Pop culture hidden in The Onion

A.V. Club sandwiches interviews, reviews of offbeat perfs


“Films That Time Forgot” is a Web feature that reviews bottom-shelf videos, and it’s only one poignant part of the Onion A.V. Club site, itself an off-shoot Web site of The Onion that is mostly overlooked by the irony-crazed hordes that descend on that humor site each day. Indeed, press coverage of The Onion rarely notes that this section exists, but it has been an official part of the publication since June 1993, and is a hidden jewel on the Web.

Despite, or perhaps thanks to, its place out of the spotlight, there are some fascinating profiles with long-time entertainment industry actors, writers, directors and musicians. It would be wrong to say the site profiles the B-List of the biz; rather, the club seems to focus on people who have chosen to spread their fame over 20 years instead of spending it all in one media flare-up. Douglas Adams, John Waters, Conan O’Brien, Elmore Leonard, Bob Barker, Pam Grier and Joss Whedon are just some of the people interviewed, a selection of which have been collected recently into a book entitled “The Tenacity of the Cockroach.”

As I mentioned above, the site also reviews copiously, offering short and pithy looks at movies, videos, new books and CDs, but not television, for reasons of space and time. All the Web site features are also in The Onion’s print companion.

There’s also a column called “justify your existence” that seems to distill the entire entertainment publicity engine into one question: “Why should anyone buy your record?” Answers are sometimes revealing.

Overall, the site suffers from a muted, black-and-white design that fails to fully reveal either the breadth of material collected or the colorful nature of these artists and their contributions to pop culture.

Got a site to share with me? Email tfsmith@reedbusiness.com

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