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Old 04-21-2004, 05:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The Onion mocks Weird Al over his parent's death

Good morning.

I am not easily offended, and I understand (unlike Shin Wa news) that the Onion is a humor site. Today (4/21/2004) the Onion ran the following as their final News in Brief segment:

Quote:
<b>Weird Al Honors Parents' Memory With 'Tears In Heaven' Parody</b>
FALLBROOK, CA—Zany, mourning entertainer "Weird Al" Yankovic has parodied Eric Clapton's eulogy song "Tears In Heaven" in loving tribute to his parents, who recently died of carbon-monoxide poisoning in their San Diego home, a spokesman for Yankovic said Monday. "Al's hurting deeply right now, and this is his way of honoring Nick and Mary," Karl Tuft said of the song in which a subdued Yankovic sings, "First you lit some flames / Then the smoke stopped your breathin' / Carbon mono's th'way you went... / Up to heaven" over a somber, minor-key accordion melody. Tuft added that the best way for Yankovic to give voice to his pain and loss was by altering the voice of Clapton's pain and loss.
I expect occasional bad taste from the Onion, or any humor outlet, but this is just unnecessarily hurtful. Al's (so far as I can tell) one of the good guys, and there is no rhyme or reason in salting his recent wound like this.

urge each of you to contact theOnion at infomat@theonion.com and let them know that this was despicable and
unnecessary.

Here's the text of the letter I sent them:

Quote:
Folks,

I appreciate that in pursuit of humor, you are going to push the bounds of propriety and good taste. I expect that and I can live with it. I understand that you are going to pillory public figures for their least little slip (often to good effect), and that your stock in trade spans any irony your writers can wrap their minds around.

That said, the News in Brief item in your 4/21/2004 edition, "Weird Al Honors Parents' Memory With 'Tears In Heaven' Parody", is grotesquely inappropriate. While I recognize that your writer has attempted to combine Weird Al's talent for parody with the penchant of certain popular artists to make a buck off a tragedy - yes there is irony there, the payoff is tiny and the offense great. Your job is to be funny, and so is his. You both take it (here's some irony for you) seriously, and, therefore, as much as you or your writers would listen to Weird Al's songs to spot useful ideas, he will likely read this. It's disgusting. We're not talking about "Area Man's Mother and Father" here, these are real people with real feelings, and they're really dead and Al is, understandably, really sad about it. It's impolite, tasteless, mean-spirited, and well beneath the quality I would expect from your publication.

You owe Al an apology big-time.

Sincerely,
JT Thomas
If you agree with me on this, I really wish you'd let the Onion know about it, and let your friends know about it too.

Mods: If this qualifys as spam, my apologies and feel free to delete. This has me angry enough that I had to do something about it, though.
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Old 04-21-2004, 06:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I agree - pretty tasteless. How awful to lose both of your parents in such a tragic and senseless way? But for people to find humor in it is even more tragic.
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Old 04-21-2004, 06:39 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I can understand why you're offended, but its just too funny and impersonal for me to really care that much. It's one of those jokes you know you shouldn't laugh at, but its just so damn funny.
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Old 04-21-2004, 06:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by The_wall
I can understand why you're offended, but its just too funny and impersonal for me to really care that much. It's one of those jokes you know you shouldn't laugh at, but its just so damn funny.

we'll remember to guffaw when your parents kick off.
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Old 04-21-2004, 06:47 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Actually, I think that was pretty clever. They probably should have left out the "actual lyrics", as they are pretty stupid. But, the core idea ("Tuft added that the best way for Yankovic to give voice to his pain and loss was by altering the voice of Clapton's pain and loss") is classic Onion.

I'm saddened for Al, and I'm a huge fan of his (I even own Carnival of the Animals), but this doesn't seem over the edge to me.
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Old 04-21-2004, 06:53 AM   #6 (permalink)
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This one crossed the line for me too. Not necessary.
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by phredgreen
we'll remember to guffaw when your parents kick off.

Well if you must, I honestly don't think I would care that much. I didn't even shed a tear at any of my grandparents funerals, I personally think this country mourns the dead too much.
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:27 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'll be counted with those that feel that some things should be off limits and left alone. I believe that it was tasetless, and over the edge. I'm a fan of The Onion, but this has even me, and my sardonic sense of humor, raising a bushy eyebrow.
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I like the onion but that was tasteless and unfunny.
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:43 AM   #10 (permalink)
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The lyrics are certainly more offensive than the joke itself. Ask yourself, if a joke like this would've been made about a less popular celebrity in a similar situation, would you be as offended ? Probably not.
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Old 04-21-2004, 07:58 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Honestly I think that this was a very solid tribute to Weird Al. I don't think the intention was to be mean spirited.

The concept of the joke is funny. I agree, though, that the actual lyrics are lame.
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Old 04-21-2004, 08:05 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I'll bet if Al ever reads this, he gets a little chuckle out of it.
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Old 04-21-2004, 08:46 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't the article saying that AL is the one who wrote it in loving memory of his parents? I could see that Al would make such a tribute because he has used humor so many other times to lighten up a situation. If he did write it, which it looks like he did, then why are you so bothered by it? If it was another person claiming that Al wrote it but didn't, then I agree, it is bad taste.

Want to hear something really weird? As I write this, Eric Clapton's "Tear's in Heaven" is playing on the radio. Creepy....
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Old 04-21-2004, 09:04 AM   #14 (permalink)
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water_boy: it's called satire. They're spoof-articles that the onion writes

and I agree, somehow it's a tribute to Weird Al, so the idea was good, the endresult less so
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Old 04-21-2004, 09:25 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It's all in how you view life, i suppose.

If life's a precious and wonderful thing, with death being a big bag terrible thing that we should weap and wail over, feel bad about and fear, then the joke is beyond the pail.

If not then it's pretty funny.

You can take a guess as to where i stand. Even on the subject of my own parents deaths, or even my own.

I have cancer. I joke about it myself, as do those around me.

Humour at it's best is about release.
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Old 04-21-2004, 09:37 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nisses
water_boy: it's called satire. They're spoof-articles that the onion writes

and I agree, somehow it's a tribute to Weird Al, so the idea was good, the endresult less so
Thanks Nisses, I wouldn't know satire if it bit me in the ass.

Actually, I question this because the Onion doesn't just print satirical stories. It also prints stories of the odd, strange, and slightly unusual. Being that Weird Al is slightly unusual, I don't know if this is satire or just printing as usual.
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Old 04-21-2004, 09:41 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Folks,

I appreciate that in pursuit of humor, you are going to push the bounds of propriety and good taste. I expect that and I can live with it. I understand that you are going to pillory public figures for their least little slip (often to good effect), and that your stock in trade spans any irony your writers can wrap their minds around.

That said, the News in Brief item in your 4/21/2004 edition, "Weird Al Honors Parents' Memory With 'Tears In Heaven' Parody", is grotesquely inappropriate. While I recognize that your writer has attempted to combine Weird Al's talent for parody with the penchant of certain popular artists to make a buck off a tragedy - yes there is irony there, the payoff is tiny and the offense great. Your job is to be funny, and so is his. You both take it (here's some irony for you) seriously, and, therefore, as much as you or your writers would listen to Weird Al's songs to spot useful ideas, he will likely read this. It's disgusting. We're not talking about "Area Man's Mother and Father" here, these are real people with real feelings, and they're really dead and Al is, understandably, really sad about it. It's impolite, tasteless, mean-spirited, and well beneath the quality I would expect from your publication.

You owe Al an apology big-time.

Sincerely,
JT Thomas
Jonathon Taylor Thomas?!
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Old 04-21-2004, 09:59 AM   #18 (permalink)
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The Onion "pushes the envelope" and quite successfully usually. They just pushed a little too far coming up with the tasteless lyrics. Leave them out, and the article would have been fine.
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Old 04-21-2004, 10:10 AM   #19 (permalink)
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nothing. not even a chuckle from me.
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Old 04-21-2004, 11:02 AM   #20 (permalink)
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I don't think the article was mean spirited and is somewhat clever. Weird Al uses other people's works to express his feelings and ideas, usually only the odd-ball ones and not too deep ones, but that is sort of the point of the joke. I do not think the article itself is very offensive and in my opinion stays within the limits of good taste. They aren't posting this at their funeral, this is a satirical site viewed by people looking for a little dark humor. Yes Weird Al must be hurting right now, but I think he would be one of the first to try to find a little bit to smile about in a dark time. I am not saying he would fully appreciate the article, but I don't think he would find it fully offensive either.

While I appreciate your concern tophat, I don't agree with your conclusion that it is mean spirited and grossly offensive.
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Old 04-21-2004, 11:16 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I don't understand the concept that if you personally disagree with something, you are obligated to do battle and stamp it out.

If you didn't like it (I didn't), then just turn away from it.
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Old 04-21-2004, 12:46 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I didn't feel it was all that funny, but I don't find it so outrageously offensive that I'd want its removal.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:01 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by water_boy1999
Actually, I question this because the Onion doesn't just print satirical stories. It also prints stories of the odd, strange, and slightly unusual.
No, they don't. 100% satire.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I also agree that the Onion went a little too far this time. I don't see a tragic situation as being the subject of a joke.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:15 PM   #25 (permalink)
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The article was hardly the Onion at its finest, but I don't feel that they crossed any major taboo here.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:16 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Its hard for satire to stay the right side of the line sometimes, personally I think that that is a bit much.
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:21 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by water_boy1999
Actually, I question this because the Onion doesn't just print satirical stories. It also prints stories of the odd, strange, and slightly unusual. Being that Weird Al is slightly unusual, I don't know if this is satire or just printing as usual.
Quote:
Originally posted by irseg
No, they don't. 100% satire.
Not entirely true... anything in The Onion A.V. Club is legitimate. Including an interview with Weird Al. I can't find it on their site, and links to Googlecache don't seem to work right, but it's the first hit here:
Google Search: onion a.v. weird al
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:31 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by CSflim
The article was hardly the Onion at its finest, but I don't feel that they crossed any major taboo here.
Me neither. I guess it has to do with everyone's opinion on Weird Al...I find it offensive that he takes artists' music and butchers it with his idiotic lyrics, so The Onion editors might be saying something about this. The quote mentions a lot about him replacing the lyrics to good songs with stupid ones if ya look deep enough.

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Old 04-21-2004, 11:56 PM   #29 (permalink)
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it's one thing to egg on people for stupid stuff they've done, how they dress or act in front of people .. but it really is another to make fun of someone dying, especially your parents. i get really protective when it comes to my family, even though i can't stand them a lot of the time.
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Old 04-22-2004, 12:21 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charlatan
Honestly I think that this was a very solid tribute to Weird Al. I don't think the intention was to be mean spirited.

The concept of the joke is funny. I agree, though, that the actual lyrics are lame.
I agree, of the people most likely to enjoy this for what it is, it'd have to be Wierd Al.

I don't quite get why people get offended for other people--seems they can get offended good enough by themselves.
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Old 04-22-2004, 05:08 AM   #31 (permalink)
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In fairness, you can't have it both ways here. You can't say this is off limits but Michael Jackson's alleged child molestation is fine, for example. Satire is satire, and sometimes satire kicks you where it hurts. So it goes.
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Old 04-22-2004, 09:23 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jack Ruby
The lyrics are certainly more offensive than the joke itself. Ask yourself, if a joke like this would've been made about a less popular celebrity in a similar situation, would you be as offended ? Probably not.
Good point, and I have to agree with you, sadly enough.
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