Onion plays ill-advised joke

Photo courtesy of
‘moldy onion’
courtesy of ‘scrapygraphics’

The Onion is a publication near and dear to my heart. They so often catch a good zeitgeist of humor in politics and news, but today’s #CongressHostage stunt is about as far from the usual material as to make me wonder who had taken leave of their senses. ย They started with a faux-Breaking News tweet: “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.”

Yeah, it went downhill from there:

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For a group that so often manages to walk the line on sensitive issues, to see them stumble so badly and obviously, it’s definitely a disappointment.

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8 thoughts on “Onion plays ill-advised joke

  1. I didn’t find it to be a stumble at all – once the second tweet was posted and then the article link, it was very clearly satire (of the top they’ve done so well for so long). The only people who didn’t understand it are the type to end up on here: http://literallyunbelievable.org/

  2. Eh.

    Rule #1 of the Onion is that you NEVER assume they’re serious. I don’t care what the subject matter is. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that anyone thought that the Onion would report actual news.

  3. I mostly disagree. The only tweet I think was ill-advised was this one, which preceded the one you quote: “BREAKING: Witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.”

    _That_ one is not funny because it doesn’t have any humorous context. It just gets a WOAH! jolt out of the reader before they see its from the Onion. I don’t think the Onion owes any apology for the people who didn’t stop to consider the source any more than the various other fake twitter accounts owe anyone an apology.

    However the follow-ups about armed congressmen taking hostages? Comedy gold, and a great riff on the last decade of rhetoric. In the same vein as “stop saying Starbucks mochas are like crack unless you’re willing to suck dick in the alley to get one.”

    The fact that people now follow twitter and read it credulously to the point where the Cap Police have to issue an all-clear? I think that’s just bonus humor/social commentary.

  4. It’s not a matter of not understanding satire and of “humorless” people complaining: the joke was just not funny. If it had been hilarious, it would have gone viral. As it is, it fell flat.