Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Onion Sells Out

For the better part of a decade, I've been a fan of the Onion. It has consistently served up the kind of ironic, absurdist snark that is a part of any self-respecting iconoclast's balanced breakfast.

That may be changing. While watching the latest Onion News Network missive, something...well...something didn't smell right. Here. Watch for yourself:

Is the video snarky and ironic? Check and check. But it was also..several days before the release of the film...shilling for Paramount.

The primary subtext of this little bit of faux cynicism isn't insightful social commentary, or an elegantly veiled undercutting of a core absurdity of our culture.

Once you get past the cheap and easy digs at Trekker geek culture, what we're meant to take away is that this is a GREAT MOVIE! ACTION PACKED! BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE! WITH AMAZING SPECIAL EFFECTS! IT'S FUN FOR EVERYONE! PARAMOUNT DID A GREAT JOB! WE SHOULD ALL GO SEE IT!

That may, in fact, be true. I'm not in a position to judge, not having seen the film.

Saying it midway through next week would be social commentary. Saying it prior to the release of the film is just good ol' fashioned marketing. It is, at best, like a hipster version of the star-du-jour showing up on Good Morning America to pitch their upcoming major motion picture.

And when a formerly reliable cynic abandons their ironic detachment and becomes an instrument of a carefully constructed marketing campaign, well, it's the beginning of the end.