Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Taking the Bait

Don't make the mistake of mirror-imaging our enemies. I figured The Onion was fishing for North Korea with this story. They got China, instead:

The online version of China’s Communist Party newspaper has hailed a report by The Onion naming North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as the “Sexiest Man Alive” — not realizing it is satire.

The People’s Daily on Tuesday ran a 55-page photo spread on its website in a tribute to the round-faced leader, under the headline “North Korea’s top leader named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.”

Whenever you hear about how China wouldn't do this or that because it wouldn't be in their interest, remember the caveat that they wouldn't do this or that if Westerners were making the decision.

The Chinese party paper staff's inability to see this man-of-the-year story as a spoof is as clear an illustration that they have different frames of reference for making decisions as any think tank report.

Heck, it may even have made it through layers of fact checkers.

It is difficult for those of us in the West to really say what the Chinese would or would not do. I won't say I'm even remotely immune to this tendency. But I am aware that it is a potential pitfall. People really can believe the craziest stuff.

UPDATE: The Onion stuffed and mounted their trophy on the wall:

UPDATE: For more coverage on The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive 2012, Kim Jong-Un, please visit our friends at the People's Daily in China, a proud Communist subsidiary of The Onion, Inc. Exemplary reportage, comrades.

Of course, what is really shocking are the fawning stories that aren't parodies.