(note: Corn Pone Flicks presents this website as an historical document concerning actual events that occurred in SF fandom in the early 1990s. In no way should the information on this website be taken to construe that Corn Pone Flicks or the individuals connected with Corn Pone Flicks, CPF’s internet provider, or other related parties were involved in these activities in any way, shape, or form. CPF assumes no liability or responsibility for the following information.)
ANATOMY OF A HOAX:
How desktop publishing and mean-spirited hoaxters panicked a fandom
By “Dr. P. R. LeNado”
I. THE HOAX
I'm not really sure why we did it. We'd been going to a lot of conventions, we'd been annoyed by a lot of really obnoxious nerds, and for some reason we felt the need to put the fear of God into them. So we cooked up a fake crusade. By the campaign's end we'd discovered that puritanical anti-intellectualism was alive and well, that fandom would believe just about anything as long as it reinforced their preconceived notions, and more importantly, we'd discovered something about ourselves. Namely, that we could be real jerks.
It was 1989. As young adults we had cars and jobs and colleges we really weren't paying attention to, and every two or three months somebody in the Atlanta area was throwing a SF or comic book convention; January was Chattacon, March was Magnum Opus Con, April or May was Phoenixcon or Dixie-Trek, July was the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, October was Dragoncon... not to mention monthly fan club meetings, convention staff gatherings, and fan events like movie premieres and comic shops and one-off conventions...so if familiarity breeds contempt, then we were full up to the brim with contempt for a lot of these fans. I mean, yeah, we really should have cut them some slack. But when you spend three days listening to smelly, obese, barely-functional obsessive-compulsives rant about how superior the fans are to the "mundanes" - when your baseline for behavior is some loon claiming he's the reincarnation of a 3000 year old ninja, or a barely-suppressed pedophile itching to show pornography to kids, something snaps and you just want to destroy them. Or at least make their day a little less nice.
So we started doing goofy little parody flyers; we did a "Geek Checklist," we did about 300 variations on the "Pern" theme...little tweaks at the fan lifestyle. Xerox copies had recently gotten cheaper and more accessible thanks to Kinko's and professional-quality graphic design, courtesy Macintosh, was fast and easy. We could blanket a convention with sarcastic mockery for twenty bucks or less.
The flyers seemed to be well received; people got a kick out of them. What was next for us? RE Search had just published their PRANKS volume, full of hoaxes and trickery for the more evolved to play on the sheeplike masses. So we said, let's do a hoax. Let's do something that will push all their buttons and really get the fans steamed up. We were in the deep South Bible Belt, the age of the televangelist and the crusades against satanic rock music...most fans grew up Christian and bore a grudge, if not a persecution complex...let's give them a Christian Crusade. The Christian Crusade To Stamp Out Science Fiction.