Monday, August 26, 2013
As you might have all recognized by now, Jan Brewer isn't actually making a move to implement some sort of crazy, anti-gay measure in this state, despite what your reactionary family, friends and neighbors have shared on Facebook. That's awesome—but what's not awesome is how these "satirists" are making everyone else look.
As noted last week by the Weekly's Mari Herreras, the "news" that our fair Governor was instituting a change to the public school curriculum that was intended to scare gay kids straight was, thankfully, false.
What's bothers me is that, by my count, this is at least the third "satirical" story that's caught a significant amount of fire in recent memory, with one being the Daily Currant's idea that Egypt issued a warrant for Jon Stewart's arrest, and roughly anything that Andy Borowitz writes for the New Yorker.
Now, while the Internet gives a voice to any idiot with a keyboard and an idea, the work that those idiots produce in the name of being "funny" distracts from real, thought-provoking ideas, becoming the noise that scrambles the signal.
Such as with the National Report, which sounds enough like the National Review to give the illusion of credibility; or the Daily Currant, which is one letter away from becoming the name of a legitimate news source and not a berry; or The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz, who is a damn fine writer, but should have the same rules applied to him regarding satire as sex offenders get regarding schools (not allowed within 500 feet of, regarded with disdain and disgust for his past acts, etc.).
Satire should be biting—it should call attention to the main issue by distorting reality; it should at least sound smart; it should be funny; and (most importantly) it shouldn't distract people from the point by stirring up outrage for page views.
And that's the problem with these websites — they're too desperate for attention to realize that they're screwing themselves, their message, and incidentally, anyone who writes anything on the Internet
The Report's "Brewer Teaches the Gay Away" post sounded plausible because it was too busy citing CNN and Fox News as sources and falsifying quotes from (often deserved) liberal targets such as Brewer and Joe Arpaio to distort reality.
If you write satire just to screw with people and get pageviews, you're not just hurting your own image, but you're hurting the public's depiction of the medium you've chosen. For every savvy person out there who realizes that there are people who make things up on the Internet, there are 10 people out there who don't think critically enough about what they're reading to realize that it's bullshit. They screw up the curve for everyone else, causing people to further distrust what they're reading—and not in the "question everything" way, but in the "this is all lies, I have to follow the only folks I can trust" way.
These are the people who are de-legitimizing thought-provoking writing on the Internet, because they're too busy trying to put themselves and their work over to do real, actual good—or at least be entertaining, like The Onion.
In other words, the National Report and its ilk are responsible for Fox News.