Exploring Humor and Media Hoaxing in Social Justice Activism


  • Ian Reilly


Humour and satire have figured only marginally in the recent groundswell of activist literature dedicated to the renewal of tools, tactics, and strategies. In an effort to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of humour and media hoaxing as tactics within activist communities—in a moment characterized by increased distrust in news organizations and information—this essay offers insight into artist and activist thinking on a topic rarely discussed in social justice activism circles. In drawing on the views and perspectives of individuals that participated in a weekend-long workshop held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and run by the Yes Lab for Creative Activism, I argue that humour and media hoaxing are under-utilized tactics and approaches that nevertheless inspire a great deal of discussion and reflection, and retain a distinctly positive charge in their future application to social justice struggle. More specifically, interviews culled from this one-time event point to the challenges and opportunities of integrating media strategies, humour, and hoaxing, all the while acknowledging the defining tensions and asymmetries that mark the current moment.