I’ve got a grudge against The Weekly World News.
We’re all used to it now, with it’s Bat Boy articles and it’s endless Elvis sightings. It’s a harmless. It makes you chuckle. You glance at while fighting the urge to grab a Kit Kat Chunky Bar in the supermarket checkout line…
Wow. Got real hungry all of a sudden.
Where was I?…
The Weekly World News. Those lying bastards.
You see, when I was 9, they sucked me in. They sucked me in hard.
I had just moved to Halifax from a small town in the Annapolis Valley. I wasn’t so much a hick as hick-esque. The worst swear word I knew was “dinky” (which always made me slightly uncomfortable to play with Hot Wheels, let me tell you).
One thing that was prominently burned into my brain was trust in the media. Newspapers told the news. News was stuff that happened. Stuff that was real. Newspapers didn’t lie.
So on this one fine day in the spring of ‘81, I headed on down to the convenience store in the apartment building we were living in, with a pocketful of change to spend on comics and candy. Oh, those halcyon days…
I plopped myself down in front of the magazine rack, where all of the comics were laid out in a nice little row at the bottom, ready to do some serious pondering. There were Teen Titans, Legion of Superheroes, Superboy. The choices were many and varied.
While perusing my choices, trying to determine which comics I needed to get right then, a phrase in black on white jumped out from the corner of my eye:
“EARTH TO BE DESTROYED IN 6 MONTHS! (cont’d pg. 6)”
I lunged at the paper, rifling through the pages until I arrived at the dreaded pg. 6. There I read, with increasing desperation and sorrow, that a “team” of “scientists” had discovered that the Earth would be destroyed in 6 months (I have no memory of what the described means of destruction were). However, humans would be spared as aliens would be arriving just before the cataclysm to take us off of the planet.
I sat back. Earth? Destroyed? This was not a good thing. I think the only thing that allowed me to retain my composure was the knowledge that I wouldn’t die as well, but would be rescued along with the rest of humanity by the aliens.
I processed this information and came to several conclusions:
- FACT: The publication was titled The Weekly World News.
- FACT: It was a newspaper. For the World.
- CONCLUSION: This was definitely going to happen.
- FACT: This was public knowledge.
- FACT: No one had told me anything about this.
- CONCLUSION: It was something that people just didn’t want to talk about.
This made sense to me, as constantly talking about it it would just make everyone sad and grumpy. I figured most people just wanted to go on with their lives and would probably not do anything until in around 5 months and 3 weeks had passed, and then they would probably start to pack.
So good little citizen that I was, I decided I better go along with the crowd.
The next 6 months were very odd. I was in a new city, trying to make new friends in a new school. My parents had just gotten divorced. The world was going to end. I wasn’t supposed to talk about it.
By not talking about it, surprising amounts of time would pass where I wouldn’t think about it, and things would be almost normal. But eventually, I’d remember the whole thing. And I still wouldn’t be able to talk about it.
Eventually, the six months came and went. And the world didn’t end.
And I was happy. Sort of.
But I was also hurt and suddenly very suspicious. It didn’t happen. The newspaper said the world would end and that aliens would be coming to talk us away. The newspaper wasn’t just wrong…
THE NEWSPAPER LIED.
So I have a grudge against The Weekly World News.
For making 6 months of my life just a little bit sadder.
And for taking away a little bit of trust.
I think I need that Kit Kat Chunky Bar now.