Cooing Over the Golden Phallus

A increasing number of popular documentary films are employing prankster tactics for political effect.  With a heritage stretching back to the Yippies, the Situationists, and beyond, prankster activists harness broad dissatisfaction with contemporary society and express it in visceral, anarchic, experiential form. This paper considers and critiques these practices in light of the politics of the spectacle they engage. Specifically, what types of political activity – individualist or collective, transcendent or engaged, patriarchal or feminist – are suggested by the prankster-activist?  What economic and gender relations are engaged by pranksters, and do politicized pranksters reinforce these underlying schema even as they temporarily turn the tables on their powerful targets?  Does the popular reception of prankster politics represent a fulfillment of its promise to make dissent more ‘fun’?  If so, what kind of fun are we having, and what kind of politics are we not doing while we’re having it?

Kanouse, Sarah, “Cooing Over the Golden Phallus,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 4 (2005): 21-31.

Download PDF: Cooing Over the Golden Phallus

Cover image: Cover, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest 4