Tom Hanks’ Onion appeal

A funny man is supporting a funny paper.

Internet Culture

Published Jun 20, 2011   Updated Jun 3, 2021, 4:16 am CDT

A funny man is supporting a funny paper.

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Actor Tom Hanks has added his voice to that of Arianna Huffington, Gayle King and hundreds of others in a mock petition of the Pulitzer board on behalf of The Onion, a satirical newspaper and website.

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Supporters of The Onion—or possibly the newspaper itself—have formed the group Americans for Fairness in Awarding Journalism Prizes. They’ve also placed a petition on the site As of today, AFAJP’s petition is approaching a thousand signatures. In addition, AFAJP created a YouTube channel asking for supporters to upload their own videos in support.

This push to get The Onion a Pulitzer coincides with the satire newspaper’s 1,000th issue, as explained by “Stephen Forbeck,” the supposed head of AFAJP, in his YouTube address.

It’s another elite-tweaking move by the Onion, which delights in poking fun at established newspapers, whose stale conventions it satirizes in every headline.

But it’s not like the Onion has actually been unfairly shut out of the contest. Editorial cartoonists who win Pulitzers routinely get praised by judges for their satire. And unlike online-only news organizations which were shut out of the Pulitzers altogether until 2008, the Onion’s printed work has always been theoretically eligible. That’s the only part where the joke falls flat.

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So far, the AFAJP has approximately 20 videos of supporters uploaded onto their channel, from professors, small business owners, students and various netizens.

Like the fake newscasts of the Onion’s online-video spinoff, the Onion News Network, bombast reigns in the support videos.

In Huffington’s video, she threatens to change every link on the Huffington Post to the Columbia’s University’s journalism-program website, in order to “cripple it.” (She’s a bit off target: While Columbia administers the prize, a board awards it, not the journalism school.)

Said lawyer Ken Krimstein in his support video, “Modern society has been shaped by The Onion in much the same way the Enlightenment was shaped by the great thinkers of the day.”

Said Hanks in his video: “if our Onion does not receive this year’s [prize], I will search you down, each and every one of you who is responsible for this grave injustice.”

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Of course, this threat is coming from the former star of a show called Bosom Buddies.

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*First Published: Jun 20, 2011, 1:25 pm CDT