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What is the humor in the Ukraine war? It's always the Onion's way

The headline of the Onion had an effective satire: "Putin pleased as plot to ruin Russian Economy and destroy international standing goes exactly to plan."

- 303 reads.

What is the humor in the Ukraine war? It's always the Onion's way

The comedy website was willing to go there a month after Russia invaded Ukraine. The site satirically identified Russian President Vladimir Putin as having a college major in aggression. It also showed a resort on the coast of Ukraine with "extremely affordable rates right now" while stating that the United Nations is increasing its response to the invasion, from "warnings to stern warnings".

Too soon? Too bad.

Chad Nackers is editor-in-chief of The Onion. "Finding humor in the Ukraine situation serves multiple functions." It is a powerful tool to expose the folly, absurdity, and cruelty of humankind as well as providing relief from stressful situations and endless cycles of misery.

He says that laughter can fill the hole left by hopelessness.

Comedy has not ignored the war in Ukraine. Late-night TV has used Ukraine to make familiar or tangential punchlines -- Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump, or the quality Papa John's pizza. Stephen Colbert suggested that the United States add a T shirt cannon to its weapons sent to Ukraine. Jimmy Kimmel suggested that Putin was a war criminal after President Joe Biden had called him.

The Onion brand was born in the Midwest (Madison and Wisconsin) in 1988. There is a hint of gentility to its Ukraine humor. It doesn't touch on the human victims of war in any of its sarcasm.

Its list of possible outcomes for war ranged from "a lot speculative historical fiction to the Mets winning the World Series."

A mock slide show about Putin's rise in power shows a pregnant lady with the caption "Putin’s parents decide to try to get an evil megalomaniac." Another picture of a gravestone has the caption: "Opponent to student council treasurer suffers mystifying organ failure."

Sophia McClennen, a Penn State University Professor and author of "Trump was a Joke": How Satire Made Sense Of a President Who Didn’t, recalls the Onion’s decision to not ignore a controversial topic.

The cover of that issue featured President George W. Bush, with the headline "U.S. Vows to Defeat Anyone We're At War With

These were the most influential days for Onion. It stopped printing issues in 2013, and is now a website that receives traffic via social media posts. It is now competing online and in late-night TV comedy, which has grown more satirical following Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show," according to Robert Thompson, director at the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture, Syracuse University.

There is a rich history in satirical publications such as Mad magazine and National Lampoon. These magazines are places where the news meets the possibility of laughter that can decrease its heavyness. In the 1980s, Spy magazine was a popular and well-respected publication. Private Eye and Punch were both popular English magazines. In 2015, terrorists attacked Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper.

James Caron, author "Satire as the Comic Public Sphere" says that sometimes the Onion can look more entertaining than satirical.

Caron states, "It's just kinda silly at times."

It still has the ability to hit a target precisely. The Onion published essentially the same article in response to several mass shootings in America over the past decade. It changed only a few details and headlined it "No Way To Prevent This," which is the title of the article.

Nackers states, "It's just an endless loop of terror." People loved the way that the Onion balanced the repetition with its stories. It did so respectfully. Although it feels like a strong point is being made, it doesn't feel exploitative.

The Onion has 20 employees and is based in Chicago. The company has had a few corporate supervisors. Great Hill Partners purchased the Onion in 2019 from Univision, a communications company.

Nackers began his career as a photographer in 1997, making $10 per photo. He started contributing jokes and is now the site's writer. He saw satire become more serious after 9/11. The world's madness "kind of caught up to what used to be insanely satirical premises." As a result, the focus shifts between dark humor or the more frivolous.

Nackers states that "one thing we can kinda do, because of our a lot of editorial liberty, is that basically we are a truth-teller." "We get to the heart of things and expose truths by using humor, making jokes, and showing things as they are."

The Onion conducted a mock "fact-check" on Ukraine over the past month. The Onion responded to the claim that Russia claimed Ukraine was harboring biological weapons. It said, "Fascinating allegations about enemies holding biologic weapons is America's job."

The Onion stated that Rudy Giuliani was a valuable Russian asset who acted against Ukraine for the Kremlin. "REALITY" Rudy Giuliani is no longer of any value for anyone over the years.

Sometimes, the Onion's fake news is believed to be true by someone. For example, a Chinese newspaper published its declaration that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was the sexiest man in the world, adding its own slide show. Jordan LaFlure is senior managing editor.

LaFlure stated, "The story about the Onion tells how little we have changed." "We have a voice that is strong in spite of changing political climates. It is just a matter deciding which arrow to shoot at a specific target with.


 

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