Here’s a story I wrote worth mentioning, for the hard-to-link Ojai Quarterly about thirty-one year-old Dan Mirk, who went from starring in local school musicals in little Ojai to writing for The Onion in New York City.
So! Here you go:
In 2008, Mirk and his colleagues at Onion News Tonight – the video broadcast associated with the hugely popular website — included one of their realistic-looking fake news segments focusing on a then fresh-faced Miley Cyrus of Disney’s “Hannah Montana.” In the segment an announcer warned in a loud, serious voice that “at current usage rates, Miley Cyrus will be drained dry of entertainment value by 2013.”
The very funny fake video included an interview with an “Entertainment Scientist” explaining with complete and total certainty that “tween” entertainment stars could be drilled for entertainment value for about six years, before reaching an ‘Is She Too Wild?” stage that proclaimed the doom of her career and the end of all civilization as we know it.
And in fact, in 2013, the former teen star 2013 Miley Cyrus, who had by then dropped her wholesome Disney persona, infamously appeared at the Video Music Awards in a shiny-but-skimpy outfit while singing “Blurred Lines,” posing suggestively, and twerking vigorously in the vicinity of Justin Timberlake.
The next morning, in a segment of “Showbiz Tonight,” entertainment broadcasters mulled over the exact question that Mirk and company had posed in The Onion and asked the inevitable follow-up: Did it come true? Had in fact the entertainment resource Miley Cyrus gone wild and been drained of all value? The news broadcaster asked two entertainment experts this question with all the seriousness the fluffy show would allow. They concluded that Cyrus would survive her “twerknado.”
“We were prescient that way at times,” Mirk said, “but it was always a mix for me when it happened. It was exciting, but also sad because we were making a preposterous joke, and to see it actually come true – oh boy. We don’t really want the world to become more like The Onion, because The Onion is very dark place.”
Note that the satire came out of Mirk and his colleagues admiration for the young entertainer Cyrus, and their underlying (and well-hidden) unhappiness with the exploitation of her for the sake of cynical amusement. And isn’t that the nature of satire? To hide feeling behind a caustic realism?
Here’s Dan — an admirable and incredibly hard-working young man.