Meet the Man Who Wrote The Onion’s Famous ‘No Way To Prevent This’ Headline

When the heartbreaking news that 19 children and two teachers were killed at their school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, some people on social media grimly commented that it was once again time to publish The Headline.

‘No Way To Prevent This’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens was written in the days following the 2014 knife and shooting rampage that killed six and injured more than a dozen others, in Isla Vista, California, and has since been released 21 times, each following a mass shooting. On Wednesday, the onion‘s homepage included all of the earlier stories – almost identical except for the date lines marking the site of the slaughter and photos that accompany them – and linked all of the earlier pieces in a long twitter thread.

No way to prevent this,

Photo from The Onion’s homepage on Wednesday.

“It is always followed by unfathomable sadness. It’s the most terrifying fusion of ghastly and drab,” said the former Onion writer Jason Roederwho wrote the headline and the original story Rolling Stone On Wednesday. “My feelings can honestly be summed up as, ‘Here we go again.'”

Roeder, who worked for The Onion for six years and still freelances there occasionally, recalls jotting down the headline seconds before an afternoon pitch meeting and noting there wasn’t much draft or back-and-forth. “A lot of collaboration is often required [in creating an Onion headline], but not on this occasion,” he says. “I think this one went in as is.” He didn’t think it would have so much staying power all these years later.

“It’s usually gratifying when the headlines outlive you when you meet someone who is one Onion Is a fan and has one of your jokes on their list of favorites (especially if it’s a headline you didn’t think of everyone loved except you),” says Roeder. “But of course I wouldn’t put the headline in that category.

“I’d certainly like to be remembered for sillier headlines like ‘Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortion Complex’ or ‘Trojan Launches ‘No Man’s Pleasure’ Condoms for Bitter, Resentful Couples, But I Think I Know My Destiny,” he says.

Roeder still writes humor today. He lives in Los Angeles with “an overfed cat” and recently did a college catalog spoof called Corote with Mike Sacks Welcome to Woodmont, published by McSweeney’s, and another humor book coming out in the fall. But, he says of work, “mainly it’s the hustle and bustle of the TV crew.”

As for his legacy as the author of The Headline, Roeder says when he’s cynical, he thinks about how The onion History is part of the sad and morbid rituals surrounding the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States.

“I worry it’s just another part of the mass shooting ceremony — thoughts and prayers, don’t politicize, #GunControlNow and so on,” he says. “But I usually recognize the headline as a succinct indictment of a culture mesmerized by guns and labeling people dying for the felony of being a fourth grader or being in the freezer.”

“If it helps people channel their heartache, anger, and hopelessness,” he says, “it’s not so bad for 12 words.”

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/onion-mass-shootings-no-way-to-prevent-this-headline-1358539/ Meet the Man Who Wrote The Onion’s Famous ‘No Way To Prevent This’ Headline

Sarah Ridley

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