Parodies and the Public: Is Everyone so Gullible?

Fox Nation readers confuse Onion article with real news

I’m not really a pundit, I just play one on the web. And on occasion, commensurate with my faux punditly duties, I write a parody post. I may do this as a commitment to one of my core principles, “Scorn is mightier than ignorance”, or I might be bored or ready for a rant or just because I want to have a little fun – a pundit’s work is never done.

However, one of the consistent things about these parodies is that they always draw some proportion of people who actually believe them. One a few months back required me to add a disclaimer for fear open warfare would break out between the people who believed it was real and defended its “truth” and the people who believed it was real and tried to refudiate it.

Refudiate something that wasn’t true. Odd concept that.

Causing an Ideological War of the Worlds
I like to think I can sling a pithy narative as well as the next guy – certainly better than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – but, I find it hard to believe that my parodies are so great and realistic I might accidentally cause some sort of an ideological War of the Worlds.

I used to be mildly pleased by this. Ha ha, look how I pulled the wool over their eyes! It made me feel superior in the same way watching Jerry Springer makes me feel superior. I may be a goob, but at least I’m not an uber-goob who takes DNA tests to prove which of the 37 trailer park coquettes he’s been banging carries his child (it turns out about 34).

But as I rack up my tally of rubes, I’ve begun to wonder about the wider implications.

Our national discourse has become so rancorous and full of outright lies and gross distortions, you can’t even make things up anymore. People actually believed my  piece on the affair between Suzanne Malveaux and George Bush. Ditto my recent piece covering the Tea Party’s outrage over Obama pardoning Thanksgiving terror turkeys.

This may explain the popularity of  The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert‘s testimony to Congress. We know people watch those shows for their news, but the assumption that viewers understand they’re seeing imaginary news may be too broad.

The REAL Thanksgiving
Even when people watch mainstream news outlets like Fox, their common sense takes a powder. As I write this, Rush Limbaugh is pontificating on how the Indians scammed us on Manhattan and the pilgrims failed because they were socialists, a view supported by an honest to God US Congressman.

There was a day when that would’ve caused most people to shake their heads and think, “DAMN, there are a lot of imbeciles.” These days it draws a yawn, and in a truly troubling number of cases, more people who believe the blatant fantasies.

One of the core principles of the Founding Fathers was that of a well informed electorate. For example, believing horses could talk would at least cause the Founders to question your critical thinking skills. Today, pro-horse talking and anti-horse talking factions would form, there would be rancorous debate, and new laws enacted that both forbade and supported talking horses as a dozen different talking horse lobbies demanded.

We may have become too stupid and gullible to vote, particularly when the people we vote into office think the pilgrims failed because they were socialists. I’m tempted to write a parody about this, but it’s impossible.

There’s not enough believable reality left to craft a decent faux reality.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Symposium 1001: a beginners guide to spot McBloggers, freepers, Paulites and other trolls. Updated.

Redacted (once again I am too toxic to be a upright member of this blog)

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