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May 27, 2011 12:03 AM   Subscribe

Literally Unbelievable is a blog dedicated to Facebook users who don't understand that The Onion is a satire news site.
posted by zardoz (82 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
I want one for Real Life News Stories That Look Like Onion Headlines

I once linked to a Something Awful parody of Micheal Cera movies. A friend messaged me to ask when it was coming out
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:12 AM on May 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


ChristWire is the big one that gets my friends nowadays; most of them are clued into The Onion.

Been awhile since I saw a BBSpot or Landover Baptist in my feed.
posted by sbutler at 12:13 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whenever I read polls in which some significant percentage of people believe some ridiculous thing or other, there's always an outcry from people following the story who can't believe how many people can believe such crap. My reaction is almost always, "That's all? I would have thought the numbers would be higher." Because, well... This.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:19 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


8 Billion Dollar Baby Holocaust sounds like a blockbuster waiting to happen.

(Am I the only one who read the blog title in Rob Lowe's voice?)
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 12:19 AM on May 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wow. Kill me now. It's one thing to know this kind of thing must exist. It's quite another to actually be confronted by it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:26 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of the more 'existential' headlines like Man's Like Riddle With Continuity Errors and Day Job Officially Becomes Job actually are true, especially if you're, say, an aimless 20 something who spends most of his time on Facebook.

When I started linking to the AV Club I'd post 'not satire' with it. Still have to do that with some of their weirder Newswire posts.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:26 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone I know created a yelp page for Abortionplex after the FaceBook incidents:
http://www.yelp.com/biz/abortionplex-topeka
posted by roboton666 at 12:38 AM on May 27, 2011 [33 favorites]


I don't think it's true with all of them, but a couple of the feeds on Literally Unbelievable seem to be of people not "fooled" by the Onion but rather in on the joke and playing up the ignorance sarcastically. Like The Onion.
And then LU mistakenly believes their ignorance is real, and reports that mistakenly. It's a dupe of a dupe of a dupe.
Man, satire is getting dense.
posted by joechip at 12:49 AM on May 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Is there a blog for people who don't understand why The Onion is funny?
posted by Nixy at 12:51 AM on May 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shows like The Daily Show work because real news is ridiculous and the integrity of a journalist is measured by their ability to furrow their brow in an attempt to look serious (seriously Anderson, relax. You wont be pretty forever if you keep that up). That people get confused by The Onion or Christwire should be slightly less shocking than when people take the Times seriously.

But hey, I LOLed. And that is as much comfort as you can find these days.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:55 AM on May 27, 2011


Wait, The Onion is satire?

I thought they were just the first newspaper to report news from the future.
posted by loquacious at 12:57 AM on May 27, 2011 [24 favorites]


(Am I the only one who read the blog title in Rob Lowe's voice?)

No, you are not. That is literally my favorite character he has ever played.
posted by and miles to go before I sleep at 1:00 AM on May 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


This is kind of bad, these are people who will probably go to their graves thinking there really is an abortionplex. The fact that people believe this is why politicians can get away with the "90% Abortions" lies and can make defunding a huge issue. I've been a fan of The Onion for a while, but this might be irresponsible.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:00 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Best investigative reporting on the planet. But go ahead, read the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes. "
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:01 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I became nauseous after reading this. I am appalled!

So sad! What has this country come to!
posted by bleep at 1:04 AM on May 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


I get the impression some of these folks don't merely misunderstand that the Onion is satire, to them the concept of satire itself is alien. "Abortionplex"? Could their FP comments possibly be satire as well? The mind boggles.
posted by telstar at 1:11 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


One initial facebook users are such dumbasses
posted by doobiedoo at 1:30 AM on May 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like the idea, but I hope the creators figure out a way to lump in all the earnest reactions into one post per Onion story. Scrolling through EVERYBODY being shocked by the abortionplex one post after post got a little tedious.
posted by mreleganza at 2:03 AM on May 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Someone I know created a yelp page for Abortionplex after the FaceBook incidents:

I love that this has two filtered reviews.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 2:05 AM on May 27, 2011


*coughcoughcoughcoughcough*wisdomofthecrowds*cough*

*cough*

*retch, gag*

*cough*
posted by eeeeeez at 3:10 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a blog for people who don't understand why The Onion is funny?

The Drudge Report? (wild guess)
posted by ShutterBun at 3:22 AM on May 27, 2011 [30 favorites]


I get the impression some of these folks don't merely misunderstand that the Onion is satire, to them the concept of satire itself is alien.

Not to turn this into another rant on the the religious, but I've seen a similar phenomena regarding Christians vs. "Secular Music". Because I went to a Christian school, where we were told, in religious education classes, about the evils of rock music, and presented with examples of un-Christian lyrics.

Some songs, of course, involve the songwriter playing a character, writing from someone else's perspective, they write something satirical, or from an opposing perspective. The teacher didn't understand this concept, and always interpreted the singer as singing about themselves.

Most songs, are full of metaphor. The teacher didn't understand this, and interpreted all lyrics as literal.

Many songs tell stories, sing about things that aren't real, that didn't actually happen, that are hypothetical, that are fantasies. The teacher didn't understand this, and regarded all lyrics as being completely honest expressions of the mind of the singer.

And a lot of songs are just nonsense - just words put together because they rhyme and sound good. That's pop music. A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bam-boom! The teacher didn't understand this, and almost regarded it as a sign of mental illness or even possession when the words didn't make sense.

It can only be a lifetime of listening to and singing nothing but dreary, repetitive, literal, dogmatic Christian music that can blind one's mind to the potential poetry of popular music. I get the feeling the same thing is going on in the reaction of some people to Onion headlines. The part of their brand that handles humor, satire, sarcasm, the absurd, has been killed.
posted by Jimbob at 3:25 AM on May 27, 2011 [53 favorites]


Here is your headline that should be from the Onion but isn't: Horse herpes outbreak forces rodeo queens to ride stick ponies
posted by planetkyoto at 4:26 AM on May 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


So, you mean to tell me that Jean Teasdale is just satire but this Sarah Palin character is real?

No wonder these people are confused.
posted by PlusDistance at 4:56 AM on May 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Aren't all of these fake? I mean, how easy would it be to just Photoshop (although you could certainly use Paint just as easily) these statuses and conversations together? I even think I saw a link on reddit once to a site where you could build your own funny-text-message thing or facebook convo thing right online.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:02 AM on May 27, 2011


It can only be a lifetime of listening to and singing nothing but dreary, repetitive, literal, dogmatic Christian music that can blind one's mind to the potential poetry of popular music. I get the feeling the same thing is going on in the reaction of some people to Onion headlines. The part of their brand that handles humor, satire, sarcasm, the absurd, has been killed.

No metaphor? No satire? That sounds like a horrible way to live one's life.
posted by spoobnooble at 5:07 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe these are fake people and this is actually a metajoke pointedly looking to show the outrage filter of people on metafilter responding to fake people saying dumb things about fake news saying dumb things. That's right... matt, cortex, jess, restless_nomad, and pb are trolling us.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:09 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is bad. Not quite as mean-spirited as 'People Who Said N****r Today" blog that enacts vigilantism against people who post slurs on Facebook, but pretty equally pointless.

Yeah, these people are taken in by something they read online. They're not as computer-savvy, literate, or sensitive to irony as you are.

But by building this website, do you think you're lighting a candle or cursing a darkness?
posted by meadowlark lime at 5:10 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, you mean to tell me that Jean Teasdale is just satire but this Sarah Palin character is real?

Sarah Palin is real because Jean Teasdale isn't far from real.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:17 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Horse herpes outbreak forces rodeo queens to ride stick ponies

Oh god, I am laughing dangerously hard. There may be internal bleeding.
posted by elizardbits at 5:20 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's true with all of them, but a couple of the feeds on Literally Unbelievable seem to be of people not "fooled" by the Onion but rather in on the joke and playing up the ignorance sarcastically. Like The Onion.

Next up: a blog of people who believe that there are people on facebook who believe that Onion stories are real.
posted by jonnyploy at 5:38 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure where this image of Facebook reactions to the Abortionplex is from, but it makes me want to tear my face off.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:39 AM on May 27, 2011


Hey, everyone, look at these assholes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:49 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not all of these replies are from people who think the Onion story is real. Like the one about "Congress Gets in 12 Hours of Gridlock" and the guy replies about the "Party of No". He could be thinking it's a real story or he could be commenting on the real situation(s) that the story is parodying.
posted by DU at 5:55 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only "legs being pulled" are those of the babies as the abortionists rip their little bodies apart.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:02 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This was funny until it occurred to me that the blog might be a satire and that we're missing the point by sitting here gawping at all the morons on Facepalm. Then I tried to work out the implications for Metafilter of what had just occurred to me. And then I remembered it was Friday afternoon and my brain was too addled to figure it out. Talk about meta.
posted by londonmark at 6:05 AM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


could be commenting on the real situation(s) that the story is parodying.

I tried to fit that theory to the Abortionplex story, since the same thought occurred to me, but upon careful re-reading, it's hard not to think they actually believe such a place is being constructed, or even more amazing, is now open for business.
posted by telstar at 6:18 AM on May 27, 2011


I get the impression some of these folks don't merely misunderstand that the Onion is satire, to them the concept of satire itself is alien.

I don't know. I've also had pretty smart, funny liberal friends forward me shit from Christ Wire or Landover Baptist and not get that it was satire. People tend to jump on things that confirm what they already believe about people.

Satire is best when it's just shy of plausible, and if you're not reading closely, or you only read the pull quote and headline, it's easy to forward something like that on facebook and not think twice about it.
posted by empath at 6:19 AM on May 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


ChristWire is the big one that gets my friends nowadays

If by "friends" you mean people here at MetaFilter, you are correct, sir.

The regular flow of any thread here linking to a ChristWire piece is Outrage -> Wait Is This Satire? -> How Can You Not Know This Is Satire -> I Didn't Read The Thread And I'm Outraged -> Repeat.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just a further reminder that humorous liberals have to be careful: conservative minds have great difficulty discerning satire.

I'm just disappointed the abortionplex is about the only thing linked on that short blog...this story goes back a long ways.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:25 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


ChristWire is the big one that gets my friends nowadays;
posted by sbutler at 8:13 AM on May 27


Hell, yes. I'm constantly staggered by how many people still don't get that Christwire is satirical. It's definitely a bit less obvious than Landover Baptist but really, there are plenty of big giveaways there.
posted by Decani at 6:28 AM on May 27, 2011


Onion article that could/should be a real Op-Ed.
posted by schmod at 6:38 AM on May 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


I tried to fit that theory to the Abortionplex story...

Yeah, the theory doesn't work for the Abortionplex one. And although the meta-troll theory *does* work, I somehow doubt it is true in this case.
posted by DU at 6:40 AM on May 27, 2011


Wait 'til you folks find out that Christianity is really a hoax too. 3 = 1, magic fish, who gets taken in by that? I'll tell you, that joker Saul of Tarsus is really good at message discipline. And I really admire the commitment some people have to carrying it off — a life time without sex just for a joke. Makes Improv Everywhere look like a bunch of pikers.

Of course, it'd been done before, by that guy Moishe in Egypt. But he didn't have Facebook then, just Usenet news feeds, so it didn't spread quite as far.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:44 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hell, yes. I'm constantly staggered by how many people still don't get that Christwire is satirical. It's definitely a bit less obvious than Landover Baptist but really, there are plenty of big giveaways there.

I think it's maybe a symptom of this weird plausibilty inversion thing that's going on. News satire, to be amusing, has to be at least a little bit believable. Real news doesn't, and increasingly often, isn't. So now satire news sites are somewhere in the middle of the believability spectrum, with non-satirical sites on either side. It's very weird.
posted by FishBike at 7:06 AM on May 27, 2011


Haha! I'll never forget that satirical article where The Onion claimed men landed on the moon. LOL! Some people are so gulli... gulla...dammit, it's not in the dictionary!
posted by ShutterBun at 7:07 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as, quote, "like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun," unquote. We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.
posted by caddis at 7:17 AM on May 27, 2011


caddis: yes, that is a great example of people being taken in by broadcast falsehood.

However, WOTW was never presented as satire or humor. The Onion and ChristWire both are.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 AM on May 27, 2011


Trolls trolling trolls.

It's trolls all the way down.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:23 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


i see no evidence to suggest this tumblr isn't a complete ruse. looks completely made up. good job nonetheless.
posted by iboxifoo at 7:27 AM on May 27, 2011


It's nauseated.
posted by Shohn at 7:33 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


i see no evidence to suggest this tumblr isn't a complete ruse. looks completely made up. good job nonetheless.

I dunno. Definitely feels more legit than the "What my dad searches for" Twitter, or the "iPhone spellchecker mistakes" blog. After all, I've had my dad email me two Onion articles that he thought were real.
posted by Jimbob at 7:35 AM on May 27, 2011


I can't count how many times in the last 10 years I've read true headlines from a news aggregator and had to cursor over it hoping it was linked to the Onion site.
posted by any major dude at 7:43 AM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe these are fake people and this is actually a metajoke pointedly looking to show the outrage filter of people on metafilter responding to fake people saying dumb things about fake news saying dumb things. That's right... matt, cortex, jess, restless_nomad, and pb are trolling us.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 7:48 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as the "is the site itself a hoax or do people really fall for this stuff" question, I don't know for sure.

But it isn't too hard for me to believe that some people who have a particularly strong opinion about an issue would be predisposed to believe any and all stories that reinforce that opinion, without necessarily trying too hard to verify its validity.

If not for the credit to The Onion, I could easily fathom some Metafilter users who might buy into the Government Official Who Makes Perfectly Valid, Well-Reasoned Point Against Israel Forced To Resign story, for example.
posted by The Gooch at 7:52 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't all of these fake? I mean, how easy would it be to just Photoshop (although you could certainly use Paint just as easily) these statuses and conversations together? I even think I saw a link on reddit once to a site where you could build your own funny-text-message thing or facebook convo thing right online.

Easier than that. You can just open up firebug or the Chrome developer panel and make it look like somebody has said whatever you want. For example.

I still think this is probably mostly legit though.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:10 AM on May 27, 2011


Ew probably mostly.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:10 AM on May 27, 2011


"The fruit of abortion is nuclear war"? At first I wondered whether Mother Teresa really said that, then I realized it doesn't make much difference.
posted by free hugs at 8:11 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You haven't lived until you've heard the excited ramblings of a person taken in by Gmail April Fool's hoaxes two years in a row.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:12 AM on May 27, 2011


At least these folks are reading something.
posted by sswiller at 8:21 AM on May 27, 2011


I have no idea how many of those responses are sincere, but generally speaking, gullibility like that speaks less to a fundamental lack of intelligence or reading comprehension than it does to the completely absurd characterizations some have of people they disagree with.

For the Abortionplex story not to trigger your WAITAMINNIT filter, you'd have to have some extant belief that Planned Parenthood is almost comically dastardly. You'd have to either be completely oblivious to the arguments and positions of Planned Parenthood specifically and pro-choice advocates in general, or honestly believe that they are genuinely evil, full time liars.

And I've seen exactly the same type of reaction to Christwire stories too. I spent way too much time once convincing someone that an absurd racist story about Kal Penn, illustrated with a photo of Aziz Ansari, was parody. He honestly believed that Christian fundamentalists were so consistently and virulently racist and dumb that he never questioned it, and never questioned even how they'd managed to get a picture of the wrong guy. As an internet atheist myself, trust me when I say that internet atheists are among the most trollable demographics online, simply because some of them have such a consistently hostile approach to religious people that they have no filters that tell them when something is absurd enough to merit looking at it logically or even just doing a quick verification.

I also internet know a guy who seriously has almost no sense of humor. He has Asperger's, and tends to take everything at face value. But he has a filter. He's a smart guy, and can recognize a logical flaw or an absurdity, and he checks them out. And, most importantly, he doesn't get emotionally invested in defending his initial reactions when something does take him in. He admits he was wrong without citing Poe's Law or going off on a rant about it. So just not recognizing satire doesn't really explain most of the reactions. You don't have to have a real understanding of satire to have some kind of filter that tells you when something is implausible. You just have to have some concept of what's plausible.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:04 AM on May 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Even Rachel Maddow got taken in by Christwire.

Regarding the whole "satire" thing, though. . . remember when Colbert did the correspondents' dinner? I was reading Free Republic, which I do out of habit to keep tabs on the lunatics, and a bunch of them felt really genuinely betrayed. It's not that they thought Colbert was serious -- they knew he was doing a parody of Bill O'Reilly. They just didn't realize that in addition to parody, he was also satirical. In reading the comments, a bunch of folks honestly didn't seem to grasp what satire was. (To give credit where it's due, a bunch of other Freepers were linking to "A Modest Proposal" and saying "OK pay attention now: do you think this man is genuinely endorsing the eating of children? Christ no wonder people think we're stupid; apparently we kind of are.")
posted by KathrynT at 9:24 AM on May 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: a dupe of a dupe of a dupe of a dupe.
posted by randomkeystrike at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2011


People tend to jump on things that confirm what they already believe about people.

This. The abortion comments in particular. If you are a rabidly pro-life person who literally believes that abortion providers love killing babies and are controlled by Satan, then yeah, an abortionplex/amusement park/family fun center makes total sense to you -- it's just what those sick baby-murderers want!

It is likely that at least some of the posts on this blog are faked. But if you think no one could possibly be so dumb as to be fooled by The Onion, you are sadly mistaken. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO BELIEVE THAT OBAMA IS A KENYAN SOCIALIST MUSLIM, THAT HIS ENTIRE LIFE IS SOME SORT OF CRAZY MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE STYLE INVASION OF THE USA. You think the same people won't think that there's a real "abortionplex"? I mean, shit, watch Fox News -- they make their money by stripping every ounce of nuance, complexity, and ambiguity out of everything that they disagree with. Obama bowed to the leader of some foreign country? OMG THAT MUST MEAN THAT WE ARE UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE NEW WORLD ORDER!!! The rapper Common has used the word "gangsta" in one of his songs? OMG HE IS A HATEFUL THUG WHO BELIEVES IN KILLING COPS!!! Sarah Palin put crosshairs on images of liberal politicians her PAC was trying to oust? OMG... well that's just political rhetoric.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I laughed harder at that Yelp page for the abortionplex than anything else this morning.
posted by scelerat at 9:53 AM on May 27, 2011


If not for the credit to The Onion, I could easily fathom some Metafilter users who might buy into the Government Official Who Makes Perfectly Valid, Well-Reasoned Point Against Israel Forced To Resign story, for example.

The idea is plausible, but the actual media wouldn't phrase it that way.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was going to post about how these looked fake because they're all rendered using the exact same font and layout (i.e. they're all being captured or generated by the same person), which isn't how sites that get content from multiple real sources appear (i.e. lamebook).

But then I had a thought... would it be possible for someone to just use the Facebook API to see everyone who has publically shared a particular link from theonion.com? If so, can anyone find an example that confirms these are real?
posted by rh at 10:44 AM on May 27, 2011


try Openbook, this guy seems to thinks its real, for example.
posted by dabitch at 12:06 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aren't all of these fake? I mean, how easy would it be to just Photoshop (although you could certainly use Paint just as easily) these statuses and conversations together? I even think I saw a link on reddit once to a site where you could build your own funny-text-message thing or facebook convo thing right online.

Here is a guide to making pages editable easily. Go forth and create your own fakes!
posted by heathkit at 12:24 PM on May 27, 2011


The reader mail section of whitehouse.org [wayback archive version] was always the jewel in the crown of that satirical site.
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:29 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine that, every morning, Stephen Colbert looks in the mirror and wonders: "Is this it? Is this the day I finally flip out and announce my candidacy for the Republican nomination? Oh, God! Why do you all want to vote for me?"
posted by SPrintF at 12:39 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This ties in with the whole email hoax stuff that goes around and around...and around year after year. Lots of people are gullible and seem willing to believe anything that ties in with their core [political / religious / sci-fi] beliefs.

I began checking every email I got that made a wild claim at places like Snopes and other such Urban Legends pages years ago.

But it does surprise me that some still don’t know that 'The Onion' is a satirical sight. Or that the stories they offer are pretty much always outrageous beyond belief.
posted by Rashomon at 1:27 PM on May 27, 2011


I guess those folks must be in a panic now.
posted by moonbiter at 5:04 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, well look - it turns out that The Onion was just about right [Disclaimer: I don't agree with the weird logic in that link]
posted by sycophant at 5:12 PM on May 27, 2011


The DSM is not my bible, but interpreting a metaphor as a literal truth does seem to imply a social reality behavioral problem.

On the other hand, some of The Onion's set-pieces seem so scarily real to me.
posted by ovvl at 6:44 PM on May 27, 2011


…mean-spirited…'People Who Said N****r Today" blog that enacts vigilantism against people who post slurs on Facebook…

Being racist should be scary.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 PM on May 27, 2011


I don't bother with The Onion.

Lately, I've been getting all my satire and astonishment directly from the front page of the NYT.

(I'm looking at you, House and Senate)
posted by BlueHorse at 8:53 PM on May 27, 2011


I think we're going to find that the autism spectrum extends to a very large number of religious people, who are essentially literalists.

A significant population does not understand satire, irony, parody, and metaphor. I think "myth" and "fable" comes close to joining that category of non-literal meaning.

Which is, of course, why they're religious: they have faith in things obviously not true. Transubstantiation, Raptures, Miracles, Afterlifes, Healing Prayers. They fall suckers to Televangelists, Imams. Believe douchebags that claim it Christian to hate gays, women, Muslims, Christians, Coloureds, Whites, drug users, the poor, the other.

A very significant chunk of our population is socially broken*.

We can not have a well-functioning large-scale society if we do not help these people.

*Count me among them. But my dislike of being away from home hurts me, not others.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 PM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the best emails I ever got was from the wife of a friend who really loves animals. It was a passionately outraged mass email to everyone in her contacts file decrying an incredibly sick and cruel website she had just found out about: Bonsai Kitten. This was in 2005.

Ten minutes later I received another letter from her, which began "It has been brought to my attention that..."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:23 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh dearie me, she fell for Bonsai Kitten? Poor gal. It's pretty good though. I remember the first time I saw that and worried about widdle kittens in glasses (not as Bonsai kittens, just as kittens in glasses for a moment of funny photos). I like the outrageous ones that are well executed enough to sorta get you for a second. Like all the Yes-mens parody site, the most recent seen here Coal cares! "Puff-Puff™ inhalers are available free!

I used to love the Onion, but there comes a point where spoofing things to make some sort of social comment is cynical in itself. Like the "case study" of the white bull army (disclosure: my site, but not my post), an entry to an advertising award where the brief is to come up with something that couldn't be done five years ago. The idea is to launch a beer in South Sudan by sponsoring the south Sudanese army. It's a caricature of a caricature of the ad industry, entered into an ad award. That's when it gets to be 'too much', imho. Your milage may vary.

At some point, all the satire gets too much, not because silly people on facebook believe it, but because we're served so much slanted news, with obscured facts and buried important stuff, on a daily basis. The Best April Fools joke the Onion could ever do would be to serve all real news with a straight face all day April 1.
posted by dabitch at 1:31 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a beautiful concept. Onion writers spend their careers trying to be essentially different from main stream media while using the same tropes, but the main stream media just keeps following them further out into left field.

One day, the senior editor calls a meeting and says "Ladies, Gentlemen, there is only one direction left for us to go. Back into the center!". They decide to do plodding serious investigative journalism — Hey, nobody else is doing it! It starts off as a one day stunt, becomes a recurring feature, and then becomes their meat-and-potatos.

2023, we're all getting serious news from Onion News, and you have to explain to a 17 year old "You know, The Onion started out as a humor site.".

2188, scholars studying the changes in communication wrought by the first Internet have to wrestle with "The Onion Paradox".
posted by benito.strauss at 8:38 AM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't be surprised if this actually happened.

Someone please tell the Onion to start with this April fools joke now.
posted by dabitch at 4:55 AM on May 29, 2011


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