The first time someone showed me a news story from The Onion, I thought it was real. I had no idea that an entire website like that, one that is respected and even has print copies of their paper published on a daily basis, could be so false. I later learned that this is called satire and that the facts are generally true, and the people are real celebrities and politicians. But the stories are completely made up. The images are all legitimate, and the titles for each news story could almost come off as being real, but once you read a story, you know there is something fishy here.
The first experience I had with The Onion was for the MacBook Wheel. I saw a video from digg.com about the new Apple product that was revolutionizing the tech world. I watched it, laughed, and even shared it with a handful of guys in my office. About five or six guys watched it, the whole time thinking this was a real product, before someone killed my buzz and told me that it was fake. I still watch that video from time to time, laughing at how I could have been so naive.
Not too long ago, while wandering the streets of Chicago, I saw a newsstand selling copies of the Onion. I grabbed one just to read a few of the main articles. The headline on the front page stated, “Obama Declares Victory, Sort Of, Depending On How You Look at It, In Iraq”. Anyone following this story knows that is a pretty accurate way to describe our exit strategy from Iraq. We are done fighting there, apparently, yet there are still 50,000 troops remaining. Not sure I really understand that.
Another story on the front page read, “Desperate Pandora Employees Scrambling to Find Song Area Man Likes.” This made me laugh, as I am an avid Pandora Radio user and sometimes find it hard to find a song I like. But the one story that got me excited was a few pages in and was titled, “Tiger Woods Hits Rock Bottom, Aside from Being Worth over $600 Million.” This is also a true statement, as he has hit rock bottom on the golf course, and in his marriage (which recently just came to an end) and still managed to make over $90 million on tour this year through endorsements and earnings. This is all in spite of the fact that Tiger has not even won a single event in 2010. He also lost a handful of his biggest sponsors, including Accenture and Gatorade.
The story reads:
AKRON, OH – Tiger Woods scored a career-worst 18-over par finish at the Bridgestone Invitational, officially hitting rock bottom if one ignores the fact that he is worth over $600 million, is still the world’s number one ranked golfer, never has to work another day for the rest of his life, and has millions of fans worldwide. “Four rounds in the mid-to-high 70s, and finishing 78th out of 80 golfers-it simply can’t get any worse for Tiger,” ESPN golf analyst Andy North said of Woods, who left Sunday’s round in his private jet and who, despite a damaging sex scandal, still earned more than $90 million in 2010. “Nowhere to go from here but up (or sail up and down the California coast in his yacht if he wants to).” Woods was unable to comment on reaching his personal low point, as he was too busy checking into the penthouse suite of his four-star hotel and deciding if he wanted the 12-ounce or 16-ounce filet for diner.
Like I said, all of these facts are true. Tiger was the first athlete ever to reach $1 bullion in earnings, he does own a huge yacht that he paid cash for named Privacy, and he did earn over $90 million this year on tour, regardless of having taken five months off to deal with said sex scandal. Tiger is still the world’s number one golfer, even though he isn’t playing like it right now. He is a two-time winner of the FedEx Cup, and this year has to qualify for each and every step of the way if he wants a shot at winning his third. (Note that he won the first one, missed the second one due to injury, and then came back and won the third one last year. Analysts doubt he will even make it into the second round of this year’s event.)
This just goes to show how fun an editorial like The Onion can be. Do I agree with them discussing Tiger during a time like this? No, of course not. But did they over exaggerate any of the facts about him? No, they did not. I ended up reading a handful of articles out of this issue, and it makes me want to begin checking the website more too. Imagine the life of a writer for this paper.
Do you read The Onion? What are some of your favorite stories that you have read, in print or online?