, I would say there are different levels of media pranks. After Welles’s prank, news broadcasters were more monitored with what they were saying and media pranks by those affiliated with the media subsided. However, with the creation of the internet, that all changed. Pranks became one of the biggest themes on the internet, the concept of trolling. For instance, rick rolling. That is when you are going about your day, and let’s say you are on Facebook and a friend messages you saying that they found a website that could help with your project for class and she sends you a link. You open the link and all of a sudden you are watching the music video for the 1987 Rick Astley song “Never Gonna Give You Up.” That is rick rolling. A link in disguise, if you will and was one of the biggest media pranks in 2010. However, currently for the past few years with the tremendous rise of YouTube, there is a new generation of pranks since we can easily record and share them. There are now YouTube channels dedicated to pranking, such as the “Boyfriend vs. Girlfriend” channel that prank each other, film it, and post it. Additionally, there is my personal favorite, the channel “Just For Laugh Gags” which include very well thought-out reality twisting pranks that are completely original and complex. I think they are some of the best prank videos out there.
In addition, I want to bring up the concept of publicity stunts. I would personally classify these as pranks. For instance, fake Hollywood couples, flash mobs, and promotional stunts, such as the 2010 “Zombies Take Over NYC” prank, which was to promote “The Walking Dead” television series. Pranks today can be shared to the world instantly and because of that publicity stunts resulted, and although they aren’t your typical “got you,” I would most definitely classify publicity stunts as media pranks because they are pranks on the general public. Media pranks today are a lot bigger than they were before the internet. Thus, I believe that Orson Welles’s prank cannot compare to the pranks we have today because of the technological difference and the effects pranks can have on society in modern times.