“I didn’t at all mean to be insensitive to people who can’t have children,” read the E! News graphic of a pensive-looking, bleach-blonde Justin Bieber.
This photo and caption were the first things I saw when I rolled over, turned off my alarm, and began my morning scroll on April 2. Bieber offered his apology after he pulled an April Fools joke on his Instagram followers, attempting to convince them that he and his new wife, Hailey Baldwin, were expecting.
When the newlyweds posted a photo of an ultrasound on Instagram, they joined the illustrious cohort of “Celebrities who pretended to be pregnant” this year. Arie Luyendyk of former Bachelor fame commented “Made this mistake last year… definitely learned my lesson,” on the same E! post.
Lil Xan and his YouTuber girlfriend were accused of faking their pregnancy once fans noticed that the ultrasound they posted was the first picture to come up in a Google Image search for “9 week ultrasound.” Lily Collins also posed with a prosthetic baby bump on April 1, proving that fake pregnancy pranks are having a moment.
It seems that in the age of social media, celebrities have co-opted April Fools Day and turned it into “National Post a Lie or Badly Photoshopped Image Day.”
Have we fundamentally forgotten the difference between a prank and a lie?
In addition to the Bieber post, I was bamboozled by posts from two Real Housewives of New York, and Dr. Phil. Countess LuAnn lied about switching cities, Dorinda Medley posted a sad photo of an engagement ring and Dr. Phil appeared to have shaved his iconic ‘stash. Instagram was a minefield of blonde Mindy Kalings and spoilers for Game of Thrones (a show which apparently has a massive, rabid fan base.) As if Instagram weren’t enough, I received multiple-paragraph texts which seemed to be serious, only to end with the question, “Do you know the muffin man?”
I couldn’t help but wonder, when did we forget how to prank? And why did every B-list celebrity seem intent on sharing a lie, only for me to tag my sister in a panic, then for her to comment, “Haley, it’s April Fools Day still?”
Also why am I still following Dr. Phil on Twitter?
All of these are equally important questions. So I unfollowed Dr. Phil and did my best Carrie Bradshaw impression, which is to say, I was a bad friend and spent all my money on shoes. After that, I still could not help but wonder why we all were so willing to deceive and be deceived, rather than cover toilet seats with plastic wrap.
Ask George Clooney – a good prank can sustain you for years. After moving in with Richard Kind following his divorce in 1993, Clooney dutifully cleaned Kind’s cat’s litter box every day, eventually convincing his roommate that his cat was constipated. Until one day, when Clooney placed his own human poop in the litter box and said that it was the cat.
We could fill the paper with excellent pranks from George Clooney. We could probably fill the paper with excellent pranks that George Clooney played on Richard Kind only. And that is because Clooney understands what makes a good prank.
For those who may have forgotten, a prank is defined as “a practical joke or mischievous act.” Technically, a lie can be classified as a mischievous act, but if every other former contestant of Survivor is lying about writing a book, it’s high time you start relying on practical jokes.
Using the Clooney Guide to pranking, let’s help these B-list celebrities celebrate the true meaning of April Fools Day.
Firstly, the best pranks take time. Play the long game, like when Clooney had the costume designer on Monuments Men take in Matt Damon’s pants a little bit each day, driving Damon to dieting madness.
Secondly, the best pranks incite shock, awe and disbelief. In theory, a lie can cause as much, if not more outrage than a practical joke. Yet, it is the effort that will be the most disturbing element and drive the prankee to the edge of insanity. Why do you think Sally Field gets so upset at the end of Mrs. Doubtfire? Not because her husband lied and said he was the kids’ British nanny, but because the twisted prank lasted months and required meticulous drag makeup, hair and wardrobe every day!
We need to rediscover the glory of a true, unbridled prank. Usually, I roll my eyes when old people (anyone over the age of 25) tell me to stop ruining my wellbeing and physical health by staring at a tiny screen all day, then tweet condescendingly about the interaction. But in this instance, we need to stop living online and start proudly performing shenanigans, tomfoolery and jest IRL.