In today’s society, whether you are a conservative or are a liberal, the emotions that you experience from the news can range from simply infuriating to downright depressing. It’s in this very space that we need the help of satirists.
Just as watching the news can bring us down, parodies and satirists can bring us up by allowing us to laugh at the absurdity in the real-life, very-serious issues, and in many cases, politicians that plague us.
What follows is a list of seven out of the more brilliant parody and satire sites that you can find online to help get you through that midday slump.
Just as we have CNN as the first of the news networks, we have the Onion which was the first of the popular US news parodies. It began in the University of Wisconsin in 1988 as a student print paper. From there on it has grown to become an “omnipotent news empire”, to use its own words. Via print, mobile apps, broadcast, books, radio and, as of January this year, two television shows, it reaches millions the world over. The Onion’s niche is that it not only sends up the news, but the US media industry as a whole.
With stories such as “Internet Outrage Forces Public Into Street”, parodying the internet culture of everyone’s opinion being equally important regardless of the topic, there is an added element of humour in the way the news anchor presents this as a serious news story.
NewsBiscuit, announcing itself to be, “the news before it happens”, is Britain’s reply to The Onion. It was founded in 2006 by British comedian and writer John O’Farrell. Being the news before it happens, it proudly proclaims how it broke stories such as “George Bush’s struggle to explain an eight-year gap on his CV” and how, following the formation of the coalition government in the UK, “Nick Clegg play[ed] with a toy steering wheel during Prime Minister’s Questions”.
An added bonus with NewsBiscuit is that if one sees themselves as a budding satirist, it has a writer’s workshop for their readers from which the best are then featured on the site, or as they explain it: “NewsBiscuit still needs a limitless supply of free labour to oil the satirical cogs. And so, under the pretence of providing an outlet on the web for aspiring comedy writers, NewsBiscuit encourages outside contributors to submit stories and one-liners to its Writers’ Room, a form of wiki comedy writing that draws on the best principles of both David Cameron’s Big Society and outsourcing to Far East sweatshops”.
For the best of American political satire, you can’t beat Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report and Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, both of which are aired on the US cable television network, Comedy Central.
Comedy Central brings the best of these two shows and more with IndecisionForever.com. Set up to pillory the insanity of the 2010 US presidential elections, which of course gave the comedy-loving world none other than Sarah Palin, the website has lasted beyond that and is poised to take the lead yet again as yet another election season gears up.
The BBC, in a stroke of genius, created the online forum, “Have Your Say“, wherein their audience of “normal people” could “debate” the news stories of the day. People in general can be stupid, but online it seems this is even more pronounced and “Have Your Say”, carries on this proud tradition of internet stupidity.
Enter Nelson of “Have Your Say”, who, in an even greater stroke of genius, decided to compile together the very worst—or best, depending on your stance on the matter—of the show. The most racist, bigoted, homophobic, or plain badly-written (hence the site’s name) comments of “Have Your Say” make their way onto this site, where, to put it mildly, he tears them to shreds.
If parody is a satirical representation of real life, then “Speak You’re Branes”, by using real examples, is either lazy or brilliant. Either way, it is hilarious.
Though it’s one of the things that are meant to relax us, if you’re a sports fan, or even if you’ve witnessed one get worked up into a froth over the goings on in their favourite sport, you know sports can be anything but relaxing.
It’s at times like this SportsPickle can be just the answer. Since it is an American site and so focuses on American sports, it misses the obvious joke in America’s fascination with its faux-cricket and rugby-lite. However, articles such as “Twitter Helping You to Grow to Hate All Your Favourite Athletes“, it still proves to be very humourous.
Seven months to the day, this 1st of April, couldn’t have been a better for South African lovers of satire to hear the news that the much-loved-by-readers-but-not-so-much-by-advertisers hayibo.com was back “Breaking news. Into lots of little pieces”. Not only were they back, but they were back in top form as was proven by their first story, “MPs rushed to hospital as Hayibo returns”.
And for the laughs we can thank the good graces of publishing house Cape Media’s CEO, Andrew Fehrsen who generously has decided to sponsor Hayibo for a whole year. With South Africa going into election season, nobody except for perhaps South Africa’s politicians will view Hayibo’s return as anything less than laudable.
With the byline, “Conservative Values For An Unsaved World”, Christwire.org presents itself as a space where those destined to be saved come Judgement Day can commune and read about this Godless world we live in, as the sites “contributors” would say.And many do.
With headlines such as “Marijuana: Is Satan’s Seed Planted in Your Neighbourhood?” and “Is Feminist Angst Rooted in the Fact that Women Were Created for Man’s Pleasure?”, people often fall for Christwire’s gag, be the foe or supporter of the cause.
A perfect example of this was last year’s 15 point checklist for the concerned married woman, “Is My Husband Gay”, which produced 1700 indignant and offended comments. Not only was the casual reader fooled, even respected former blog-now-media house, The Huffington Post, also fell for the trick.