Lampooning modern life: “Pottery Barn Catalogue Descriptions Written by an Aspiring Crime Novelist” and 20th Century History in Linkbait Headlines

Taking some time to laugh at our modern times is a necessary part of survival. So, two recent examples:

1. xkcd rewrites some major moments in the 20th century in the style of today’s Internet headlines. An example from 1912: “6 Titanic Survivors Who Should Have Died.” One of my first thoughts on reading these headlines: how long until we get history textbooks that follow this style?

2. McSweeney’s rewrites descriptions from a Pottery Barn catalog in the style of an aspiring crime novelist. An example:

The door to the Farmhouse Armoire stands slightly ajar, revealing room for a 60-inch television and something more sinister. Look closely at the Morgan Cachepot across the room, and you will see reflected in its gentle curves the silhouette of an escaped maniac hiding inside the wardrobe. Quick thinking and a rustic iron latch will hold the madman until the police arrive. The solid pine doors can withstand the pounding fists of a captive lunatic, but not ammonia-based cleansers.

This would make the Pottery Barn catalog a lot more interesting.

This is one redeeming quality of the Internet: the ability to harness and make accessible lots of examples of wit. If the Internet can’t rally to save Wikipedia or we can’t stop ourselves from obsessively interacting with smartphones and social media, at least we can chuckle a bit along the way. At the same time, it is odd that I came upon this humor through a chain of websites and others who selected it as worthy of their reader’s attention (or clicks). Why bother making light of my own circumstances when I can rely on others to provide a quick laugh?

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