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WATCH: How Can We Add Some Funny To This Onion “Satire” Of A Bullied Gay Teen?

Sometimes satire isn’t meant to be funny, but there’s something about this Onion parody of a bullied gay teen that just doesn’t sit well with me. Yes, satire can expose the sad side of unfortunate issues in new and insightful ways, but it generally should still make us laugh or donate some humor into a dark situation, which this does not.

Methinks perhaps The Onion played it safe here, and was afraid to parody homosexuality. It doesn’t even seem like a fully fleshed out story: gay teen gets bullied, gay teen eats lunch on the stairwell. Meh. One of the kids’ lines doesn’t make sense: he’d like to eat in the stairwell on weekends?

F**k no—a gay teen wants to go to the mall on the weekends and eat McDonald’s with his best bitches. If this kid is too young to have homosexual aspects, or isn’t showing them, he would pass unnoticed by the other kids and probably wouldn’t be bullied as much.

It’s okay, Onion. You can make fun of gay people, even gay teens—we can take a joke just like the rest of you. Just don’t take it too far, and stick close to the stereotypes that ring true.

So here’s an edit on your piece: how about we have give this closeted 12-year-old either (a) a best girlfriend who eats lunch with him as they discuss how awesome Justin Bieber is, and they’re both bullied by Bieber-phobes and hold a pro-Bieber rally or (b) a lesbian friend who eats right next to him in the stairwell but they have nothing to talk about?

I kind of like (b): there can be awkward silences between the gay boy being ecstatic about Madonna’s album and the lesbian girl’s passion for finding vintage Ani DeFranco vinyl at local thrift shops.

By:           Evan Mulvihill
On:           Mar 9, 2012
Tagged: , , ,
    • Kamuriie

      I normally love The Onion, but I didn’t laugh at this at all. Am I missing something?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 10:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • doug105

      i think they’re trying to show that there is nothing funny about it.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 10:29 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike

      Wow, the Onion seldom fails, but this is a total fail, just don’t get it.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:25 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John

      “Still closeted 7 year old…” on a news report, the idea of a kid find solace in a staircase, at school nonetheless, rather than at home, having a number to the times of being called a faggot, so researched, but nothing done against? It may not be golden, but the satire’s there.

      Then again, I got the impression that maybe he just really likes the staircase and everyone else is just trying to make a big deal out of it?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:26 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark

      You guys, the Onion satirizes everything under the sun, no matter how controversial it is. Does this hit close to home? Sure, but is it any more offensive than the time they live-tweeted a supposed gunman on Capitol Hill? Or their coverage of 9/11? You may not personally find this piece entertaining, but please don’t be the kind of person who gets angry over the Onion.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • camembert

      @doug105: I completely agree with your interpretation. What’s funny about the odd-kid-out eating lunch alone everyday?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Samwise

      I don’t know… in an odd way, I think it’s funny because it’s painful and sad. And true. When I was in 7th grade, I didn’t have “best bitches” to go to the mall with. This is reality for a lot of gay kids. It strikes the same poignant chord as this classic: http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-15yearold-only-homosexual-in-whole-world,791/

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:53 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Seamus

      I found it amusing because of how pathetic it is that the child is ostracized and abused so much by his peers that he actually enjoys eating alone now. Sometimes something tragic can also be funny. ‘Funny,’ however, is subjective. That being said, I don’t find it offensive.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kirby

      clearly they are trying to show it’s not funny, I get it

      Mar 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      Sorry Evan/QUEERTY, but this is the classical Greek rhetoric of satire — its not supposed to be funny, it is to show, without hyperbole, the very dark side of human nature and consequences. And these consequences are very dark — a kid forced to find solace by eating alone in a windowless stairwell.

      [The form of satire is very different from, say, Noel Coward’s use in his many satirical stage plays.]

      How very poignant this video is — Well done Onion.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Christopher Banks
      Christopher Banks

      I like it – think it would make a good campaign video.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adrian

      The satire comes from the fact that no one is really putting a gun to this kids head, forcing him to eat on the staircase, and the fact that the reporter may be assuming the kid is gay simply because he is perceived as gay and called a “fag” by other students.

      If the kid would fight back then it wouldn’t be satire, it would be an action movie.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hyhybt

      I *like* stairwells. “Halfway down the stairs is the stair where I sit/There isn’t any other stair quite like it/I’m not at the bottom, I’m not at the top/So this is the stair where I always stop.”

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kyle

      @Mark: No they don’t. Do they satirize Jews in WWII? No. They satirize lynchings? No, they don’t. They wouldn’t dare. But, they would “dare” with gays, because they are “allowed” by society.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kyle

      @The Real Mike in Asheville: Wrong.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kyle

      @The Real Mike in Asheville: I posted before I finished…
      then in the same ocntext, was Jerry Lewis’s dressing up as a clown and marching Jews into ovens be considered satire?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adrian


      out of curiousity. does this Onion video upset you? if so why? also, have you gotten upset by other Onion videos or just this one?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Scott

      For once The Onion did a piece properly, without going over the top. I can see how people will laugh at the ridiculousness of a kid sitting alone in a stairwell and calling him a loser but that same person will eventually come to the realization that this kind of thing could happen. Especially if that person births a kid who’s picked on in school. This piece plants a seed.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Harvard

      All gay teens want to go to the mall and eat McDonalds with their best bitches? F**k NO! The suggested improvements to the video are actually ideas for completely different videos: the point here is that the kid feels alone and isolated. The problem isn’t that the Onion is afraid to make fun of gays, the problem is you didn’t laugh. I don’t think they meant us to laugh.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @kyle: @kyle: Well, Kyle, Mel Brooks made his satires of Nazis in both the Producers and its “Spring Time for Germany, and Hitler Too!” and “To Be or Not To Be”. Of course, there is Chaplin’s “The Dictator”, too.

      Regarding lynchings, there is the wonderful satire “Oh Brother, Where Are Art Thou”, oh, and, of course, Mel Brooks, again, “Blazing Saddles” with the amazing scene of Cleavon Little [he is black in case you don’t know of him] confronted by an angry racist mob that the town has hired a black man as their new sheriff, quells the crowd by pulling a gun and pointing it at his own head, with the line “Hold it! Next man moves, and the n-word gets it!”


      Expand your understanding of rhetorical strategy Kyle, you might learn something. This video make viewers hold the opposite of the storyline — it is very well written and very successful as satire and, more importantly, as an argument for adults to get involved in ending bullying.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kyle
      kyle [Different person #1 using similar name]

      @Adrian: It’s not funny. Does it bother me? Yes. Why? Because it’s not funny. If they did a headline like, Area Black Saves Money On Gas By Getting Dragged By Pickup” and I didn’t think it was funny, would you ask me the same question?

      And, no. I love The Onion. Area Homosexual Saves Four From Fire is one of my favorites.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 6:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave

      I agree with Mark. Don’t get angry at the Onion they make fun of everything and everyone. Haven’t you ever read it?

      Mar 9, 2012 at 6:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lew Ojeda
    • Zack

      it made me feel kind of sorry for that kid

      Mar 9, 2012 at 9:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adrian

      @kyle: I think there is a difference in not finding something funny and getting upset over something. if you don’t find something funny yet others do, then you simply don’t share something in common with those people. there’s no need to get upset about it…unless you feel left out. that’s all.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 9:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sceth

      Comedy with a subversive punchline is dark/black/Russian/British; with a suppressed (or stupid, or completely absent) punchline it’s “unfunny.” I’d class this as dark uncomedy.

      Regardless, I lolled.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Pathos. I didn’t have a problem with it.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark
      Mark [Different person #1 using similar name]

      Who wrote this piece? KUDOS to The Onion for the thought provoking video and BOOS to those who apparently can’t follow anything above the level of Donald Duck.

      Mar 9, 2012 at 11:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • someone

      who wrote wrote this is an idiot “stick close to the stereotypes that ring true.” not all gays act in accord with stereotypes. The onion did as was said above classic Greek dark satire. There is no hyperbole ie a kid throwing his purse around and going with “his bitches” to the mall. What the onion did was showing real human behavior, you are supposed to laugh at the ridiculousness of im “wanting” to eat alone, because he doesn’t he wants people to stop mocking him, wants to be normal. Just because you can’t understand anything above “loony tunes” doesn’t mean everyone wants to see an obvious parody of “stereotypes that ring true”

      Mar 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ed

      Of course its not funny. Its not supposed to be. The piece is perfect the way it is, and the cutesy, sitcomesque additions you suggest would ruin it. Frankly,the fact that you don’t get this explains why you’re writing for Queerty instead of The Onion.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 1:22 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ed

      If this kid is too young to have homosexual aspects, or isn’t showing them, he would pass unnoticed by the other kids and probably wouldn’t be bullied as much.

      I assume you missed this bit:

      McElroy, who has revealed his sexual orientation to no one but is unceasingly ridiculed by his peers for perceived feminine qualities in his voice, dress, and gait…

      It may be the most effective and heartbreaking part of the story, and you missed it completely.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 1:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lon

      Satire ! always == comedy.

      I watched it. The satire is pretty self-evident.
      If anyone is still confused, please read up on what satire actually is.

      Mar 12, 2012 at 5:35 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Katt

      This is fine satire. I read this article and the comments and then watched the video. I still laughed! Then I felt bad about laughing at defensless bullied gay kid, who did nothing to deserve his forced exile. I thought “If I were at that school I would eat with him or take up for him in a fight.” It worked! Can you imagine how much more it would work on others who don’t have to read these overly sensitive comments or an article that touts how “not funny” it is?

      Mar 13, 2012 at 11:57 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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