Here's one irresistible website you won't believe that every person on Earth who likes kittens or bacon should see before they die. Or should they?
They should. The site, new from The Onion, is called Clickhole and, in its first hours Thursday, it's already a delectable parody of certain websites' transparent attempts to make you press the left button on your mouse, and then press it again and again until you realize it's noon and you've gotten absolutely nothing of value done.
We're looking at you, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and the scores of other quiz, photo gallery and listicle purveyors out there. (But we're only looking at you for the purposes of this article, not because we actually enjoy it.) "16 Pictures of Beyonce Where She's Not Sinking in Quicksand" is the first lead story on the site, crafted by the Chicago-based humor and popular-culture specialists. Sure enough, the photo gallery delivers on its promise. "8 Touching Pics of Celebrities and Their Dads" is actually a series of photos of celebrities with Patrick Stewart — so close enough.
The quizzes include "What's Your Sex IQ?" and, for Father’s Day, "Is Your Dad Proud of You?"
And under Videos, there's the potential classic, "You Won't Believe How Cheap This Stock Video of a Woman Sitting on a Swing Was."
And these are more than just headlines. When you do actually click on them, there's more payoff. "Could someone sliding into liquefied soil look this sassy?" asks the header above Beyonce-not-in-quicksand photo No. 13. "Not likely."
"Clickbait" is a difficult genre to parody because so much of it is already most of the way there. But the Onion's efforts, so far, are finely tuned: ridiculous enough to be funny, but not so absurd that they might keep a naive reader from taking them at face value. One test going forward — besides the obvious one of traffic and ads generated; Jack Link’s Beef Jerky is the first sponsor — will be how frequently this material gets treated as real by the rest of the Internet. And when that happens, people will not be able to say that Clickhole didn't warn them.
Explains the site: "We strive to make sure that all of our content panders to and misleads our readers just enough to make it go viral."