Yo, Chinese Communist Party: They were only KIDDING about Kim Jong-Un being the sexiest man alive
-- The Onion's "style and entertainment editor,"
"No doubt the women of Beijing are swooning. After all, if you squint really, really hard, you might see a slight resemblance [between Kim Jong-Un and] George Clooney — in that they are both sentient humans."
-- WaPo's Al Kamen, in "China takes the Onion's bait"
This one definietely comes from our You Can't Make This Stuff Up Dept.
Anyone who has tried his hand at satire knows there are built-in pitfalls. The most obvious one is that so many real-world human behaviors are so outlandish as to defy exaggeration. The classic example is soap operas, but another whole category is modern-day right-wing pols. How do you satirize already-cartoon-conceived characters like John Boehner and Jim DeMint, or
Or, for that matter presidential candidates of the "stature" of Young Johnny McCranky or Willard Inc.? What was the David Letterman line about Young Johnny -- that he's like the cranky old guy who chases kids off his lawn? Once you've made that connection, how do you take seriously anything that comes out of his mouth? And as for Willard, well, what're you gonna do? Make up stories about how he traveled with the family dog caged on top of the car pooping diarrhea down the sides? (Yes, I'm talking about you, Gail Collins.) Or how the great love of his wife's life is a dancing horse?
A special version of this satirical glitch occurs when the satirist's wild exaggerations turn out to be only too believable. The folks at The Onion run into this problem a lot, and as Al Kamen reports in his Washington Post "In the Loop" column, it's happened once again on an international scale.
Over at The Onion, are they stricken with remorse and issuing desperate apologies? Not at all. Here's the original item with "UPDATE":
Looks as though sarcasm is easily lost in translation — or easily ignored. The online version of the People’s Daily, the official organ of China’s Communist Party, lauded a story from the satirical news site that named North Korean dictator Kim Jong Eun 2012’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”
Not realizing — or perhaps not caring — that the Onion was being cheeky, the People’s Daily ran a 55-page photo spread to accompany the story, which it quoted thusly: “With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.”
No doubt the women of Beijing are swooning. After all, if you squint really, really hard, you might see a slight resemblance to George Clooney — in that they are both sentient humans.
It’s not the first time a foreign news outlet has fallen for an Onion spoof. An Iranian news agency this fall reprinted an Onion story about a poll finding that rural white Americans would rather vote for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than President Obama. The news site later apologized for getting duped — but insisted that Ahmadinejad could beat Obama in a popularity contest.
The Onion is proud to announce that North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, 29, has officially been named the newspaper’s Sexiest Man Alive for the year 2012.
With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.
“He has that rare ability to somehow be completely adorable and completely macho at the same time,” Onion Style and Entertainment editor Marissa Blake-Zweibel said. “And that’s the quality that makes him the sort of man women want, and men want to be. He’s a real hunk with real intensity who also knows how to cut loose and let his hair down.”
Added Blake-Zweibel, “Ri Sol-ju is one lucky lady, that’s for sure!”
With today’s announcement, Kim joins the ranks of The Onion’s prior “Sexiest Man Alive” winners, including:
2011: Bashar al-Assad
2010: Bernie Madoff
2009: Charles and David Koch (co-winners)
2008: Ted Kaczynski
2007: T. Herman Zweibel
The Onion’s commemorative “Sexiest Man Alive” issue will be available on newsstands everywhere this Friday and contains a full 16-page spread on Kim.
UPDATE: For more coverage on The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive 2012, Kim Jong-Un, please visit our friends at the People's Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc. Exemplary reportage, comrades.
[Note: I've inserted WaPo's AP link for the People's Daily story. Was it part of the joke on The Onion's part to include a bum link? -- Ed.]