In early 1960, a TV viewer complained to a network about seeing a black man kiss a white woman on one of their shows. The network, eager not to offend, flew an account executive down to meet with the viewer and explain to him that the actor was actually white, but that the local station had accidentally broadcast the show at a high contrast ratio, making him appear dark-skinned. When Paul Krassner (editor of the satirical underground magazine The Realist
) heard about this he was outraged that a TV network would be so afraid of offending a racist. So he designed a prank to serve as payback. He asked his readers to write to the network after the April 1st airing of the celebrity panel show Masquerade Party
(a completely unexceptionable show), and to complain that they had been offended by something on it, but not to specify what it was that had offended them
. Hundreds of his readers obliged. The result was panic at the network. Reportedly the TV executives watched the tape of the show repeatedly, desperately trying to figure out what could have offended so many people.