Dave Gilson ponders the question at Mother Jones, noting that while The Yes Men's 2004 spoof, in which they posed as Dow Chemicals execs to take belated responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, cost that company $2 billion in stock losses, today we're saturated with pranks. He writes:
After [The Yes Men's] unveiling the Halliburton SurvivaBall—a "gated community for one" that turns the wearer into a giant beige gumball—to a roomful of insurance managers, Yes Man No. 2 Mike Bonanno laments, "Instead of freaking out, they just took our business cards. Our effort had been a failure. And come to think of it, all of our efforts had been failures...Maybe making fun of stupid ideas was a stupid idea." After playing the fool for so long, the Yes Men have come to suspect that they've become fools themselves.Gilson says that pranksterism has become mere entertainment and, along the way, serious intentions behind such acts have, in many cases, been replaced by a serious desire for attention -- quick celebrity. Further, as the hijacked Obama TIME cover -- where he's depicted as Batman's arch-enemy -- suggests, it's no longer the domain of the left. Nothing wrong with rightwingers reading Rules for Radicals to muck up town hall meetings, I suppose, but the fact that they are suggests some of the beloved tactics of the left have, perhaps, outlived their usefulness.
Related: Where's all the rightwing street art?