Satirist Andy Borowitz joked in a recent New Yorker column that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s recent purchase of the Washington Post was a “gigantic mix-up.” In his mock news story, Borowitz wrote, “Mr. Bezos said he had been oblivious to his online shopping error until earlier today, when he saw an unusual charge for two hundred and fifty million dollars on his American Express statement. … According to Mr. Bezos, ‘I keep telling them, I don’t know how it got in my cart. I don’t want it. It’s like they’re making it impossible to return it.’”
Get it? Because Bezos started Amazon? And online shopping can be frustrating sometimes? LOL. LMAO. He-he.
Well, not everyone picked up on the sly humor, and by “not everyone,” I mean Chinese media. The country’s state-owned newspapers re-printed the story as actual news. It’s not the first time that China’s news outlets have failed to interpret American satire. In April, a Chinese outlet was duped by Borowitz’s story that a North Korean missile test was postponed by a Windows 8 glitch. (“A source close to the North Korean regime reported that Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un is furious about the Windows 8 problems and is considering a number of options, including declaring war on Microsoft,” Borowitz wrote.) Last November, Chinese media earnestly reported that Kim Jong-Un was named The Onion’s Sexiest Man Alive, with one website going so far as to build a 55-page photo gallery of the North Korean leader.
In each case, the joke might seem to be on some low-level editor at a Chinese paper or website. But perhaps we shouldn’t laugh too hard or too long: Apparently there are some people in China who think so little of Americans that one of our biggest entrepreneurs could make a $250 million search-and-click error, and that our paragon of masculinity is a pudgy dictator who pals around with Dennis Rodman. Maybe we should be a little insulted instead of amused.