The satirical newspaper The Onion, once a college campus mainstay out of Madison, Wisconsin that in recent years has moved its headquarters to New York for a more national reach, has a habit of creating spoofs that are one step ahead of reality.
Last week, it ran a pretty funny piece on “Cooter Obama,” Obama’s embarrassing half-brother.
Cooter Obama welcomes his brother’s supporters with a jug of “white lightning” before whipping up a steaming vat of flat-possum stew.
Now, it’s being reported by the UK’s Telegraph that the Italian Vanity Fair has found a real — and probably embarrassing — half-brother. George Obama lives in a hut in Kenya, doesn’t seem to have an identifiable job, lives on a dollar a month, and describes himself as “good with his fists.”
Did Onion writers know something the rest of us didn’t? Probably not. Modern life can be so predictably ridiculous that satire is probably a more accurate forecaster than serious pundit divinations (think of the Mike Judge movie, Idiocracy).
Although in this case, the real half-brother might have taken the Onion by surprise, because the supposed comedy premise of “Cooter Obama” is that such a figure would be restricted to whites. Political correctness restrains us from imagining an embarrassing black or African half-brother.
The Onion was once more daring on racial issues, but its rise to prominence has tempered that. For instance, the fake columnist “Amber Richardson,” known for such declarations as “My baby don’t want no medicine,” was originally black. Now, “Amber Richardson” is depicted as a white woman with a bandana on her head. (Caution: Rough language.)
It’s not as funny.
The Onion’s still pretty funny (personal favorite headline: “New Crispy Snack Cracker to Ease Crushing Pain of Modern Life“), but one wonders if it would be funnier still if it were more willing to poke all of America’s sacred cows.
Christopher Donovan is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist.