Has 'The Onion' sold its soul?
Viacom, if rumors are to be believed, is trying to corner the market in meta-journalism. It already owns The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Now whispers say it’s in the early stages of trying to acquire The Onion, the most trusted name in fake news.
Shadowy sources are saying the deal may never go through, but that hasn’t stopped everyone from flipping out about it. It’s not the worst idea in the world: They could purchase the site for a song and lay claim to a major beachhead of hipster humor, adding to a youth-skewing archipelago that already includes Comedy Central, VH1, and MTV.
But will The Onion be able to square its nimble comic abandon and common-sense anarchy with corporate oversight and contorted synergies? And will Viacom know what to do with material that would make MTV blanch like a menopausal Rotarian?
On this count, there are arguments in Viacom’s favor. Their names are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. South Park, especially, has managed to preserve its molotov volatility in the face of predictable, perhaps unavoidable corporate timidity. The question is: Do the editors of The Onion care to have those fights?
Does the prospect of a corporate Onion keep you up nights?
In a related note to my corporate parent, Time-Warner: Can I say &#%@*% yet? No? Okay, that’s cool.
[UPDATE: Oh, never mind. Apparently it’s totally not happening.]