Moments before attempting to shove a foam pie in the face of embattled News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, a British comic and activist known online as Jonnie Marbles tweeted, “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat.”
Quoting A Tale of Two Cities’ martyr Sydney Carton to justify a pie in the face demonstrates gross delusions of grandeur, but there is some historical precedence for the provocative act. A pie in the face may have its origins in the slapstick films of Mack Sennett, Laurel & Hardy, and the Three Stooges, and reached its zenith in the hands of the late Soupy Sales. But in addition to being a celebratory tradition for winning baseball teams, it’s also evolved into a symbol of political defiance. It’s the ultimate expression of helpless frustration: I can’t change the media or the government or that lifeguard who keeps me off the kiddie-slide, but I can make him look foolish in front of everyone!
Pieing, as it is known, became popular in the 1970s, when a contingent of Yippies, personified by High Times founder Thomas King Forcade, targeted conservative figures like Anita Bryant, William F. Buckley, and G. Gordon Liddy. “It’s okay as long as you’re hitting someone who deserves it,” Sales told Newsweek in 2005. “Nixon would have been perfect. As long as it’s funny, it can be political.”
Over the years, titans like Bill Gates have been pied. So has William Shatner, Jean-Luc Godard, and Andy Warhol. In some ways, being pied is a badge of honor. After all, they don’t throw pies at no-named underachievers. And pies taste much better than a shoe.
Have you been pied, or have pied someone? Tell us your story!