Bullying | News | The Onion

'The Onion' Takes on Bullying in Saddest Satire Ever: VIDEO


Satirical media outlet The Onion takes on school bullying in a deadpan new article and video, but plenty of people are not laughing. In a piece called "Best Part Of Gay 12-Year-Old’s Day Half Hour Spent Eating Lunch Alone On Staircase", the paper writes of 'Franklin Middle School seventh-grader and closeted homosexual Ben McElroy's" solitary lunch hour:

McElroy, who sources reported has been called "faggot" on 43 separate occasions in the past month, confirmed his favorite lunch spot is strategically located on the exact opposite end of the building from both the gymnasium and the hall most frequented by the school's eighth-graders.

The 12-year-old also told reporters it "felt cool" knowing he had a little corner of the school largely to himself for a moment.

"It's good that the staircase is also near the band classroom, in case I need to run there for help," said McElroy, adding that the band teacher, Mrs. Maki, is nice to him and always smiles and says hello. "I used to try to sneak my lunch into the library, which I liked because I could read. But a librarian caught me and told me I wasn't allowed to bring food in there anymore, so I had to stop."

Watch the accompanying video, AFTER THE JUMP...

More article here.

A petition on Change.org objecting to the item has already popped up. No doubt there are those who will think this is an overreaction and people just aren't 'getting' the article. Would a bullied kid reading this article find hilariousness in his own situation? Do formerly bullied LGBT adults find humor in it? How 'bout the parents of a teen who killed himself? I didn't crack a smile. I'm usually a big fan of The Onion. Satire is best used to criticize or poke fun at stupidity or vices. Bullied teens fit into neither of those categories.

What do you think?

Gay 12-Year-Old: 'I Like Eating Lunch Here By Myself'

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  1. You're right: it wasn't funny.


    Posted by: Rich F. | Mar 9, 2012 8:18:05 AM

  2. I LOVED the video -- unlike other Onion videos, this one shows a true sense of satire, so much so you wouldn't know it was satire except that it is from the Onion.

    Bullying is a very dark side of human nature and this video shows that dark side and it is not funny. Very well done, Onion.

    Posted by: Mike in Asheville | Mar 9, 2012 8:21:41 AM

  3. I'm with Rich - I think. Satire doesn't have to be funny in order to be satirical. At no point during the article did its authors, in my opinion, cue the laugh track, as it were. What makes the Onion funny is a great sense of humor, but what makes the Onion BRILLIANT is that so many of its stories could very well be 100% true. This is one of them.

    But it's still satire, in that every other news service would, of course, focus on the worst part of a bullied kid's day. By focusing on the "best" part (and depicting that as a still very sad and isolating experience), they round out the story and more than any "real" news story I've ever read, show how tragic this epidemic really us.

    Thumbs up to the Onion, from one former gay kid.

    Posted by: Red Seven | Mar 9, 2012 8:25:28 AM

  4. Satire is often best tool for pointing out truths. There is so much truth in this. What if it's not supposed to be laugh-out-loud funny. I do see the very dark humor in it because I lived it. I don't think they meant this one to mock bullying as much as they mean it to mock the media's obsession with bullying and ineptitude at covering it. This is how it would be covered if reporters could get inside the head of a victim.
    Love it!

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 9, 2012 8:26:47 AM

  5. The worst part is that it's not Onion-worthy. They are usually better than this. It's risky to satirize crimes where a perceived-as-stronger person victimizes a perceived-as-weaker person. I bet there would be all kinds people offended if this was a rape satire.

    Posted by: Terry | Mar 9, 2012 8:28:54 AM

  6. Actually, as someone who was pushed around and called names in high school I think it's an excellent commentary. I think it should be fairly obvious that this would be called "black humor".

    Come to think of it, I would have loved to have found a quiet corner to have my much.

    Posted by: Daniel | Mar 9, 2012 8:35:30 AM

  7. Lunch :-P

    Posted by: Daniel | Mar 9, 2012 8:36:26 AM

  8. It's the Onion! Who takes it seriously?
    I think it does shine the light on how homophobia takes also on those who have better coping mechanisms or support systems than most bullied kids. the reality is that we all ate lunch alone for being queer, let alone gay, in schools and youth interaction and this shows how subtle it can be. No doubt that bruises and suicides are far louder cry for Help from our younger community we cannot ignore, but no one should belittle the feelings of a 12 yo to deny "IT" satire.
    It cannot be all extremes of either Gore or Glee in parodies and metaphors of our LGBT lives, I think we come in shades and shapes and had come a long way.
    Do I find it funny? No, neither do all the Onion's joke need to be to everybody all the time.

    Posted by: Fabrizio | Mar 9, 2012 8:36:27 AM

  9. Going to go ahead and suggest that this isn't something we're meant to laugh at as well. It isn't funny, and it clearly isn't meant to be, that's the entire point of it. Instead, it's using The Onion's unique, irreverent journalistic voice to touch on the heart of the matter in ways other news outlets are unable to. It's brilliant, really.

    Posted by: KLS | Mar 9, 2012 8:37:49 AM

  10. A satirical article in the Onion goes over someone's head and they file a petition at change.org. What else is new?

    Did they see the one with masculine costumes for feminine boys?


    Posted by: Hank | Mar 9, 2012 8:38:17 AM

  11. The poignancy behind it packs a wallop. Plenty of satire isn't funny at all, and I'll trot out good old Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" as example A. Nobody was supposed to laugh at that, they were supposed to be horrified by it. It held a fun-house mirror up to the brutality and savagery behind England's policies towards Ireland at the time.

    This also holds a mirror up to society: what kind of country have we created, where someone can say that the best time of their lives is when they get to creep into a corner and have nobody talk to them? People should be angry, that's right -- but not at The Onion.

    Posted by: NaughtyLola | Mar 9, 2012 8:46:34 AM

  12. Doesn't bother me at all. It's hardly even satire, though. It's life.

    And for an Onion articles, quite brief. They knew what they were doing.

    Posted by: Paul R | Mar 9, 2012 8:50:08 AM

  13. Great satire and great comments except for Terry... Not onion worthy? This is in my opinion the best piece that they have ever done. Selfishly speaking, this one is for our community and tells a powerful story. Could The Onion do a bit on rape from the victim’s point of view? Maybe this writer or writing team could but that is not the point, you are missing the point that this story is making and in your apples and hand-grenades analogy. In the midst of an otherwise intolerable time in this boy’s life, he has found a thread to cling to. There is a safe haven and even an escape (the band room and the kind teacher) route should his sanctuary become compromised. It moved me to tears. It should win a Pulitzer.

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 9, 2012 8:51:37 AM

  14. That was smart commentary by The Onion. Who wouldn't get the satire? I suppose the hyper-sensitive chip-on-the-shoulder folks may take a knee jerk reaction to it, but I thought the Onion did a great job shining a light on bullying.

    To each his own, I suppose.

    Posted by: Guest | Mar 9, 2012 8:59:31 AM

  15. I'm with the group here -- this is a brilliant piece of satire. Some of the most effective commentary makes us go "Ouch!" -- it's not all about laugh tracks. (Add to Jonathan Swift Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, and on and on.)

    So someone at Change.org thinks it's offensive. So what else is new?

    Posted by: Hunter | Mar 9, 2012 9:01:55 AM


    Posted by: normadesmond | Mar 9, 2012 9:02:25 AM

  17. This really hits a little too close to home. I used to spend my lunch time sneaking outside and hiding in the "fort" built as a playground for the younger kids. I also found the janitor's toilet behind the stage in the auditorium, which was where I'd go if I just couldn't hold it in any more, rather than risking the boy's bathroom. Unfortunately, I didn't have a save teacher to run to.

    Real life isn't always funny. I say good on the Onion.

    Posted by: fritzrth | Mar 9, 2012 9:04:26 AM

  18. It's brilliant because it's mostly straight up true, and very sad.

    "I didn't crack a smile." F*ck, I hope not. This is not the 3 Stooges.

    The appropriate response to the lame-brained petition is not "lighten up", it's "get serious". Not everything in the Onion is fluff, some of it is way more on point than anything you'll read in the paper.

    The Onion also was one of the few media to address the Michael Jackson circus intelligently.

    My vote for best ever here - time after time it never fails to break my heart:


    Posted by: MammaBear | Mar 9, 2012 9:13:34 AM

  19. Anyone who says that they usually love The Onion but " this is too far " is 100% full of baloney. So it's ok when The Onion writes satire making fun of blacks, other minorities, religions, etc... Or how about their old classic "American Troops Pull Out of Vietnamese Peasant Girl?" Did you proclaim an equal amount of concern over how Vietnamese rape victims felt? No? Didn't think so.

    One of the barriers to fixing the bullying problem is that people get so butthurt over every damn thing, no matter the intention. Here's a fact: people will often say things that offend you. Sometimes it's not them, it's YOUR misunderstanding. Learn to deal with it, because the last thing we need is ANOTHER person who gets offended at every stupid insignificant and innocent thing.

    Posted by: Jack | Mar 9, 2012 9:13:50 AM

  20. Oh my gosh, that was nearly a perfect characterization of my junior high years. I think the person(s) who wrote the article were also familiar with this type of situation, and I imagine it is a situation that plays itself out in hundreds of junior highs and high schools across the country every day (in some form or fashion). It's honestly probably the closest thing to actual reporting I've read from the Onion. It's a fantastic article, satire or not, and I think it should be widely read, for it epitomizes life as young gay in a hostile environment.

    Posted by: E | Mar 9, 2012 9:14:19 AM

  21. I'm glad to see so many people defend the significance of satire as a response to the worst the contemporary world offers. This offers a picture of a bullied teen's life in a way that might just get across to someone, just as Jonathan Swift provided a real moral context for a thoughtless devastation of Ireland. In the past few weeks, we've been subjected to such crazy, horrifying proposals to assault women in the guise of health care that the only way to explain what they really propose is satire. Yes, it's true no man who's ever been raped is going to find the idea that men should be forcible anally probed before they can have sex with a fertile woman. But it might give some people some idea of what they propose or tolerate having done to women by legal means--and it seems that in that case, that ind of satire may actually be changing minds.

    Posted by: coolbear | Mar 9, 2012 9:21:02 AM

  22. I think it's one of their best pieces, actually. They're not making fun of *him* but the *situation he's forced to be in*, which is well deserving of ridicule. This is wry humor, and I hope it gets more people thinking.

    Posted by: mark zero | Mar 9, 2012 9:21:40 AM

  23. Count me in as one of those who thinks this is BRILLIANT. This pretty much sums up my high school existence, taking my lunch in the library where I felt safe. This wasn't meant to be funny, it was meant to punch you in the stomach, very effective.

    Posted by: BEAHBEAH | Mar 9, 2012 9:23:48 AM

  24. I have to agree with the majority of comments. As someone who was routinely harassed in school -- in Saginaw even -- I was ready to be offended but I wasn't in the least. The piece really gets to the heart of how bullying impacts children. Great work.

    Posted by: M | Mar 9, 2012 9:33:02 AM

  25. @Mammabear, the flag article made me cry. It just brought me right back to that day.

    Posted by: NaughtyLola | Mar 9, 2012 9:33:54 AM

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