The Onion is without a doubt an oft’ quoted American resource. Whether junk-attached to emails or headlining at reputable blogs (sic), much like Oprah, it is out there and ready for a consuming public. In 28 July’s article, Apple got what could have been another funny kick in the pants from a hardy-har The Onion news story about the latest iPhone, the 3GI. The premise was great, a new – and this time invisible – product from Apple which offers much less than any other phone on the market, unless you are a believer.
Apple’s most faithful can see the phone, and use it, but no one else can. Hmmm… I’ve seen this before. As a half-and-half Apple fan, I read on, awaiting the article’s biting mirth, the bitter tears, the point. While The Onion have aptly grasped much of the company’s commercial target: zealots, the weak minded and got-to-have-its; they missed the mark. In the article, Steve Jobs addresses the most faithful of Apple crowds, presenting the thinnest and lightest iPhone yet – a phone composed of more air than the thinnest MacBook model. Believably, the crowd, like that of a travelling healer were initially sceptical, but in the end, caved to the Steve’s charisma.
While certainly snigger-worthy, the Onion’s article hasn’t any bite. It has been done before, countless times in traditional media sources, classroom mocumentaries, blogs and by the former faithful. Like Apple, the Onion is, for its witty fans, a corporation who can do no wrong. They are funny, God, they are funny… aren’t they? It is almost nonsensical how often I am suggested to read their webpage by one of their faithful, and how often again, I wonder what in the hell is that funny.
But, like Apple, The Onion has come a long way from its humble beginnings at the University of Madison Wisconsin, where the pair of third-year students, Tim Keck and Christopher Johnson, planted the seed in 1988, watched it grow for a year, and then sold it for 20 000$. Now, it boasts the better part of 700 000 print-subscribers from the United States alone, and combined with its website readership, is an influential media distributor. But, has its success gone to its head? Perhaps I just don’t ‘get it’, or more likely, I just haven’t grown up under its iconic influence. Or, perhaps I just don’t have enough faith; I lack that deep-routed soulish desire to laugh with them. To put it in terms which are closer to dear TMA’s heart, I could be likened to a Zune fan – the type of person who hates Apple’s methods, but who will embrace even tighter restraints in order to ‘be different’.
What the Onion does well is explose bit of truth in the midst of satire to reveal knee-jerk reactions. Some recent ‘clever’ articles, Media Having Trouble Finding Right Angle On Obama’s Double-Homicide and Lance Armstrong Inspires Thousands To Come In Third To Cancer have a bit more bite in them. But as an allegorical Zune fan, I shun the laughter-inducing The Onion fandom of my colleagues for the fiestier, smaller, and bitier The Daily Mash – a publication that really has its users in mind.
The original The Onion article can be read here.
And for The Onion‘s history? Wikipedia seems darn okay by me!