‘The Onion’ takes a satirical jab at Charlotte

adunn@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 30, 2014 

In a city full of transplants, The Onion struck a nerve.

The satirical news site posted a piece this week with the headline, “Horrified Man Suddenly Realizes He’s Putting Down Roots In Charlotte.”

It goes like this: As a fictional man named Mark Collier steps off the Lynx light-rail train, he’s struck by the fact that, without really trying to, he’s grown comfortable with the city and will likely be here for life.

Instead of world travel or whatever his dreams may have been, the 31-year-old finds himself with a gym membership and jury duty at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.

Charlotte certainly fits the criteria to serve as the foil of the story. It’s common to hear stories of folks who come to Charlotte never thinking they’ll stay – who end up putting down roots.

And whoever wrote the story certainly had intimate knowledge of the Queen City. It’s replete with references to mainstays such as South End Super Flea and the annual Holiday Afternoon Tea event at the uptown Ritz-Carlton.

And, of course, the kicker: “All that being said, though, you gotta love Freedom Park in the springtime,” our protagonist admits. “Just gorgeous.”

A spokesman for The Onion, which is based in Chicago, said it doesn’t comment on individual articles.

The Charlotte story shared space Thursday with other Onion headlines such as: “Dad delivers rebuttal to State of the Union address directly into television screen,” and “Obama admits U.S. hasn’t been the same since Buddy Holly died.”

As for the Charlotte story, locals reacted online with reflexive defensiveness about their hometown, mixed with a sense that the satire rang true.

“Little do they know, but they profiled me,” one man wrote on Twitter. “Charlotte will sneak up and getcha! Happened to me too!” tweeted another.

All told, Charlotte Chamber president Bob Morgan said he thought the article was nice to the city.

“I think it very much is a compliment and, frankly, an affirmation of the numbers for the past couple years,” he said. In roughly the last half-decade, the number of Charlotteans between the ages of 20 and 39 grew by 17 percent, he said.

So did the Chamber somehow find a way, through The Onion, to promote Charlotte’s ability to grab a young person and not let go?

“No comment,” Morgan said with a laugh. “I would love to take credit for writing the article.”

Dunn: 704-358-5235; Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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