Back to the Future
Does ‘The Onion’ Have a Secret Time Machine?
America’s finest news source has an uncanny ability to predict news, culture, and how many blades are going on your razor.
This week, retailer Overstock.com announced that it will launch streaming and video-on-demand services, pitting itself against Amazon’s streaming video service. Supposedly fictional news service The Onion mocked Overstock’s big move—back in 2013. “We’ve also greenlit a full season of a psychological thriller starring Tim Roth as a homicide detective in a small town in Tennessee,” the article reads, imagining the retailer’s foray into original content.
The Overstock.com “scoop” is only the most recent example in an ongoing series of eerily prescient Onion stories. For instance, a 2011 “SportsDome” segment documented a community (and a complacent news media) that rallied around a college sports star who was guilty of rape. The report painted the athlete as the true victim, fighting to overcome the indignity of being a rapist.
In 2011, The Onion staff “reported” that House Republicans were so badly afflicted by Obama Derangement Syndrome that they were rebelling against President Obama’s plan to defeat a killer asteroid headed for Earth. That sort of happened in the summer of 2013 when Congressional Republicans stalled Obama’s real-life plan to have NASA lasso an asteroid, place it in the moon’s orbit, and study it to find ways for deflecting other, potentially world-ending asteroids.
The Onion also predicted the Miley Cyrus VMA backlash. And they warned the nation about the coming rise of Joe the Plumber. In 2004, they even prophesied that Gillette would be batshit crazy enough to put five blades on a razor in a piece titled, “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades.” (This was three years before the real product was introduced.)
The Onion also predicted a future in which an Al Qaeda operative would get so fed up with 9/11 Truthers that he would engage one in a debate. That happened in late 2011. Here’s The Onion’s version from 2008:
But the biggest scoop Onion staffers ever landed was an article about President George W. Bush ushering in an era of war and recession. “Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years,” the piece reads.
That was published in January 2001.
The Onion did not respond to The Daily Beast’s multiple requests for comment regarding their apparent time traveling, thus only reinforcing our suspicions.