Hello, friends. Happy April first. When I woke up this morning, I was happy for it to be April first, the dawn of a new month, ideally one of springtime excellence.
One of the first pieces of media I saw this morning was a promotional message from Starbucks, advertising a new line of stores just for dogs called Pupbucks. As a former barista, I’ve sprayed enough whipped cream into a tiny cup and passed it through a drive-thru window to buy that there was a market for dog-specific Starbs offerings. Then it hit me. April first is April Fool’s Day. Ugh.
Here is my thesis: April Fool’s Day is not fun. Pranks are not fun, and they have never been fun. They range on a spectrum from dumb to dangerous and I don’t think seeing people do them is fun anymore.
Remember all the media we’ve been exposed to that includes pranks? What first popped into my head was the Sprouse twins’ lobby antics on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and the tricks the two Lindsay Lohans played on each other at camp in The Parent Trap. Maybe pranks are only fun for twins. Either that, or they’re only relevant when you’re in junior high or younger. This is valid, I suppose. But besides being fun-loving and immature, as John Mulaney has pointed out, middle schoolers are also the meanest people on God’s green earth.
Pranks’ ultimate goal are to embarrass or physically discomfort the person on the other end. To make them angry or confused. I have never understood how that could be fun for someone. Sure, I think pushing the envelope can be fun sometimes for a laugh, but the premise of covering another person in some sticky substance or making them believe something that isn’t true demonstrates a lack of empathy. (This is also where I would like to formally apologize to my mother, who was the subject of THREE toy-snakes-in-purse April Fools’ mornings somewhere in the late 2000s.)
Some of the communication-based modern classic April Fools’ pranks are tacky and bad. Fake pregnancy? I hate it. Fake coming out? No. Fake death announcements? (I assume this is a thing based on everything else that comprises the culture of the United States in 2019.) A lot of subjects like this are very serious and treating them as a joke minimizes the experiences of people who come out as LGBTQ+, or have lost a child before birth, or may have gone through another of these hardships. All for a “prank?” Very dumb and I hate it.
And as much as my little advertising heart flutters at the occasional stunt, I’m kind of sick of corporate April Fools’ jokes too. Use that budget for corporate social responsibility. Build some houses. Donate some food. Help the environment. Maybe pay your entry-level workers what they deserve? Publicity is cool. But you can do it whenever. This is a weird brand tradition that I hope will taper out or evolve or die.
(Except for this one from DuoLingo. I found this to be a good piece of advertising that capitalizes on a human truth.)
I’m not trying to criticize you if you like pranks or April Fools’. And I’m not saying this as a narc who doesn’t want to have fun. (Although I AM very much against fun. I simply can’t stand the stuff!) I’m just tired. And we’ve got enough uncertainty, uncomfortableness, rudeness, and embarrassment to deal as people with human bodies. I don’t think we need extra.