Rupert Murdoch, In Good Company: A Social History of Pieing

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The "woah" moment of Rupert Murdoch's appearance in the British parliament this morning wasn't a revelation in the hacking scandal, it was the attempted pie-attack on the News Corp. patriarch. The pie-thrower, Jonathan May-Bowles, identifies himself on Twitter not only as Jonnie Marbles, but also as an "activist" and "comedian", which is fitting as the act of pieing has a storied history in both of those realms. Let's analyze.


Since 1967 the village of Coxheath in Kent has hosted the World Custard Pie Throwing Championships. Originally started as a fundraising event, the artistry of pie throwing is celebrated. A competitor gets six point for hitting someone in the face, but he or she can get up to five points for "the most original and amusing throwing techniques."


TV Tropes has a detailed list of the pie-throwers of pop-culture, including television, literature and film. Most interesting for our Anglophilic purposes is this little tidbit:

British comics such as Beano and Dandy thrive on this trope, custard pies being the usual ammunition of choice. They can be thrown by hand or with a suitably elaborate Bamboo Technology device designed for the express purpose of leaving the target Covered In Gunge.

Also, if you want to brush up on technique (and because the entire Murdoch proceedings were positively Python-esque), the boys of Monty Python made a handy instructional video.

Apparently there are "ribald connotations associated with the dispatch of an edible missile." Jump to 1:35 for the pie action:


Finally, as we well know now, pieing is also a political weapon. In one of the most famous incidents, Bill Gates was pied in Belgium in 1998. The action was plotted by the famous entarteur Noël Godin who was described in the New York Times as "a Belgian who has made a name for himself and a lucrative business out of hurling custard pies into the faces of the rich and famous." There are also groups who have unleashed gooey fury called "Al Pieda" and the Biotic Baking Brigade. And in case you are really interested, here's an academic essay on the subject.


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