LeVar Burton clears up that pesky 'Onion' article


Speaking of that fine line between fact and fiction… Longtime host of the recently cancelled PBS show Reading Rainbow turned to Twitter to clear up a misunderstanding that was started by a new article — in the Onion! — supposedly written under his byline entitled “My Living Nightmare of Encouraging Kids to Read is Over.” Said article — in the Onion! — had “Burton,” among other things, comparing Rainbow to a “dank, forgotten POW camp.” Yesterday, Burton was compelled to tweet: “Attention all un-believers THE ONION is satirical parody of news events and meant to be enjoyed as such! No I did not write it! Relax, OK?” Which means of course enough people read the piece — in the Onion! — and were offended by it enough to share their feelings. Okay, time to ‘fess up. Who thought it was real? And who’s ever mistaken a piece in the Onion for the real deal?

Photo credit: Tina Gill/PR Photos

Comments (17 total) Add your comment
  • Mike

    Several years ago I had a very conservative, very religious friend send me the text of an Onion article (that had been forwarded to him) about how Harry Potter was teaching kindergartners to make demonic sacrifices. The email chain was going around in all seriousness – this is why these books are bad and we have to get them out of the classroom. Fortunately, they were sufficiently embarrassed when I did a “reply all” with a link to the Onion article and an explanation of satire.

    • jay

      I sent that same article to my mother and she thought it was real and started forwarding it to people.

  • fancypants

    That was a hilarious piece in The Onion! I’m sad I never watched RR as a kid. Will there still be reruns (which I’d still catch even though I’m 21)?

  • Via

    You never watched RR? Then you never had a childhood, jk
    OK, SERIOUSLY? I hope Showtime is backing up a Brinks truck to the EW offices b/c I can’t even see the homepage thanks to their ridiculously large ad. And no, I’ve never mistaken an Onion aricle as factual.

  • Lisa Simpson

    The Onion is hysterical, and I remember when the clueless people were sending around that article on JK Rowling and actually believing it. Go back in their archives to see their headline for the sinking of the Titanic.

  • jar

    I had the Onion article link as my gchat status message yesterday. My mom’s response to reading it (verbatim): “i just connected to the web site u had by your name that was uplifting. not.” I had to explain to her what the Onion was.

  • bob

    Ok I fell for one article in the onion the one where it said charlie sheen wanted to kick somebody’s @$$ for taking charliesheen@whereever.com I do still have to admit that I could see him wanting to kick somebody butt over something like that. :)

    • Nawaf

      I think it was Sean Penn.

      yeah… The Onion is awesome.

  • mscisluv

    EW posted an Onion article that was supposedly written by Meryl Streep, and many posters became irate and were calling Meryl all sorts of names. Dumb!

  • Abby

    Just goes to show you can never underestimate just how many stupid people there are in the world.

  • jeb

    I also believe a newspaper in China carried an Onion story once and in the correction didn’t apologize for using the story, but instead mentioned how there is a U.S. paper that prints lies.

  • Julie E.

    There was once a fake Stephen King column in The Onion called “I Don’t Even Remember Writing The Tommyknockers,” where “King” talked about how he had written so many books he couldn’t remember all of them, and if fans tried to talk to him about them, he had to fake it. It was hilarious.
    I had a friend who was a King fan and I left the article on her desk, never for a minute thinking she’d believe it was real. But she did and said it was “so disappointing” to hear that. I died laughing, and now she still gets annoyed whenever I bring up The Onion.

  • Mo

    “All I’ve done for 26 years is drive to work, clock in, read my lines, clock out, go home, and cry myself to sleep.”

    If you take out the part about reading lines, that pretty much sums up the last 26 years for me as well.

  • Paul, NJ

    I thought everything you read on the internet was true. You mean it’s not?!?

  • Yikes

    These widespread examples of the failure of critical thinking, or indeed, the failure to recognise blatant satire, is freaking terrifying to me! Supposedly, by age 13(pretty late!), a normal sentient human should be able to recognise and comprehend the concept of sarcasm and satire. I’ve never yet encountered anyone who actually was confused by an Onion article, but there’s one that I wish in my heart of hearts was true- the ‘Walken in L.A.’ piece in which ‘Christopher Walken’ expounds on his obsession with hot-dogs. It’s classic. Screw the bloody cowbell, I can’t watch Christopher Walken in ANYTHING without thinking of: “When we filmed The Dead Zone, I ate over 800 hot dogs a day. It was necessary. My character needed to come across as intense as possible, and I found the inspiration for that intensity in my intense love for hot dogs. The director, David Cronenberg, said that he would never work with me again. I kept eating hot dogs when the cameras were rolling, and that seemed to bother him. I say f*** him. He doesn’t even like hot dogs.

    I would like to end by emphasizing once again that I really like to eat hot dogs. If any of you people disagree, I loathe you. I despise you. Not only that, but I also despise all your loved ones. I want to see them torn to pieces by wild dogs. If I ever meet you in person, I’ll smash your brains in with a f***ing bat. Then we’ll see who doesn’t like hot dogs.”

  • Ed

    Have you ever had somebody who forwards you endless emails that any normal (have to rethink that group) human would recognize as total crap? Finally you get the initiative to look up counter-proof, or at least a link to Snopes, and when you send it to them, they reply that they don’t have time to look it all up.

    I wish you could send 3 stooges moves through email. BOINK!!!!! Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck. Woo Woo Woo Woo Woo.

  • Arsenio Billingham

    My favorite thing about the Onion is when I see headlines on my iGoogle page, and I think it’s a satirical article, but it turns out to be a “Man on the Street” article about something real. If you read the Onion, you know what I’m talking about.

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