‘No way to prevent this’: why the Onion’s gun violence headline is so devastating & More Trending News


After every mass taking pictures in the US come the acquainted rituals: the ideas and prayers, the presidential visits, the flood of media protection – and a darkly memorable headline from a pretend newspaper.

“No way to prevent this, says only nation where this regularly happens.”

The Onion’s reposting of its piece, with a couple of particulars localized to the newest taking pictures, has change into an anticipated a part of the cycle, underscoring the horrific toll of nationwide paralysis.

The transient article stories: “Citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place,” with a bleak quote attributed to a distinct particular person every time: “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them.”

This week, nonetheless, the web site went for the jugular. Normally, the piece seems as the web site’s lead story after an assault. But after the taking pictures at an elementary faculty in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 21, the Onion stuffed each slot on its homepage with totally different iterations of the story, making its level all the extra grim.

“This was a gut punch,” mentioned Chad Nackers, the Onion’s editor-in-chief. The indisputable fact that the elementary faculty violence occurred inside days of a mass taking pictures at a Buffalo grocery store, allegedly by a white supremacist, “hammered home the repetition of it for us”, he mentioned. That prompted the format resolution: editors sought to “emphasize this and show it in sort of a meta way”.

A portrait of Chad Nackers, the Onion’s editor-in-chief, a man with shoulder-length hair wearing a blue button-up shirt.
Chad Nackers, editor in chief of the Onion, mentioned the 26 May homepage format ‘was a gut punch’. Photograph: AP

The article first appeared in 2014, after the misogynistic Isla Vista killings in California, which left six folks lifeless. Now it has appeared 21 occasions. “I didn’t recognize the headline for what it would become,” says Jason Roeder, who wrote the authentic piece. “I was just exhausted by this country’s special station in the mass murder hierarchy and wanted to express that.”

The story serves as a potent instance of humor’s potential to lower by means of political and media-driven noise – an more and more difficult activity in a post-truth period when, as the creators of South Park mentioned in 2017, “satire has become reality”.

The Onion piece is “not a belly-laugh type joke”, Nackers says. Rather, it’s “kind of putting all the pieces together and exposing the truth”.

In conferences, the Onion’s editorial workers seems to make “what we feel like is a unique point,” Nackers says. “We’ve just done countless takes on mass shootings. So the ‘No way to prevent this’ felt like a very unique take that really hit the zeitgeist of everything that’s going on.”

And it has resonated. “The Onion completely nails it. [The article] resonates because they totally got it,” Dave Cullen, a journalist who has lengthy coated mass shootings, advised NPR in 2015. The article was fashionable, he mentioned, as a result of “we look for the people who tell us the truth … who see through the stuff, and don’t just print the same old stuff, or do the same old stuff, or do the safe stuff – the people who call us on our shit.”

On Twitter, readers welcomed the format. “The Onion just stopped being satire,” wrote one user after Senator Lindsey Graham instructed no legislation might have stopped the taking pictures. Responding to the Onion’s sequence of tweets that includes the piece, the author Jared Petty posted: “It’s necessary and poignant. It’s also gutting.”

Could that poignancy contribute to the real-world push for change? Roeder isn’t positive. “I am generally down on the real-world power of art,” he says. “Still, sometimes I wonder if it could take on some force, build some sort of gravity at a certain scale. It’s at 21 shootings, I think. What if it reaches 50? 100?”

Roeder is now not on workers at the Onion, however he discovered the format “really powerful, horrifyingly breathtaking”, he says. “I can’t believe this country has gotten to the point where the Onion could insert a variation of the headline in every single article slot.

“Actually, I can. I hate to say it, but I fear that headline will last as long as the Onion itself does.”

It in all probability gained’t change something, “because we Americans are addicted to the way guns make us feel,” Roeder provides. “But at least there’ll be an artifact of how many chances we let slip away.”

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