Websites that satirize common news articles and topics have steadily increased in popularity as time has gone on. I can remember when I was in high school, in the mid-2000s, and you were considered kind of a nerd for admitting you liked The Onion.
I was lucky to be a big enough loser that confessing to an appreciation of humorous “news” stories wouldn’t have been a blow to your place on the high school totem pole. But you were lucky to even find one or two people willing to say they enjoyed that style of humour. I am quite happy times have changed and news satire is now in vogue.
Now ubiquitous around the Internet and often confused with “fake/ hoax news,” these stories and sites are only for entertainment. That’s how they generate ad revenue and stay alive and relevant – not by pushing detrimental misinformation to get clicks and revenue, thus harming the functioning of our society.
Here are some satirical websites for you to read at your leisure. Enjoy!
Probably the most well-known satirical website, this parody of a stereotypical small-town newspaper features reports of mundane events, often with a “Man on the street” take on things.
Founded in 1988 as a print publication (which ended its run in 2013) The Onion’s tagline, “America’s Finest News Source,” still greets you anytime you visit the site.
In recent years, the website has backed off from the silly, light-hearted stories they were known for, moving into a more political realm. They’ve covered things like school shootings (one piece, titled “‘No Way To Prevent This,’” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens” is effectively a verbatim reprint of an article on gun violence, with only the date and a few names, places, and other small details changed), political figures, in addition to the occasional nonsensical piece.
Founded in 2014, this spoof of websites like BuzzFeed is perhaps best-known for its lists of bizarre things (my favourite of these might be the ranking of ten krill, which are a species of underwater crustacean). They also feature some surrealistic, tongue-in-cheek videos, poking fun at the inspirational content other clickbait sites are known for.
And it works, too. Like any good parody, Clickhole displays a good-natured sense of humour, showing respect for the source material. It doesn’t exist to drag clickbait sites into the dirt, nor does it rely so much on websites like BuzzFeed that it can’t function on its own as a pit-stop for some wholesome laughs.
The Hard Times
This website often posts pieces mocking punk rock, indie, and heavy metal subcultures. As such, they’re a really good place to visit if you are a music fan. Lately, many of the things they’ve written involve video games.
A lot of the pieces centre around in-jokes, which might only make sense to members of various musical communities (their articles about the toxic elements of punk scenes are always a treat to read). So, if you’re not familiar with how fans of a given genre might behave and how they might think, the humour may fall flat on its face.
But writing is always good. It’s rare that nothing makes sense, no matter the subject of a given article. I’ve only read a couple of pieces I didn’t find funny at all, and if I needed to familiarize myself with something, I just looked it up. Isn’t the internet wonderful?
Billing itself as “North America’s Trusted Source In News,” this Canadian site (headquartered in Toronto, Montreal, and Whitehorse) often reads like a gentler version of The Onion.
Of course, while there are political pieces – for as long as satire has existed, politics and politicians have been a constant source of inspiration, with writers and comedians mining them for pointed humour – they seem fewer than those The Onion posts.
Many of their subjects are the mundane, slice-of-life occurrences the average adult notices and chuckles at, but otherwise glosses over and moves on to something more important. This is the genius of good comedy, putting a magnifying lens up to everyday life and exploiting it for hilarious effect.
The last entry in this list is a bit of an anomaly among popular news satire websites, with a focus on poking fun at Christian news. But it does it well, and even atheists I know have shared content from Babylon Bee.
It seems to take an equal hand to Republicans and Democrats, which is a benefit to the publication. Effective satire cannot pick sides when it comes to satirizing an issue; more than one side can be at fault. There’s plenty of it that skewers one person, but the same publication can’t only attack that one side. They have to be as unbiased as a straightforward news source.
With 2020 underway, a lot will happen this year that we didn’t expect – as it always happens. No matter what goes on, satirists will have plenty of material to look at, dissect, and offer up in a humorous light for our amusement.
Happy New Year!