The Onion vs.the Weekly World News

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Well, that explains everything...

I know there are people out there who think The Onion is the greatest comedy rag since National Lampoon or Spy, but I've always found it hit or miss. On my bulletin board is one of the hits: "Food Critic Tears Radish Canap├ęs With Salmon Mousse A New Asshole." That header says it all. I still laugh out loud when I read it. Maybe because I was once Phoenix New Times' food critic.

But The Onion also features snoozers like this one with a PHX connection somebody just sent me, "DNA Evidence Frees Man From Zoo." The premise is that a Mesa dood was mistaken for a giraffe by zookeepers and was only recently released after DNA tests were done to determine his species. Not a bad bit, but hardly Family Guy-level material.

Personally, I prefer the tabloid wackiness of the Weekly World News over The Onion. The latter is tongue in cheek, yet the former's mouth muscle is proudly unfurled. Both produce fake news stories. But while no one believes The Onion's stories, there is a small percentage that actually takes the WWN as gospel.

Indeed, the WWN nourishes a deep-seated need in the American psyche for the bizarre and outrageous, stories about Bat Boy, Jesus in a tortilla, Elvis alive and well on Mars, and Thomas Jefferson's alien love child, to name a few. Plus, WWN's usually far more inventive than anything The Onion produces, with an advice column from "Lester the Talking Horse," an exclusive report from inside the gates of Hell, Bigfoot crossword puzzles, an ailing Fidel Casto treated by space aliens, and so on. As you can tell, I'm a subscriber.

Soon to be former subscriber. The South Florida Sun-Sentinal is reporting that though the online version of the paper will continue indefinitely, the print version of Art Bell's favorite read will cease after the August 27 issue. Why? Why do you think? No ads, a steep drop in circ numbers, and competition from upstarts like, well, The Onion.

I've noted a certain generational disdain for the WWN. Most 20-somethings think The Onion rocks, but only know the WWN as that wack-ass paper they've seen at grocery store checkouts next to the hand sanitizer and the Slim Jims. Once they look through it, however, they're ordinarily won over. It could be the visual style of the paper, too, which resembles old-fashioned tabloid shtick, and is black-and-white to boot. Maybe the lack of color photography boggles Gen Y's sense of aesthetics.

I'll miss it. I know it'll be online, but the Internet version seems less crackpot for some reason. More like everything else online these days. Well, at least I have a few boxes of back issues. Next to my National Lampoons, Mad Magazines, and old copies of Omni. If Armageddon comes as the WWN promises it will, I'll be set.


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