Dec. 21, 2012 by zschonfeld
Over at PopMatters, Wesleyan senior Zach Schonfeld ’13 discusses rituals and routines in mass media coverage of the Newtown shooting. Merging cultural criticism with personal essay, Schonfeld argues that The Onion has been responsible for some of the most poignant and resonant reportage of recent violence, strangely enough:
In the Internet age, there’s a ritualistic regularity to the aftermaths of these shootings that is terrifying and routine and terrifying in its routineness. Like clockwork, the violence erupts as regularly as daylight savings, and the same recurring web of media rituals and policy debates snaps dutifully into place, for two weeks or maybe three—charged quibbles over gun control and mental health, arguments about parenting and school security and video games and bullying and concealed carry and godlessness—and then we move on with our lives and forget, those of us who are lucky enough to be able to move on at least, until it’s on to the next. It’s always on to the next.
What does satire have to do with all of this? In an era that marries a 24-hour media cycle with unprecedented flurries of mass murder, it takes a fake news organization to cut through the tropes and forge insight and truth from searing senselessness. In its coverage of recent shootings, the newspaper has found currency in tapping into and articulating national horror and fatigue instead of mocking it. Rather than being tasteless or even funny, really, The Onion has developed a startling voice that contains as much rage as it does humor, as much pathos as parody.
Read the full piece here.