This is a tale of two Times.
On Tuesday, a parody of the New York Times Web site went viral after Slate magazine plugged it. “What the final edition of the @nytimes will look like,” the tweet read. Users were taken to “The Final Edition.” Letters in the masthead appeared to crumble off the page. The lead headline? “The New York Times, world’s newspaper of record, closes its doors forever.” It’s lead photo? A burning New York Times building. “Owners may have ‘torched’ building for insurance money,” a second headline reads.
Rather than finding the whole thing a playful poke at the state of media and the occasional condescension of the New York Times, I was struck by the crassness of it all.
The photograph immediately brought the image of the burning World Trade Center to mind. It’s not that I can’t stomach 9/11 humor. I just didn’t see the intellectual point.
And that’s the trouble with much of the site. It’s rich in visual quality and exacting in detail (see the final TimesCast as an example). But none of it really smacks of savvy parody on par with the Onion or the Daily Show, two great media mockers of note.
On Wednesday, though, a new site launched that hit a much higher tone: Galactic Empire Times. In a near word-for-word riff on the New York Times’ “bin Laden is Dead, Obama says,” article, the new site changes it to “Obi-Wan Kenobi is Dead, Vader says.”
Replete with a TimesCast of Storm Trooper reactions and Milestones of Obi-Wan Kenobi photographs, it not only gets all the details right, it addresses certain controversies surrounding the death of bin Laden in a smart, hilarious way.
“Why won't Lord Vader show us the body?!” reads the first comment.
“Why won't lord Vader show us HIS body?!” reads the next.
In 147 comments, everything from the burial to who deserves credit gets debated with a galacitc spin. Plus, making Darth Vader comparisons to Obama is an incredibly edgy, yet subtle questioning of the White House’s spin on the bin Laden story. The parody asks its readers to question the president’s position without a sensational or overwrought attack.
So, Final Edition can keep its snark. I’m sticking to the Galactic Empire Times. Anyway, it wasn’t much of a fight. I am a huge Star Wars geek, after all.