Saturday, September 29, 2012

when a joke becomes serious seriously


the nytimes published this update on 9/28/12:
Last Update, 3:17 p.m. Apparently unaware of the unwritten rules of both ethical journalism and satire, an Iranian news agency published an edited copy of a report from The Onion on Friday, without crediting the original or acknowledging that it was fiction.
what this means is that fars news agency took onion's joke seriously. why do i stress joke?

because the reason fars falls for the onion's joke is not a joke. thus, the new york times' "seriously" explains:
The episode might also reflect how it is increasingly easy to come across information online that has been intentionally or accidentally denatured through copying as it is passed along from one site to another, or one social media user to another.
the issue is online information susceptible of becoming either natured or "denatured" (where natured rules out "denatured," or accident and/or misinformation).  

oddly, the new york times also "falls" when it quotes fars' onion quote (that is to say, the context of fars' taking the onion seriously plus the nytimes' "update").

unless information and misinformation are not as cleanly separate as the new york times make them appear. we need a hand from a serious joker, jacques derrida:
either the contextual difference changes everything because it determines what it determines from within: in this case, it can hardly be bracketed, even provisionally. or it leaves certain aspects intact, and this signifies that these aspects can always separate themselves from the allegedly "original" context in order to export or to graft themselves elsewhere while continuing to function in one way or another... (limited inc. p. 78, derrida's own italics)
let's interrogate the quoting sequence to try to get something out of it:

1- is the onion's quote really a joke? which is something the new york times problematically glosses over. it reads: "rural whites prefer ahmadinejad to obama," its subtext conveying  -between joke and serious- the likely stereotypical white-rural tea-party's truism, i.e., "anything is better than a N... as president").
2- is fars' quote serious? perhaps, but our reading, as presented by the nytimes, isn't. yet, as mere iterability, isn't fars' quote (merely by "seriously" quoting the onion's double entendre) putting us on? 
3- how about the nytimes' quoting of fars'? it's meant as a joke on fars', the latter's falling for the onion's "joke" presented as a "serious" instance of denaturing information. yet, surprisingly, the nytimes' ("serious") explanation becomes now a joke.
4- finally, is my own quoting 1-, 2- and 3- "serious" or "joke" or both? am i not "falling" as they fall, their brackets tottering a-la-dérive?

so, what's left?


Anonymous said...

seriously it's all a trip.


Daniella Lopez said...

Triff, you have travelled me down an interesting little derive! I had desire paths at several different point. For example, should I turn into this number 1? or go further down into a different neighborhood and turn into house number 3? Moreover, it really made me question how the hell to classify comedy, sarcasm, satire, when the satire is based on aupposed authority. The authority of the Onion as a comic, authority of the Iranian news as a news source, the authority of the nytimes as an educated informational network... woww

Alfredo Triff said...

thanks, daniella. always a pleasure to chat.

thanks, ec.

Anonymous said...

Triff good take. I keep following.

Michael said...

thanks, daniella. always a pleasure to chat. thanks, ec.