Satire! Satire, people!


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This morning around 11:00 I was up at the counter and some woman needed help making some copies of a newspaper. She seemed somewhat normal but just a bit off. Kind of dowdy, mid-40s, slightly agitated. Whatever.

Turns out she was copying an article about being prepared for the Apocalypse. An article that was in fact what had her upset. So upset that she had to put a piece of paper over the image that went with it because it scared her so much.

Now at this point I should mention that I try very very hard not to pay attention to what people are copying for fear that they will try and tell me all about it. Especially when it comes to religion. Plus it’s none of my business.

So I silently helped her copy the two pages of the article as she explained that she had just found it and that she was making a copy for her sister as well. And how important the information was and how she had no idea about any of it before just now.

Her eyes had been opened, people!

And I continued just nodding along silently as she kept twittering away all freaked out about this article.

Then she told me that I might even want to read it because it really would open my eyes about the Apocalypse.

I couldn’t hold it any longer. I just couldn’t.

So I turned to her and said, “You know that it’s satire… right?”

“It’s what?”

“Satire. The Onion—that newspaper—is satire. The article is supposed to be funny.”

Blank stare. Then, “Well, it still has a lot of comprehensive information about the Apocalypse.” And she went on about her business.

I nodded and backed away slowly.

Later as she was paying for the copies, she was still talking about this article and how much it had upset her. Finally, she said to me, “Now I have to go home and research all the stuff in this article I didn’t even know about!”

I tried one last time in my best Very Serious Girl voice:

“You know that none of it is real, right? In the article? The Onion makes it all up. You understand that? Right?”

I think she finally did get it, because she suddenly looked rather embarassed and hurried out of the place as fast as her little legs could carry her.

So when I got home of course I had to track down the article.

Now I was trying to keep an open mind. Maybe it was easy to think this article was real. Maybe there was a level of subtlety involved in this particular article that I had heretofore never experienced in reading The Onion.

Some excerpts:

REPORT: Majority Of Americans Unprepared For Apocalypse
September 13, 2006 | Issue 42•37

… Despite “more than ample warning” for the most likely means of worldwide destruction, less than one million American households have taken even the simplest precautions against nuclear shockwaves, asteroid impact, or a host of angels bearing swords of fire, the study concluded….

.. One of the few survival measures that fulfills the Institute’s recommendations for most catastrophes—natural, manmade, or spiritual—is a mile-deep, lead-lined subterranean vault built to shield a pre-selected breeding group of humans until they can safely return to the planet’s surface. However, only two American citizens, both in Idaho, were found to have begun even the most cursory planning stages of this kind of race-preserving chamber.

…”I just renovated my house with cantilevered leaden cofferdams for increased earthquake and radiation protection, and I’m working on a pantheistic altar to appease the god or gods most likely to return to this world with an insatiable wrath,” said Seattle resident Tim Hanson, whose actions were praised in the study as a “highly rare display of prescience and vigilance.” More…

Helpful resource indeed.