Is The Onion’s Clickhole A Failure?

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.46.33 PM

Admittedly, The Onion seemed to smash a home run when they decided to spoof the just reel-’em-in nature of Buzzfeed and its derivatives. They called the site Clickhole and a psychology experiment was born. The hypothesis: to test if people are dumb enough to follow a bunch of buzzy words just because they seem to pose a dynamic answer to life. The site started off strongly — a three hour video of a stick of butter doing nothing has over a million views, simply because it adds “You’ll Never Believe What Happens…” to the title. If every video could slurp up the views, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

But many (if not most) of Clickhole’s videos end up generating less than 10,000 views — especially recently. Considering that Clickhole is intentionally a sort of art project/sociological quandary, one wouldn’t think that views really matter. But in a meta twist of fate, can the site survive without them? With the financial support of the much stronger The Onion, the answer is an easy yes. So the real question becomes: how long should the joke last?

I stumbled onto this topic because someone who ought to know better showed me a Clickhole video called “Lesbians Explain Sim City 4 Cheat Codes.” The whole joke is that that’s really all it is: no sexy stuff, no red lipstick and high heel caresses, just everyday run-of-the-mill lesbians explaining a topic I couldn’t care less about. Including my patronage, the video has only 3,883 views … and it’s been up for over 72 hours.

If it was going to go viral, it would have gone by now. And therein lies the problem: if my compadre watches every video of theirs a million times, they’re in business. If he doesn’t, The Onion has a hipster joke on its hands that nobody cares enough to retell. And I don’t care who you are or how financially backed you are, if you’ve already chased away your core audience by being too avant garde, you can continue to be as smug as you like, but you’ve failed.


Share this so someone can inform us if we’re missing out on something profound.

Comments are closed.