Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tricked into Paying Attention -- Writer's Poke #393




A Civil War rages on in Syria. Meanwhile, over the weekend, the Golden Globes (sponsors by the Hollywood foreign press) rolled out the red carpet to celebrate the hard work of American actors and actresses, who, for the most part, tell fictional stories for a living.

On my facebook feed, The Onion posted this headline: “The 6 Best Dresses at the Golden Globes.” So, yes, I clicked on it, only to find, without any explanation whatsoever, six pictures from the war in Syria. The caption to each picture was apparently real, but taken from a red carpet picture.


The juxtaposition of the images and the captions was, well, quite effective. 

I’m not sure how The Onion got its name, but when I think of an onion, I think of something which is multi-layered -- something that tastes good on hamburgers. I also think of something which makes you cry when you cut into it, and makes your breath stink when you eat it.

All in all, a perfect name for a satirical paper.

If you’re like most Americans, over the past couple of days, you probably at least noticed some of the dresses worn by Hollywood’s top females. But when was the last time you took notice of the images coming out of Syria? Why do we have to be tricked into pay attention?

What makes satire (The Onion, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, etc.,) so effective? Why are Americans apparently willing to get “real news” from satirical sources, but are not willing to pay attention to “serious news” from traditional sources?

“In times like these it is difficult not to write satire.” – Juvenal 

p.s. Just this morning, I read that a bomb hit a school in Syria while students were taking final exams, killing eighty. Should we feel comfortable in America celebrating and watching movies while parts of the world burn?

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