Poking fun at the Onion suckers

by Toby Manhire / 01 June, 2011
A new site collects comments from people duped by Onion stories. But is it right to laugh, or simply "elitism masquerading as internet hipsterism"?
Doing the rounds recently has been a website that collects comments on Facebook links to stories from The Onion, the usually very brilliant satirical publication. More specifically, the Tumblr-based Literally Unbelievable collects comments by readers who have not noticed the satirical bit.

Just quickly, some examples:

“So much for Obama being the peace President ... Is Obama a nut case or what?" This refers to an Onion headline "Obama Makes It Through Another Day Of Resisting Urge to Launch All US Nuclear Weapons At Once".

"Ppl just litarally kill me! The selfishnes of 1self 2 partake in a insane enviornment. I'm speechless about this article!” That’s a comment on the story “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex”, which delivers news of a “state-of-the-art facility, which features an IMAX movie theater as well as multiple fetus incinerators”, includes the following user testimony: "I was kind of on the fence in the beginning. But after a couple of margaritas and a ride down the lazy river they've got circling the place, I got caught up in the vibe. By the time it was over, I almost wished I could've aborted twins and gotten to stay a little longer."

And on the headline "Final Minutes of Last Harry Potter Movie to be Split Into Seven Separate Films", one reader worries for Emma Watson (the one who plays Hermione): "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD THE LITTLE GIRL SHOULD HOPE SHE HAS A LIFE WHEN SHE IS OLDER."

One more. "What do we want with a parrot? I'm trying to defend why I want to re elect Obama to my friends and this isn't helping!" That's from a reader alarmed at this news: "Obama Finishes Deal To Get Every American A Free Parrot".

But is it OK to laugh? Not everyone thinks so. Alexis Madrigal writes at the Atlantic:

But at least one user, tech writer and PhD candidate Navneet Alang, points out the somewhat nasty undercurrent powering the site. "This 'Literally Unbelievable' Tumblr irks me no end," Alang wrote. "Elitism masquerading as internet hipsterism."

I'm not sure how I feel about it. There is something hilarious about interpreting satire as reality, but this site really is about making fun of the rubes, defined in this case as gullible and shockingly un-media savvy right wingers. It's sort of The People of Walmart for the news, except the gag is: "Look how dumb!" instead of "Look how fat/low-class!"

A similarly is-it-right-to-laugh moment of guilt may overcome visitors to a site that collects “The best obnoxious responses to misspellings on Facebook”, which does just what it says on the tin, and which was also circulating furiously a few weeks ago. If you haven’t flicked through it already, do now. Feel the guilt, I say, and laugh anyway.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage


The Trump family's Kremlin connection
76655 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z World

The Trump family's Kremlin connection

by Paul Thomas

From “nothing to see here” to a Cold War-era spy story played out in real life, the Trump family’s Kremlin connection is a source of fascination.

Read more
The Journey – movie review
76661 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

The Journey – movie review

by James Robins

A van isn’t a great vehicle for a drama on how old enemies ended the Troubles.

Read more
Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at the United Nations
76664 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Gaylene Preston on the difficulties of filming at …

by David Larsen

Tracking Helen Clark’s tilt for the top job at the United Nations, Gaylene Preston documented the creatures of the diplomatic world.

Read more
Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland Road
76815 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Movies

Jackie van Beek puts the gags aside for The Inland…

by Russell Baillie

Best known for her comedy roles, Jackie van Beek takes a dramatic detour in her feature-directing debut.

Read more
Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its centenary approaches
76427 2017-07-24 00:00:00Z Small business

Parisian Neckwear plays the long game, even as its…

by Rob O'Neill

Parisian Neckwear, founded in 1919, has survived depression, war, deregulation and a deluge of cheap imports. How? Just feel the cloth.

Read more
David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about murder of Swedish tourists
76738 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Crime

David Tamihere case: Key witnesses' doubts about m…

by Donna Chisholm

Nearly 30 years after young Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen disappeared in the Coromandel key witnesses say the mystery haunts them.

Read more
Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and human exploitation collide
76728 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z Social issues

Modern slavery and tourism: when holidays and huma…

by The Conversation

With the advent of orphanage tourism, travellers think they're doing good. But they can often just be lining the pockets of the orphanages' owners.

Read more
The Polish resistance fighter who volunteered for Auschwitz
76750 2017-07-23 00:00:00Z History

The Polish resistance fighter who volunteered for …

by Glyn Harper

A Polish soldier volunteered to be incarcerated at Auschwitz so he could report on the Nazis’ activities inside the death camp.

Read more