Monday, 1 December 2008

This Is The News

Without wishing to sound too much like someone who completely wasted his higher education by trotting out half-remembered academic theories from a useless-in-any-given-practical-situation Media Studies degree*, the news is a ridiculously fabricated object with a tangential relationship to the concept of objectivity**. In that respect, this blog is very much a tribute to those people who puncture the pomposity balloon with their finely honed satirical pin. Basically, I like spoof news stuff and here is why:-

1. On The Hour / The Day Today / Brass Eye - The very pinnacle of spoof newsery. Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci and their cast of writer/performers (including Steve Coogan and Father Ted's Arthur Matthews and Graham Linehan) hit the nail very much on the head with these current affairs and consumer spoofs.*** Why are they so good? Well, for me, it's not because it's about the spot-on satire of actual events but because they so accurately spoof the style, the mannerisms and the unnecessarily flashy and gimmicky trappings of news-style programming that they're so good. That, spliced with a strong sense of absurdity and a healthy dose of top sweariness and you've got yourselves a succession of winners.

2. The Onion - I was a big fan of this back in the day, particularly around the time that I was starting to get most of my news via online instead of print media (Paper? Paper's too slow for news. The news is happening now, dammit!) It felt very much in the same tradition as The Day Today although obviously, this time, specifically satirising the latest news, although it does throw in the odd surreal flight of fancy too. The main problem with the Onion I find is that its articles can have a tendency to drag on past the end of the joke (occasionally redeeming themselves by the end but not always). In recent months, this has been supplanted by a new favourite...

3. The Daily Mash - Inspired by The Onion, it's a British take on the spoof news and, as such, feels both edgier and far more inventively sweary. It's the sort of site that you have to be careful if you're looking at in the office as it may cause loud bursts of laughter. It is hit and miss, not every article is a winner, but when they hit the mark, it can be genius. They also (generally) know when to get out once a joke is up. Timing in comedy is everything after all.

Remember, it's an important, terrifying, news-worthy world out there. Time to start taking the piss out of it, then.

* Alright, so that's a thinly veiled disclaimer for what I'm about to do but stick with me, OK? Have I ever steered you wrong? Alright, apart from that time. And I thought we'd promised never to talk about that again, anyway...

** No, seriously, stick with me, I'm going somewhere with this.

*** Before anyone gets pernickety, I know that Armando Iannnucci had nothing to do with Brass Eye but it's easier to discuss them together. It's important to get the facts right. Because fact into doubt won't go.

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