An article by the Onion decries the state of American technological innovation. What's so funny about that?
FORTUNE — On Tuesday, there was a real news story about a company that’s marketing bulletproof clothing for use by American schoolchildren. The day before, there was a fake news story, from The Onion, about how American innovation has stalled as companies like Twitter are increasingly cited as examples of the cutting edge of technological development.
It’s becoming harder to tell the fake stories from the real ones. America, it seems, is becoming satire-proof.
The best Onion parodies are the ones that come closest to reality, but maybe it’s possible to come too close. “Nation Starting to Realize New Era of American Innovation Never Gonna Happen” might be too close. It’s so close it’s almost not funny at all.
The opening paragraph:
If it weren’t for the Onionish tone, and the depiction of “citizens across the country” being up in arms, that sounds like a pretty typical bit of tech punditry — almost clichéd.
Likewise the following quote from a fake citizen. With just a little bit of work — even just a Google search — the Onion could easily have found a real citizen to say this:
And there are fake poll numbers that sound like they could easily be real.
There are of course plenty of real arguments along these lines, one of the better recent ones coming from Jason Pontin of MIT Technology Review, who wrote last October: