Cracked: Using Technology to Spread More than Jokes

Cracked: Using Technology to Spread More than Jokes

For a site that prides itself as”America’s Only Humor Site since 1958,” Cracked.com has been tackling some intense issues lately. This weekend’s “5 Things I Learned as a Sex Slave in Modern America” is speckled with some sardonic wit, but the topic – and the article – are deadly serious. It’s time to give Cracked another look.

As a concept, Cracked began as a Mad Magazine knock-off, but it’s grown a lot in the Internet age. While other publications – including Cracked’s thematic progenitor – have been struggling to stay afloat in the age of digital first, Cracked jumped the sinking ship of print media andtransitioned to online-only in 2007. It’s made a name for itself with original articles and video, and tons of (paid) reader-submitted content – the latter of which are approved and partially edited by fans on the Cracked forums, creating an interesting comedy-by-consensus feel.

This in and of itself is pretty novel, because while inaccuracies slip through the more obscure recesses of wikis all the time, here people are actively vetting each article before it goes public, so facts tend to be fairly reliable (ideally anyway, I’m still irked that one article claims Aquaman ripped off the Shark when Namor the Sub-Mariner appeared half-a-year before the Shark). When looking for anecdotes to share with my students, I often check through the Cracked archives to find inspirational or heart-warming stories. Who knew going to a comedy website for facts could be a good idea?

Back to the article, “5 Things I Learned as a Sex Slave in Modern America.” Here we have a very serious topic from an abuse victim called “Jane” seemingly filtered through ghostwriter Robert Evans‘ voice (obviously, he’s not a “ghostwriter” if we know he contributed, but the comparison stands for lack of a more accurate term). As disingenuous as this might sound, it takes a disturbing topic that many might not read and turns it into something more palatable. People often don’t want to hear bad news, but by dressing the topics up as “comedy,” or at least through the lens of comedy, people who might not otherwise learn about the darker parts of the world get their horizons expanded somewhat.

This has led to interesting articles about such diverse (and serious) topics as what it’s like to be a young soldier pressed into governorship of an Iraqi province, an amazing testimonial aboutwhat it’s like to be a child actor by Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda actress Mara Wilson, or even an insightful piece about how atheist and religious fundamentalists are perceived by others.

If you aren’t reading Cracked already, or if you’re skipping on some of the “unfunny” articles, you owe it to yourself to give it another shot.

This story was originally published on the Kinja blog of Kevin Garcia on Sept. 15th, 2014.
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