Negativland Takes Credit Where Credit's Undue
BEFORE THEY PULLED their Lenny Bruce with the never-ending U2-Casey Kasem debacle (a grand mal prank in its own right), San Francisco noise-art band Negativland pulled this stunner: Hot on the heels of a February 1988 New York Times article about Minnesota teen David Brom's axe-murder of his own family (in which an "unnamed song" was implicated), Negativland canceled a U.S. tour that was doomed to lose money. The band claimed that they had been "advised by Federal Official Dick Jordan [fictitious] not to leave town pending an investigation into the Brom murders." In a press release sent by the band to its label SST, Negativland claimed that the "unnamed song" was in fact "Christianity Is Stupid," from their Escape from Noise album.
Within days, the story was taken up by numerous magazines (Pulse, BAM!) and run nationally, despite the total lack of factual evidence. Negativland, eager for publicity no matter how false, managed to inflame the media's desire by doing no more than re-stating their self-made rumors, and claiming their lawyer, Hal Stakke (fictitious) had advised them not to discuss the case further. With stunning ease, the story marched its way up the media ranks, culminating in high-profile lead newscasts on San Francisco prime-time TV, not to mention a lengthy article in the Village Voice. Media attention ultimately prompted a random stoning of Negativland member Richard Lyon's Oakland house, and significant critical derision toward the band.
Three months later, Negativland released their modern classic Helter Stupid....
PRANK #2: BAND VS. CORPORATE VENGEANCE
Vinnie and the Starüsters Sue Sony Corporation
MINNEAPOLIS LOUNGE ACT Vinnie and the Stardüsters--whose previous claims to fame include pretending they are Sonic Youth, running a campaign for the mayoral seat under the slogan "No Fat Chicks," and threatening to relocate unless a rock stadium is built for them--recently filed a lawsuit against the Sony Corporation and all its subsidiaries for "character defamation." The lawsuit is linked to an unauthorized appearance of one of their posters in the room of the snuff-film-making villain in the Sony Pictures release 8mm. "Vinnie and the Stardüsters were shocked to confirm the poster's presence in a crucial scene of the movie, directly linking the band to the underground world of pornographic snuff films portrayed therein," the band maintained, adding, "Nicolas Cage's snuff movie 8mm is not an accurate portrayal of our lives. We do not regularly kill women for profit, and we do not condone, or even enjoy, the killing of women on film." Vinnie and the Stardüsters demanded that Sony recall all 8mm videos from the shelves and make a public apology to the band.
Reacting to the lawsuit, the Sony Corporation immediately rushed into a countersuit against the Stardüsters' label, Gourmandizer, for copyright infringement resulting from an unauthorized Vinnie parody of the Sony-owned song "Sesame Street"....