Travelog: Stuck at the Airport

I’m obsessed with these Onion News Network YouTube videos that were released in the late 2000s/early 2010s. All two or three minutes long, they pretty expertly ape cable news personalities while still infusing that biting Onion satire. There are more recent ones, and in fact they still make some video content today, but as internet news has become more prevalent, and that cable imitation less fashionable, the form of the videos has altered, and no longer features that same charm. 

Anyway, there’s one of these videos that strikes me in a “how did the Simpsons predict X ” kind of way (or perhaps just rubs me the wrong way as a satire that isn’t quite so funny as frustrating at the moment). From how many times I’ve seen it, I’ve almost memorized “Prague’s Kafka International Named Most Alienating Airport.” My Squid and the Whale-esque pseudo-pretentious streak mixed with a love of in-your-face absurdist sense of humor makes it worthy to me of constant rewatches. I even showed it to my partner, way too early in our relationship, and watched her react stonefacedly as I cackled awkwardly. 

I just rewatched the video again, at an airport for the second day in a row, having had my flight canceled and being unable to reach anyone with my airline or get my flight rebooked or figure out how to get my new hotel stay compensated, and, maybe I’m biased, but the video isn’t *that* funny, at least in the way it originally was.

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The Onion has been on the Internet for a long time — since 1996, actually. Before that, the famous fake news outlet began in print, but most of us within the demographic of 18-34 year olds only recognize it due to a significant online presence, featuring anything from satires of VICE magazine documentaries to articles with names like “Scientists Find Strong Link Between Male Virility, Wearing Mötley Crue Denim Jacket” and “Mom Leaks Out Another Divorce Detail During Drive to SAT Prep Class.” Unsurprisingly, a model so successful is bound to have its spin-offs, Cornell-related spin-offs included. And from the looks of it, the Onion does not show signs of slowing down. Its past few years as a company have been ones of expansion and growth, taking its momentum primarily, of course, from its flagship fake news website, but also from other clever concoctions such as ClickHole and StarWipe. But what is it about the Onion that seems to make it so popular?