August 29, 2007

Just So You Know, I Really Mean What I'm About To Say


I grabbed this headline off Google News yesterday because it's a good illustration of one of my domesticated peeves. This is nothing against Andy Borowitz, whom I like quite a lot, but a story is no longer satirical once it is labeled by its publisher explicitly as satire. Satire should be recognizable as such (by most or at least some people anyway), but it also requires the pretense of being unironic. If Swift had decided to ditch A Modest Proposal and instead titled his essay I'm So Totally Not Serious it would have lost much of its zing.

I realize there are legal reasons why Newsweek or Google or CNN.com (which links to Onion articles) would need to differentiate between the real articles and the fake ones. I'm just saying that if you have to label the fake news as fake to avoid confusion, then maybe you should get out of the self-parody business altogether.

(Before someone points it out, I'm aware that The Morning News, to which I occasionally and proudly contribute, archives many of its humor essays in a section called "Spoofs and Satire". I made my feelings clear to the editors long ago and they don't care what I think. Fortunately for Andy's mortgage payments, Newsweek doesn't care what I think either. Or they would start publishing my letters.)

Posted by Kevin Guilfoile

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