Brave Virginia Heffernan launched a brazen attack against The Onion in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, slamming the faux-news organization's year-old Onion News Network. Chagrined, one of the Network's biggest supporters fired back with the following volley:
ONN plays, loud and proud, what you sometimes think you hear in mainstream news. On a typical news day, it's like an auditory hallucination, that note of contempt, present in phrases like "the human cost" and "area man." The contempt rings in the booming baritones of spokesmen and anchormen, and in the sneers of correspondents: over-the-top jingoism, xenophobia, snobbism, disgust, dismissiveness.
Who is this relic from the past, touting the virtues of what is clearly nothing more than a new media disaster? Find out after the jump.
The depressive, contemptuous voice that works so well in print for the Onion franchise can become suddenly loud and shrill. ONN embodies its misanthropic stereotypes in flesh-and-blood actors, and that means the occasional stab of sympathy can overwhelm the viewer's willingness to laugh.
While The Onion's mastery of the print form doesn't seem to be dimming, the Onion News Network is so self-congratulatory in its humor that it might as well play with a laugh track.
The genius of The Onion was that it looked like real news. A video podcast doesn't look like real news, not after Weekend Update, The Daily Show, and Heffernan's preferred alternative The Colbert Report. The words 'Time Magazine Releases Its Least Influential People List' are best never spoken aloud.
Broadcast Spoofs [NYT]