The Only Thing I Hate More Than April Fool's Day…

…is "edgy" April Fool's Day pranks by smug hipster assholes.

[Trigger warning.] So, the totes high-larious group "Improv Everywhere," who stage awesome comedy "missions" in public venues, such as their annual "No Pants Subway Ride" (really) posted a video and images yesterday of their "No Underwear Subway Ride."

Text Onscreen: Improv Everywhere.

White guy with bullhorn, appearing to speak to a crowd of people gathered in New York City: Thanks, everybody, for coming out to the "No Underwear Subway Ride." [crowd cheers] For today's mission, we're gonna be going down into the subway; we're gonna be spreading out on several different cars, several different trains; at the same time, we are all going to be removing our pants and then removing our underwear. We want it to be a funny thing, we want it to be a positive thing, so please be as respectful as you possibly can. When the train gets crowded, you know, make sure you don't rub your genitals right up next to somebody else. It's not illegal to be completely naked in the New York City subway system, as far as we know… Everybody ready to take their underwear off? [crowd cheers]

[The rest is video set to dance music, the only lyrics accompanying which is a female voice repeatedly saying, "Hello Everyone." We see the crowd walking down stairs into the subway, then various men and women getting on trains and removing their pants and ostensibly their underwear, sitting on seats, standing in front of other passengers, etc.—as well as passenger reaction shots. Some people laugh uncomfortably, some people look scared, some look away, some stare, some move away. The genital areas of the participants are pixilated throughout the video.]
Only it wasn't real…? Because they were supposedly wearing flesh-colored underwear…? So the prank isn't that they were naked on the subway…? The prank is actually that they made people think they were naked on the subway…?

Ha ha…?

And now the thread at their place is full of people who are understandably disturbed by the notion that there's nothing wrong with exposing your genitals on the subway (as long as you're "as respectful as you possibly can" be about it), and people who are contemptuously mocking anyone who was TOO STUPID AND UNHIP HAR HAR to get the irony and actually fell for the prank.

Well, I got the goddamn "joke," but I fail utterly to see what's amusing about treating sexual assault on the subway as a punchline, when female commuters (in particular) are ubiquitously harassed by opportunistic predators who expose themselves, grab breasts, buttocks, and/or genitals, and use the motion and capacity of public transit as a cover for nonconsensual frottage. Check out the number of times "bus" or "train" etc. come up in the Survivor Thread and the Right to Go Out Thread, if you've any reservations about the prevalence of this form of assault.

This might—might—have been funny in a world in which sexual terrorism on public transportation isn't a real, serious, and pervasive problem.

But that is not the world in which we live.

In the world we live in, treating one of the most endemic forms of sexual assault or harassment as a subject ripe for a zany prank—and shaming people who don't see the alleged humor—is just another irresponsible and tiresome perpetuation of the rape culture.

[H/T to Gabe.]

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