Home > Comedy, Editorial, Media > The Onion: America’s Finest (And Apparently Most Confusing) News Source

The Onion: America’s Finest (And Apparently Most Confusing) News Source

Established in 1988, The Onion started off in newspaper-form that found very limited success on college campuses in Wisconsin and Colorado, although this success could either be attributed to the satirical news stories, or the coupons that came with the paper. In 1996, the organization went global with the creation of their website, leaving their material to be consumed and mistake as real news by the general public. Notably, Westboro Baptist Church’s Fred Phelps used an Onion story as proof that homosexuals were in fact being recruited. Beijing’s paper posted an international story that featured Congress threatening to leave DC unless a new Capital Building was built. After demanding proof that the story was in fact false, the Beijing Evening News retracted the story saying:

“Some small American newspapers frequently fabricate offbeat news to trick people into noticing them with the aim of making money.”

Yes, The Onion has been confusing the heck out of people for a long time now. In 2007 they expanded their reach with video reports that have now expanded into a full-length news program for the Independent Film Channel. These videos garner hundreds of thousands of views, but still seem to confuse people, like this woman that bears a resemblance to Danica Patrick:

Here’s the video the Danica Patrick look-a-like feels sounds legit:

Harry Potter doesn’t in fact have an executive producer named Bryan Mitchell. References and photoshopped pictures of Variety and Ain’t It Cool News confirming the story are fake, used to give the story some fake credibility. The news network telling the story is not real, as you can tell by reading the ticker at the bottom that says “U.S. State Department advises China to try playing it a little cooler with the Tibet situation.” Oh wait, never-mind. Americans wouldn’t know that it was fake becasue they can’t point to Tibet on a map. I guess that would go with the headline they also had on the ticker, “Rand McNally unveils new map featuring only countries Americas give a s**t about.” Also, the trailer for the fake film was in fact, fake. Shocking, I know.

So how does The Onion keep doing this? How are Americans perpetually fooled by the silliest and most ridiculous stories? And what does it really say about the state of our nation? Here’s a rundown at the various reason:

  1. People Don’t Pay Attention: This is probably the most common reason. They see some sort of aggregation service or their their friends posting something that looks like a news story, so they read it without stopping to consider the source, the logic of the story, or how ridiculous it all sounds. After all, the real world can be weirder than The Onion, so we’re naturally more willing to believe weird things today than ever before. Besides, with news and surfing the internet moving faster than the speed of love, who has time to check or think? Read, post thoughts, spread. Done.
  2. People Don’t What The Onion Is: This is true for foreigners, people that don’t get our American sense of satire, or older people. That’s right, The Onion is kind of hip thing that the kids love. Fake news, why would somebody write that? One of the reasons that The Onion is financially successful in several sectors is the advertising they attract because of the 18-49 demo that flocks to the paper. Try to decipher the pixelated Facebook pictures of the people mistaking the stories and you will come to the conclusion that most, if not all of them are older.
  3. They’re Wanting To Believe It Anyways: When Fred Phelps saw The Onion, he was probably looking for something that conformed to his belief that homosexuality is bad. When people look for information to confirm and conform their previously held beliefs, the results almost never come out well, or truthfully. The Anti-Obama guy already thought of Obama as a nut, so when he saw The Onion reporting that Obama had overcome the urge to set off nuclear war yet again, the man thought he was confirmed in his belief that Obama was crazy.
  4. The Onion Is Just Very Convincing: Part of the reason why The Onion is so revered is the fact that they have a lot of talent working for them, whether it be their staff of writers, or former real Fox News anchor Suzanne Sena playing fake Onion News Network anchor Brooke Alverez. She knows the real world, so she knows how to be convincing in her parody of it. They’re all very professional, and very good at what they do. They’re not a kid in their basement; they’re paid professionals. Thus, the quality in their work shows.
  5. We Don’t Like To Research: This includes ordinary citizens taking something at face value, but it can even include the New York Times. Yes, THE NEW YORK TIMES. In a recent retrospective of Tiger Beat magazine, a teen-centered publication, the New York Times included past covers of the magazine, including an issue that included a “Giant Obama Poster Inside,” and a “quote” by the President saying “I Sing In The Shower.” This cover of course came from The Onion, forcing the New York Times to make a retraction. This was in April 2011, mind you.
  6. We’re Just Dumb: The Onion serves to make fun of our dumb world, issues, people, etc. It just happens that the people they’re making fun of happen occasionally read it. The resulting clash either signals that the world is not too far off from becoming a true Idiocracy, or the fact that our dumbness helps define us as a people, and we should try to learn for said dumbness, but most of all, laugh at it.

Also note that the magazine also promises more personal facts about Obama inside. Do tell Fake Tiger Beat!

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