Shock and Awe at The Onion

The OnionI read two excellent articles on The Onion today. One shocked me and the awed me. Hence the title.

The first was Adidas Unveils New Running Shoe For Fleeing From Mass Shootings. It is a pretty standard Onion story. At least, it is until the last sentence:

NEW YORK—With the launch Tuesday of a massive nationwide ad campaign, athletic footwear manufacturer Adidas has officially unveiled the Adidas Bystander, the first shoe designed for running away from a mass public shooting. “From its reinforced tread engineered specifically for running in a zigzag pattern to its whisper-quiet, low-squeak rubber, the Bystander combines speed and stealth to create the perfect shoe for escaping or hiding from an armed murderer,” Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said at a press conference. “And its brand-new Firmo-Grip sole minimizes slippage, even when you’re panicked and need to move quickly through puddles of freshly spilled blood. No shoe has ever been better suited for today’s running, crouching, and cowering needs.” The shoes, which go on sale at the end of the month, will be available for wearers as young as 5.

Wow. All I could think was that The Onion really is America’s Finest News Source. With that one sentence, they put America’s gun problem into perspective. Of course, I would note that 5 years of age is probably a little old.

The second story is from last month and it has me in awe of The Onion writers. It is perhaps the best social satire since A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick. (I love 18th century titles!) The Onion reported, Romney Drops By To See How Down-And-Out Family He Met On Campaign Trail Doing. That’s a pretty good title, but the article itself is pitch perfect. You should go over and read the whole thing, but here’s an abridged version:

CANTON, OH—According to reports, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney stopped by Wednesday morning to check up on Allen and Brenda Spearing, a financially strapped mother and father of three with whom he met briefly and had his photo taken while campaigning last year.

Family members said Romney, who arrived at their home unaccompanied and unannounced, warmly greeted them when they opened the door and, after he was invited inside, spent more than three hours catching up with them.

“It’s been a few months since I’ve seen you guys, so I thought I’d pop by and see how everyone is holding up,” Romney said after hugging the Spearings, who confirmed the 2012 GOP nominee has phoned or emailed regularly since the October campaign stop during which he shook their hands for five seconds and assured them he would work hard for their family if elected president…

After several minutes of small talk with the Spearings, Romney reportedly steered the discussion to their financial situation, first suggesting ways the family could refinance their costly mortgage and then going over some job leads he had researched for Allen, who was laid off from his position at an automotive plant last August.

“The job market is tough right now, and trust me, you’re not the only one going through this,” said Romney, putting his arm around the 46-year-old father. “But listen, I know a few people in the manufacturing sector, and I’ve been putting in some calls for you. I’m sure one of these prospects will work out sooner or later.”

“In the meantime, take the wife and kids out for a nice meal on me,” added Romney, discreetly handing Spearing several $20 bills from his wallet….

The visit to the Spearings’ home was immediately followed by a trip to the nearby Deer Creek Retirement Center, where sources said Romney spent one-on-one time with all 200 residents, each of whom he appeared to know by name. He then met with a cash-strapped small business owner in danger of losing her family-run restaurant, personally combing through the woman’s entire 2012 IRS filing in search of any additional tax credits she might be able to take advantage of next year.

As with every voter Romney has visited—from Virginia to Wisconsin to Colorado—the Spearings expressed their gratitude for the former Massachusetts governor’s heartfelt concern.

“I’m ashamed to admit it now, but when we first met him during the campaign, I thought maybe he was just saying all that stuff because he was running for president, you know?” Allen Spearing told reporters. “It turns out that’s just the kind of guy Mitt is.”

“He told my family he cared about us, and he really does,” Spearing added.

At press time, Romney had reportedly left Ohio just in time to make it to his weekly five-hour volunteer shift at a soup kitchen in New Hampshire.

Not to make too big a deal about it, but this highlights how we all play a role in these ridiculous social rituals. All the people who met with Romney and Obama know that it isn’t real. The candidate pretends that he cares and the people pretend that they believe him. But what if Romney really did care about these people? It would be a full time job. And that’s why people like him only pretend to care: to get a powerful job like the President of the United States. Otherwise, fuck the people.


Romney giving the family $100 for dinner would be like me giving them less than a penny. (I calculated it!)

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Shock and Awe at The Onion

  1. Awesome stuff. During the campaign, I mentioned to family members how disappointed I was to find out what one brother did at Bain (although I suspected it to be evil; generally, when someone is very unclear about their job responsibilities, they are either conning their employers or doing something evil.)

    I was told, "no, Bain helped people who lost jobs find new ones." Which I have a hard time believing. Unless it was in the "Up In The Air" sense or, more likely, the "here’s some numbers of your local state unemployment agency, enjoy!" sense.

    I don’t read the Onion much anymore since they canned their print edition (and behind the scenes, were pretty brutal to a lot of staff in the process, while moving their HQ from Madison to Chicago), but that’s a brilliant bit. I wish I knew who wrote it!

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