Literature / Our Dumb Century
Our Dumb Century
is a mock 20th-century retrospective by the writers of The Onion
. It consists of fake front pages whose look and feel parodies that of each era of the century, with headlines and articles making fun of news stories throughout the century.
This book provides examples of:
- Angry Black Man: "Malcolm X: 'I Also Have a Dream'
'I Have a Dream That One Day Little Black Children Will Beat the Living Crap out of Little White Children'
- Antiquated Linguistics: Utilized quite profusely in the earlier parts of the book.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: "Mussolini Becomes Italian Dictator After Closely Contested Fist-Fight"
- Banana Republic: "CIA Subdues Fruit-Hatted Peoples of Lesser Americas"
- Bank Toaster: During The Great Depression, Herbert Hoover introduces a Free Toaster Premium Initiative (bread not included) to boost confidence in the nation's banks.
- Blasphemous Boast: "John Lennon: 'I'm Higher Than Jesus Right Now'"
- Butt-Monkey: Richard Nixon is the most prominent one ("Should Nixon Be Brought Back to Kick Around Some More?", "Nixon Vetoes Federal Love and Happiness Act"), but Warren Harding doesn't even get articles, just two headlines: "Harding Elected, Forgotten About" and "President Harding Dies Several Months Ago"
- Candid Camera Prank: "Allen Funt Lets President In on Hilarious 'Cuban Missile Crisis' Prank"
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Holy Shit, Man Walks on Fucking Moon. Neil Armstrong's Historic First Words on Moon: 'Holy Living Fuck'"
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: The French surrender ten minutes after Nazi Germany invades. They do it again when Pearl Harbor is bombed, and AGAIN when the Americans drop a different kind of bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- Conspiracy Kitchen Sink / Who Shot JFK?: "Kennedy Slain by CIA, Mafia, Castro, LBJ, Teamsters, Freemasons"
- President shot 129 times from 43 different angles!
- Then all 70+ suspects were shot outside the courtroom by Jack Ruby, leaving the whole thing a mystery.
- A headline in the next issue is "Warren Commission Admits to Killing JFK".
- Creepy Crossdresser: "War Rationing Board Restricts Nylon Use to Armed Forces, J. Edgar Hoover Only"
Frilly Panties and Garters Especially Needed Now, FBI Director Says
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Betty Grable Appointed Head of U.S. Army Special Masturbation Fantasy Squadron"
"Actress Will Supply Badly Needed Jack-Off Fodder for Our Boys"
"Ordered to Visit Front, Display Rear"
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: The cultural attitudes of each era are parodied.
- Demonic Dummy: How Howdy Doody is written about
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: "Aristotle Onassis Killed by Lone Gunman in Athens Motorcade"
- The entire Watergate scandal, which instead plays out like the Gary Tison prison break, up to and including Nixon being gunned down by police outside of a Motel (Spiro Agnew still at large).
- Draco in Leather Pants: John Dillinger gets this treatment.
- Elvis Lives: "Elvis Dead; Is Elvis Alive?"
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Which gets Ralph Nader killed when test-driving one of the Trope Namers. He is memorialized with a sculpture of a Pinto with an eternal flame rising from its exploding engine.
- Expy: Little Orphan Maggie, an orphan girl acquired by T. Herman Zweibel.
- Felony Misdemeanor: Tax evasion is the only heinous crime Al Capone is even accused of.
- For the Evulz: Why Nagasaki was nuked, according to the article.
- Go Ye Heroes, Go and Die: "New President Assures Nation, 'The Only Thing We Have to Fear is a Crippling, Decade-Long Depression'".
"'All is Lost', says 32nd President in Address to Nation; America Doomed
- Have a Gay Old Time: "Earth-Quake Marks Least Gay Day in San Francisco History".
- "Garment District Still Flaming"
- Heaven Above: A spoof headline from the week after the airplane was invented is about the government planning airplane expeditions to Heaven. The story reveals that within ten years, it will be possible for the average American to vacation there.
- Heroic Bystander:"Japanese Zeroes Held Off by Boy with Dick Tracy Decoder Ring"
- I Love Nuclear Power: Deconstructed in "Boy Bitten by Radioactive Spider Dies of Leukemia."
- "GM Unveils Atom-Burning Jet Convertible At Futurama '55"
"Thousands of Would-Be Buyers Killed in Product Show"
- The Internet Is for Porn: "Computer-Industry Leaders Call For Creation Of Masturbation Superhighway"
- Karma Houdini: "Horrible Asshole Richer Than Ever"
- Nuke 'em: "Nagasaki Bombed 'Just for the Hell of It'"
- "US Army Finds Last Place on Earth Untouched by War, Blows It to Hell"
- "H-Bomb Test a Success! Eniwetok Atoll Islanders Return to Their Home, a Mile-Wide Crater on the Ocean Floor"
- "Reagan Nukes Libya"
- Oedipus Complex: "Eisenhower Warns of Military-Industrial-Oedipal Complex"
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Parodied; one of the news stories is about an Iowa family being attacked for having only white members.
- Poor Communication Kills: All of World War I was caused by Archduke Ferdinand picking a horrible time to do some King Incognito and not tell anybody.
- Rasputinian Death: "Russians Continuing To Kill Rasputin" details how he was not only repeatedly stabbed, shot, and poisoned, but also shot from a cannon, run over by a train, electrocuted, set on fire, buried alive, and chopped into tiny pieces, but still refused to die.
- Red Scare: "Senator Mc Carthy: 'I Hold in My Hand a List of 205 Liquor Stores'"
- "New Medical Report Finds Heavy Petting Linked to Communism"
- "Sinatra Warns Ruskies to Knock It Off"
- "Secret Pac-Man Patterns Fall Into Russian Hands"
- Real Dreams Are Weirder: "Martin Luther King: 'I Had a Really Weird Dream Last Night'"
- Running Gag: A number of major trials are referred to as the "Trial of the Century."
- There's also the running gag of cartoons featuring Lady Liberty being sexually assaulted by "The Wretched Spaniard", "The Hun", a Lounge Lizard, a "Capitalist Plutocrat Bastard" ("I've raped everything else in sight, why not you too, Sister?"), Benito Mussolini, Nikita Khrushchev, a dirty hippie, and an Arab terrorist.
- During World War II, the French kept surrendering.
- The Space Race: "Bleeping Two-Foot Tin Ball Threatens Free World; America Suffers Major Defeat in Space-Gizmo Race"
- "Outer Space Falls to Communists; Russian Man is First in Orbit"
- Subliminal Seduction: "Bing Crosby Record Reveals Secret Message When Played Backward: 'Have a Swell Day, Ladies and Gents'"
- Shoe Phone: "Alger Hiss Evades Capture with Secret Evapo-Spy Wristwatch; Rep. Nixon's Emergency Jet-Pack Ambush Fails"
- Shown Their Work: The newsprint style of each individual decade is painstakingly reproduced. There are also lots of period-accurate historical and literary references.
- Situational Sexuality: "Let's Work Together to Pretend Our War-Time Homosexual Experiences Never Happened"
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Nothing Going On In New Mexico"
"Top Physicists 'Just Camping' Say Army Intelligence Officials"
- Very Special Episode: "Nancy Reagan Ends Natioin's Drug Problem with Very Special Diff'rent Strokes Appearance"
"Youths, Addicts Learn They Can 'Just Say No'"
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: "World's Largest Metaphor Hits Iceberg"
- Worst News Judgment Ever: "Death of 500,000 Somalis Momentarily Distracts Nation from Dream Team Excitement"