Homeland Security Cultural Bureau.
September 14, 2002 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Homeland Security Cultural Bureau. "HSCB is protecting the interests of the country's national security by employing efforts to direct and guide the parameters of cultural production. " Actions include encouraging Hollywood to make less cynical, more patriotic movies, and shutting down art galleries whose subversive content is a threat to national security. I presume the site is a parodic/political commentary one--since as far as I know such a bureau has not actually been authorized by the Bush White House--but the makers of the site are holding their cards very close to the chest, with content that is nearly indistinguishable from what the real thing (a Bushian arts censorship commission) would actually be.
posted by Rebis (12 comments total)
I presume the site is a parodic/political commentary one

I'd say the ".org" in the URL is a giveaway.
posted by kayjay at 8:02 PM on September 14, 2002

It's played sooooo straight, even more than the anti-masturbation site or Bonsai Kitty. I looked through at a lot of pages and couldn't find any giveaways that it's a joke. No Google results for "Carolyn Parker Mayes" (the purported director) is about the only thing that gives a whiff of this being a satire site.
posted by briank at 8:09 PM on September 14, 2002

From the Site:

What is the status of HSCB, why is this website .org and not .gov? If it is not opertaing under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government does it have any real powers?

HSCB is a revolutionary non-governmental organization that will be working side by side with the Office of Homeland Security to monitor and provide advice in matters that tie Homeland Security to issues of culture. Thus far, the Bureau has been involved largely on the East and West Coast, consulting, advising, and investigating the practices of insititutions, organizations, and corporations which sponsor, exhibit or fun high and low cultural productions. Because we are not under the direct authority of the Federal Government, we have a lot of flexibility and room to manuever. We derive our authority by virtue of our board members and founders, which include key figures like the Director of the Office of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Ummm, yeah....
/bill lumbar mode
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:09 PM on September 14, 2002

Wow, someone's put a lot of work into this. All of the links actually go someplace. It's definitely a subtle piece of work, since it's sheer density contributes to its verisimilitude, as well as the seamless blending of links to real government sites and news stories with their own. On the other hand, stuff like Ashcroft remarking on Bush's lowbrow tastes:

"Of course, he does not have the sophisticated interest in color or the contours of the figure that Tom Ridge and I share, he goes much more for Hollywood, and popular music like Britney Spears, but nevertheless, he recognizes that Elvis did as much for spreading out the tentacles of America, or Jackson Pollack for giving a face to freedom against Communism, as any our great politicians of the time. "

comes across as a welcome relief from the "could this really be...?" creepy-crawly feeling one gets reading it. Also, there are some out-and-out mistakes, like an interviewer's name changing from "Don" to "Donna" mid-interview (unless there's a joke I'm missing there).

Weird, and someone has WAY too much time on his/her hands. But really, really well done.
posted by dragstroke at 8:10 PM on September 14, 2002

A whois shows that it's registered through joker.com, which appears to be a German company.
posted by Localemperor at 8:33 PM on September 14, 2002

There's a press release on the site about shutting down the White Box Gallery in New York. The White Box Gallery is currently running a show on responses to Sept. 11 created by (among others) Rene Gabri. Meanwhile, a whois on hbsc.org yields the site registered to R. Gabri.

All of this to me adds up to this site being part of a art exhibition, or (less charitably) a publicity stunt. Like Dragstroke said, it's still really well done, though...
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:39 PM on September 14, 2002

It's sad I had to think twice about whether this was a real site or not. We live in unusual times. There was a time when I'd have thought it was a joke if someone told me that one of the highest officials in our land would be putting clothes on greek statues and recruiting my UPS guy to read my mail.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:09 PM on September 14, 2002

Great work, Johnny Assay. I, too, chose the White Box thing as my angle on checking this out, but you beat me to it. There's a thin line between artwork and publicity stunt, isn't there?
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 9:27 PM on September 14, 2002

There's a press release on the site about shutting down the White Box Gallery in New York....

Well, here's the deal: the show at White Box was purported to be a pirate radio station. The show instead is the closure of the gallery by this mythical hbsc. So, the gallery actually IS closed. As background, White Box is a non-profit and very political and nonconventional gallery.

Some people are pissed off that, while so much actual shit is going on in the US, that a fake closure is being employed as a cultural or artistic action. As a matter of fact, the closure notices taped to the gallery were defaced today by people writing "bad art" and such stuff. Some people are in favor of it: the vast majority of stuff on that website is, after all, lifted directly from actual government websites.

I do know that White Box has put their money where their mouth is before: they had an auction for a (non-political, non-partisan, etc.) relief organization in Palestine just after the occupation of Ramallah, for instance. So, while I don't think this show/nonshow is terribly effective, I do credit them with keeping a good focus on current events.

After all, they could be showing Joan Mitchell, as the gallery across the street is. Don't you find huge dated abstract paintings highly relevant to our political climate?
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:38 PM on September 14, 2002

Moral: be very careful about your .govs and your .orgs.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 10:19 PM on September 14, 2002

Yes, it is important to separate the .govs from the .orgs - apparently our leaders have had a bit of trouble differentiating the two also.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:40 PM on September 14, 2002

Well done -- and it immediately brought to mind this.
posted by amberglow at 10:50 AM on September 15, 2002

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