The Onion’s website recently featured a four-armed, blue-hued Vishnu incarnated as a serenely multitasking Indian call center operator. Thank Allah that Onion editors had enough sense not to exploit images of the prophet Muhammad instead to hawk its latest hardback collection of ironic misinformation.
But although there are no bombed embassies to speak of, the Onion ad has sparked controversy among Indian journalists.
“Instead of finding something that we could all laugh along with, the Onion seems content in giving us something sufficiently exotic that some of us can laugh at,” writes one commenter on the South Asian Journalists Association’s online forum.
“Perhaps some of us have gotten too comfortable here in the US to truly understand what is happening back home and instead respond with the cliche “offended minority” reaction,” writes another.
I asked Onion editorial manager Chet Clem if he received any death threats in response to the Vishnu house ad. His response:
“We receive complaints about almost everything we do. I’m sure we’ve gotten some in response to this ad. But our policy is that the reader should have no voice. We just let it be.”
Good thing they stayed away from Kali.