Boston, According to The Onion
The Museum of Fine Arts, the latest Boston-based subject of The Onion’s satire, got into an exchange with the fake news source on Monday. The MFA responded to a story headlined “Shitty Museum Doesn’t Even Have A Mona Lisa,” which began:
Sighing in exasperation as he walked out of yet another exhibit, appalled tourist Tom Bellarico confirmed to reporters Monday that the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is so irredeemably shitty that it does not even have a Mona Lisa. “This is only the most famous painting in history, for crying out loud. How does this place even call itself a museum?”
The MFA was good natured, probably because the real targets here are dumb, uncultured tourists, not the MFA itself. The museum took it as a promotional opportunity, responding on Twitter:
— Museum of Fine Arts (@mfaboston) June 10, 2014
We should learn well from the MFA because this wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last, instance that the Onion has taken us as their target. The site even has an encyclopedia entry on the city of Boston, which is, uh, uncharitable. It begins:
Boston, large northeastern American city of 650,000 people, each of whom, regardless of class or socioeconomic status, is a humongous asshole,
And it only gets worse from there. In general, Boston according to The Onion is a pretty familiar stereotype. Some of their favorite reasons to mock us include:
- We are a violent culture of heavy drinkers. (See: “Boston Mayor Throws Out First Punch At St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”)
- We’re a little too into our New England weather. (See: “Mr. Autumn Man Walking Down Street With Cup Of Coffee, Wearing Sweater Over Plaid Collared Shirt.”)
- Our sports fans are obnoxious. (See, “Chicago Blackhawks Relatively Silence Boston Fans” and “Red Sox Fan Dedicates Garbage Can He’s Lighting On Fire To Marathon Victims.”)
- Speaking of the Marathon bombing, The Onion was particularly enthused with the use of sports to heal the city. (See: “Man Rooting For Boston Bruins Because Of The Terrorism Thing” and “Sports Journalist Told To Write Some Slop About Baseball Healing Boston” and “Wolf Blitzer Decks Boston Man Who Hasn’t Been Healed By Red Sox Baseball“.)
The worst thing one can do on these frequent occasions is take undue offense. You can try, but you’ll probably end up looking like The Onion’s version of Wolf Blitzer. Boston has not been particularly great at keeping a level head. Some of us responded last year’s article “Pretty Cute Watching Boston Residents Play Daily Game Of ‘Big City’” with outrage, long meditations on why people are so mean to us, and awkward attempts to outfunny them. The article’s original joke was merely “playing into the whole Boston inferiority complex thing,” The Onion’s head writer told Boston magazine last year, and our thin-skinned response only served to prove a point.
So cheers to the MFA for realizing that, while The Onion may think we’re all a-holes, they’re not always mocking us. Sometimes the best response is just self-promotion.