Cracked: The Voice of a Generation
This is the first in a series of websites that have influenced me as a writer and artist. It is not a paid endorsement of Cracked, but a recommendation to my readers based on my own subjective taste.
I enjoyed Mad Magazine as a kid, even if some of the more mature jokes went over my head. But once or twice, I remember reading a magazine called Cracked. Even at a young age, I could tell it was an obvious ripoff of Mad. Sure it had some funny gags, but for the most part, it felt like the Walmart-brand blue jeans you had to wear when your family was too poor to afford the name brand. Never in a million years did I imagine that Cracked would turn into one of the leading publications of my generation.
Today, Cracked.com serves up humorous lists on everything from comic books to science to important life skills. Amongst my peers (young professionals on the cusp of Generations X and Y), it’s often referenced in conversation and linked in social media. And as a writer, I have been heavily influenced by Cracked’s mix of fact and comedy.
Pointless Waste of Time
As I said, up until 2007, Cracked was a Mad Magazine knockoff. That year the magazine went out of business, and the brand name merged with a website called Pointless Waste of Time (PWoT). The resulting website was anything but a waste of time. Instead of sticking with the broad parody and humor of the original Cracked, the PWoT editors transformed it into something more intellectual. Or dare I say, educational? As a trivia geek, I actually learn interesting facts from the site. (It helps that the site links to its sources, something that a print magazine just can’t do.)
Funny Photoshops and Serious Issues
My favorite features on Cracked include the Photoplasty contests. Cracked readers can submit Photoshopped monstrosities based on themes such as “What The World Would Look Like If The Other Side Won The War”. and informative lists like “6 Ridiculous Myths About the Middle Ages Everyone Believes”. But my favorite feature on the site is the weekly column by John Cheese. John Cheese can write some funny and silly articles, but his best work deals with dark issues like poverty and addiction, such as “The 5 Stupidest Habits You Develop Growing Up Poor”. It’s these type of poignant-but-vulgar articles that give Cracked such a sway over an entire generation. If you’re not reading the site on a regular basis, I suggest you start. And if you are a regular reader, what’s your favorite feature? Let me know in the comment section.