WTE: Funny or Not
Portfolio Exercise 5
Tom Coogan mentions the Onion article “Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest” in his work “Usually I love The Onion, but This Time You’ve Gone Too Far” and talks about the controversial nature of this article. Coogan explains that the article has received negative reactions from certain circles and points out Alex Lubet as a chief opponent of the article. According to Coogan, Lubet finds the Onion article about depression “appalling” and “ill-intended”. In other words, Lubet thinks that this article doesn’t have a “pro-disability rights intent” and doesn’t have the potential of helping people suffering from depression. Lubet believes that the article was written with bad intentions and from an outsider point of view. According to Lubet, the article was written by someone who isn’t fully aware of the realities of depression; however, Coogan refutes this presumption of Lubet by saying that one of the chief authors of the article Todd Hanson is someone who identifies himself with clinical depression. Therefore, the “outsider” criticism for the Onion article is effectively refuted by Coogan. However, the “ill intentions” part still remains upto debate.
I can easily say that I have personally found the article “Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest” offensive and significantly harmful to the society. However, the insider/outsider debate wasn’t a factor that I took into account during my criticism as I don’t think that the author’s identity makes much of a difference as long as the article’s main idea is the same. I can’t certainly say that the article was written with bad intentions as Lubet argues, but I can say that the overall article doesn’t successfully exercise a”pro-disability rights intent”. In my opinion, the article has the potential to do more harm than good to people experiencing depression, no matter what the intent of the authors are. Let’s imagine the best case scenario where the authors actually want to help out people suffering from depression, then this article is successful in the sense that it is provocative and throws unpleasant facts into people’s faces. This provocative nature might cause certain bullies to question themselves when they call someone a “loser” and make them aware that their bullying can have severe negative impacts on certain individuals. Moreover, the provocation in the article can lead certain depressed people to come to terms with their actual state and make them realize that they are in fact creating their own problems. Nevertheless, these two potential positive effects are only possible if the reader is somewhat intellectual with some common sense and self-awareness. However, what percent of bullies and people suffering from depression are actually self-aware, responsible, and insightful? Well, not the majority! Therefore, the article can benefit only a small portion of the society.
On the other hand, when we look at the negative aspects of the article, we can see that there are a lot of offensive phrases like “Losers are much more likely to internalize these emotions, as they are miserable little nothings, devoid of any value as people” which promote the infliction of self-harm. In fact this statement along with “Because they are so inherently inferior to regular people, many losers feel—quite correctly—that their lives are not worth living” almost persuades people who regard themselves as losers to commit suicide, as they have no value in life and their existence is unnecessary for the world according to the article’s “on-the surface” point of view. Indeed, most of the article talks about how worthless losers are; in fact, a pie chart with derogatory segments is presented to the audience. This chart explains why “losers” are depressed: it says that 16% have no life, 12% are hated by everyone, 44% are total fucking losers, and 28% can’t do anything right. All of these so-called explanations listed in the pie chart carry subliminal messages that significantly harm the psychological states of people suffering from depression and bullying. If an article’s intended audience also includes people experiencing psychological disorders, then word choice should be determined in an extremely careful manner: black and white statements, insults, and abusive remarks should be avoided. Furthermore, the article crosses the line way too much when it says “Nobody cares about them, they are alone, they can’t hold down a job, they have no money. Even their own families hate them. Life has passed them by. What’s the point in their even going on?”. This statement mirrors the mental state of a depressed individual, but this mirroring can be quite dangerous as it can reaffirm the delusional beliefs of people with depression. Overall, all the statements made in the article can further damage the psychology of individuals suffering from depression and can even make them think that suicide is a good way to end their suffering. Due to this fact, the Onion article isn’t only offensive but also poses a significant threat to the global society.
“Study: Depression Hits Losers Hardest.” The Onion 31.08. 5 March 1997. Web. 1 September 2010.
Coogan, Tom. “Usually I Love the Onion but This Time You’ve Gone Too Far.” Vol. 7, no. 1, 2013, pp. 1–17.