Pranking the Media to New Lows

| 4/22/2008 10:53:21 AM

Abel Raises CainLong before the Yes Men satirized Exxon and Halliburton, and before Ashton Kutcher was born, Alan Abel was the undisputed king of media hoaxers. Abel rose to fame as the president of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA), an organization that advocated clothing animals for the sake of decency. With the tagline, “a nude horse is a rude horse,” SINA lasted for more than three years, until it was exposed as a satirical commentary on censorship. He also started an organization to ban breastfeeding and a school to teach panhandling techniques.

The recent biopic Abel Raises Cain documents a side of Alan Abel not often shown by the media he pranked. Rather than the fast-talking Omar, teacher of panhandlers, the film—directed by his daughter Jenny—depicts an endearing father always who wanted to have a good time.

Many of Abel’s stunts were attempts to satirize the vapid media landscape of his time, especially the talk shows. The problem was that the pranks ended up pushing the media to new lows. His offensive talk show appearances displayed to networks that people wanted spectacle, with little more than a whiff of believability. The gags often had serious underlying political or social commentary, but the messages were often lost in the spectacle.

Although his pranks lacked the political edge of the Yes Men, Abel always showed commitment to a bit. Even after he was exposed publicly on television, he would often keep up the charade, and sometimes try the joke again on a different network. Speaking with Brooke Gladstone of WNYC’s On The Media, director Jenny Abel confesses, “sometimes I still wonder when my dad is falling in and out of character.”

Bennett Gordon

Image from the film Abel Raises Cain.

Hubert H. Farquad_2
5/2/2008 12:09:50 AM

Considering the website provided by "Alan Abel" (If that is your real name) prominently features the movie's poster and a link to its site, one suspects a manufactured feud for the sake of publicity. Would we expect anything less from Alan Abel?

Alan Abel
4/23/2008 11:38:45 AM

I see "Abel Raises Cain" a magnificant embarrassment by daughter Jennifer. And one of these days I'll do a documentary on her called "Daughter Dearest."When I think back that we could have sold her as a baby to the Mexican black market for $40,000. They were willing to buy her sight unseen! But the opportunity has passed and now I'll be talking to my lawyers. She and her partner, Jeff Hockett, never did obtain a release from my wife and I. They are certainly in deep trouble with us. Alan Abel

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