As Stephen Colbert or any great satirist will tell you, a key to satire is to always stay in character. In The Onion’s case, that “character” is an absurd, alternative world invented to comment on the real one. Every aspect of the fake world has to ring true for the trick to work. That includes the visuals. When nothing you publish is real, every single image has to be made from scratch. “We want to make sure that we’re making our Onion-world fully realized and very real,” says Ben Berkley, managing editor of The Onion. It’s all in service of the joke.
In order to justify opening up a copycat coffee shop that serves every Starbucks menu item with the word ‘dumb’ in front of it, Nathan Fielder had to demonstrate his history of corporate parody. Boy, did he deliver.
It’s visual whiplash. The soft lines and gentle colors lure you in, then—pow!—the subject matter hits you with unexpected force.
It may not keep you from getting pregnant, but at least you’ll get a few laughs watching the creation of this activist art project.