Satire Friday: Onionesque


Barack Obama calls for change

Image by Unlisted Sightings via Flickr

Perhaps you’ve heard of The Onion, the often profane, usually funny, totally made-up news source, which now boasts print newspapers and a multifaceted web site. I was first introduced to The Onion by my then college aged son, who could grab a free copy of The Onion on the University of Michigan campus from a corner newspaper box. The Onion’s theme, which is fully disclosed in its editorial details is this: 1) all stories are fiction, and 2) many stories are R-rated and not appropriate for children. Stories in The Onion start out sounding like genuine news, often about well-known public figures. They cite quotes from real or real-sounding people, give names of actual people and places, employ legitimate-sounding statistics, and use photos of real folks, although with heavy application of  Photoshop.  They often spoof a current news crisis issue, and take it to extremes, such as in this gem about President Obama:

Obama Earns Money for US by Appearing in Japanese Television Commercial 

Someone unfamiliar with The Onion, who just happened across the paper or website, may at first glance think they’re reading a plausible news story. But in short order, stories go from somewhat plausible to sketchy, to improbable, all the while laced with satire and hilariously ironic details. As one gets farther into the newspaper/website,  the stories are often cruder, vulgar, and R-rated  – too risqué for my tastes, which shows that even the best satire writers are only great part of the time. I stick to and endorse only the few front page stories that are cleverly written and funny, and leave the crude ones for those who appreciate that kind of writing. 

My appreciation of fine, made-up satirical news has led me to dabble in some my own made-up news stories at times, to the point that I’ve decided to start my own onion-like category, aptly titled Onionesque. Look for some new Onionesque posts soon. In the meantime, you can revisit some of my old Onionesque posts if you’re feeling ready for a dose of healthy news-related satire.

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