This was originally going to be a random recommended reading link, but then I got ranty.
The Onion is now officially covered by the Jezebel Rule, because there’s nothing satirical about fantasizing about the violent death of a black woman. And since they fired the person who called Quvenzhané Wallis a cunt, they’re also covered by the Hell Pizza rule, i.e. “if you have multiple employees who will make these kind of fuckups, you don’t get to keep playing the “just one employee fucked up” card”.
Also: personally, I really really hate people equating shit like this to A Modest Proposal. When Swift uses utterly dehumanizing language and tone towards the Irish babies he proposes to farm for eating, it’s because he’s satirizing the language and tone other people use towards Irish families. He’s writing shitty things to highlight shitty things. Also, dude was Anglo-Irish.
For The Onion’s latest vile piece to be equivalent, The Onion would have to be satirizing the callous and fetishistic way media discuss violence against women of colour. (Compare with how The Civilian manages near-perfect mimicry of the standard NZ media tone.) Which they’re clearly not, because then they might have written something like “TMZ.com wins 2012 Pulitzer for groundbreaking uploading of graphic imagery. Judges commended the website’s lack of ethical fibre in a fearless pursuit of pageviews at the expense of people’s privacy and safety.”
What The Onion appears to be trying to satirize – if we grant that the article is meant to be satire – is Chris Brown’s continuing lack of ownership over his own violence. But instead of saying something like, “Tearful Chris Brown finally admits to Barbara Walters that he’s never done anything wrong ever”, the article is all about Rihanna. All about committing acts of violence towards Rihanna. All about Chris-Brown-as-perpetual-violent-abuser and Rihanna-as-perpetual-victim.
Which brings up the topic of The Onion’s apparent indifference to the violence of white male celebrities. Their most recent articles on Charlie Sheen – who’s cropped up as a counter-example on Twitter a few times – include
Responsible, Thoughtful Nation Decides To Ignore Charlie Sheen Situation
… which delivers a serious poke at the everyday people who continue to prop up the gossip industry while simultaneously decrying its lack of ethics, and
A Troubled Sheen
… which includes a timeline of his fall from grace and pointedly criticises TV networks’ ongoing deference to him:
2010: CBS implores Sheen to keep doing whatever the hell he wants, but with at least the tiniest goddamn bit of discretion
Neither article mentions his history of domestic violence – which could be read as problematic in that it erases his serious crimes in favour of buying into the “wacky Charlie Sheen is wacky” narrative – but I’m really quite happy for The Onion to err, however unintentionally, on the side of basic decency with that one.
Chris Brown’s violence, on the other hand? Hi-larious.
There was a time, I’m sure, when The Onion was brilliant and edgy and breathtakingly funny. But if y’all didn’t get the hint that they’d turned to the dark side after the whole paywall thing, let this be your final straw.
(And no, I’m not linking to The Onion, because that’s their entire fucking plan.)