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Onion's 'Shawn Johnson dead' video causing a stir

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The Onion -- harbinger of fake news and a staple in the messenger bags of hipsters everywhere -- has released a video on its Web site that's causing quite an internet stir. Judging by the title, "Gymnast Shawn Johnson Put To Sleep After Breaking Leg," it's clear why it's quickly becoming viral.

Although Johnson, who finished first in ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," declined to comment through her publicist, at least one of her former gym mates talked to the Olympian's hometown newspaper, the Des Moines Register:

Geena Pilcher, a former gym mate of Shawn Johnson and a soon-to-be-junior at Johnston High School, was not amused by the video.

"It's sort of rude; it's just over the top," said Pilcher, who competed in gymnastics with Johnson for five years.

Has the Onion gone too far this time? Watch the video and tell us what you think:  
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is that not her parents in the video?

Kyle, I assure you. I know her parents personally and the people in the video are her parents. I don't understand how they can make fun of her in such a disgusting way. But they've also like to have a huge laugh on their daughter's expense. is a satirical site. It makes fun of everyone, for one reason or another.

If anyone watched the video, you'll see the video is making fun of horse euthanization not Shawn Johnson.

Great job Onion!, those are not her real parents. Good grief!


No, Shawn Johnson is very much alive, the Onion makes up fake news to satirize real events. However this time they went too far, and I think it could be misinterpreted as meaning that Shawn Johnson is only useful as a person when she can compete in competitions, much like racehorses that are used to win races and then put on a ranch to graze when they're older. Though they were probably just poking fun at the infumane logic behing euthanizing horses I think the whole video was not done very well or tastefully, and the Onion should avoid this kind of tasteless humor in its videos.

This is just sick, i really thought she was dead. I was quite upset by that. Not only is it sick but it's not funny at all.

this is pretty funny, if you can't find humor in this that's sad. Explain to me how this is different than a real life character dieing in a movie?

That's definitely NOT Shawn Johnson' parents. A simple google search will make that quite easy to understand.

That is so awefulThey talk about her like she is a horse! That is so cruel, i can't even begin to understand why the heck people would do that. Wow......that is just AWEUL. I can't belive it..........that is really mean. those aren't her parents, right? nobody would do that to their child..i hope:(

Look it's meant to be funny if the onion did it to someone you didn't know or care aboutit would be funny in this day andage everything is too serious.time if everything can't be funny in some way the nothing should be.end of story

honestly, some people don't have a moral or values . the only way they can make a living is by disgusting "jokes" go, make those satirical jokes to you'mammma.

dont even get me started on the onion!! my heart nearly stopped cus i really thought she broke her knee and was quitting gymnastics!!! please! dont ever scare me like that again onion!!!!!!!

if you're still wondering if Shawn Johnson is Dead or Not, the answer is NOT - she's alive and jumping on the bars.


Wow, really guys? The Onion is a FAKE news site that uses sarcasm and satire in order to point out funny or ridiculous things in our world. The point here is that as we would obviously NOT 'put down' a human gymnast who becomes too injured to compete, why should we 'put down' an animal that can no longer win races but might have a normal life otherwise? USE YOUR BRAINS PEOPLE!!!

Ok so she's not dead..that was just mean what they did I really thought that she was dead and me and my older brother searched all over the Internet to see if it was real but thank god that she's still alive................But did she break her KNEE???

they r ddiks

This is ridiculous who would do that???
I actually thought she was dead then i relized they werent her parents!!!
Is this some practical joke!!! Cuz it's not funny at all!!!
Its disqusting!!!

Usually satire is based on a real event, I went looking for a news story about Shawn having had an injury. No injury, no death, no satire. Just very poor taste.

The fact that you people are getting worked up over this is amazing. It's satire. It's not 'making fun' of Shawn Johnson or gymnastics. Satire is a tool used to criticize. The point The Onion was trying to make was that the world of gymnastics and in particular the parents of young gymnasts in this country are over the top. They treat these young girls like they are race horses, traveling all over the country spending outrageous amounts of money. In horse racing, when a horse gets seriously injured, there is sadly no reason for it to live and thus it is put down. They're just trying to show similarities and make the argument that the gymnastics world put an unnecessary pressures on girls which haven't even graduated high school!!

Wow! It's amazing how many people think this is real. I think everyone needs to find a dictionary to look up the word "Satirical". That's what the Onion is. A satirical online newspaper.

Those people in the video were not her parents and anyone who watched "Dancing with the Stars" would know that. Check out the URL listed and you'll see the difference. There wouldn't be this much uproar if her parents had endorsed the video by being in it.

It's a video making fun of the ridiculous treatment of race horses. It's amazing how many people get worked up about this. It was a joke and they in no way tried to make it believable. Even the headline should make any educated person realize that the story is fake. What people should take away from this is how race horses are treated in this very fashion without a second thought.

To answer your questions, that video was fake. Those are not her real parents and Shawn is not dead. It was all a fake and that video was not funny. How could someone make a video that's playing with someone's life?

i think that it is really stupid and they should say that its fake before the show

C'mon, people. It's satire. Get over it.

Wow, really guys? The Onion is a FAKE news site that uses sarcasm and satire in order to point out funny or ridiculous things in our world. The point here is that as we would obviously NOT 'put down' a human gymnast who becomes too injured to compete, why should we 'put down' an animal that can no longer win races but might have a normal life otherwise? USE YOUR BRAINS PEOPLE!!!

I thought it was well done and really funny. And it is satirical of inhumane horse-racing practices.

LOL! The Onion video is great, and the rest of the internet had no trouble laughing at and understanding the joke. Learn to LOL, Sun-Times, you'll probably live longer.

Zinger, yes Shawn Johnson and many other athletes are only good when they're good enough to compete. We really wouldn't have cared about them even if they broke ntheir legs or died if it wasn't for them being good atheletes. It's a very true and harsh reality. The Onion did a very wonderful job in exploiting that, besides showing how terrible we are treating animals when they get injured. I understand how the gymnist or her parents can get very upset about the video, but it's a very strong one.

Shawn Johnson is alive! If you do some research as to what I did:
I watched the youtube video and at the same time I google imaged her parents. And if you compare, you can identify that there is no relation to their faces.

I believe that this is very mean to say, and that they should sue the FAKE parents on that show.

Brilliant two-pronged satire of everything that's wrong with horseracing and gymnastics, two abusive and exploitive "sports." I would challenge anyone who has completely misunderstood the intentions of this video to become regular Onion readers. They are a Swiftian voice of reason that I feel has only become more timely and relevant as the years elapse.

I think that video's too much. When I saw it embedded in someone's blog I was like 'wtf??'

Of course, later I realized it was fake and meant to be a joke only.

But at the time, when I was watching the video I was in disbelief that they put her to sleep just because she broke her frickin knee. I really disagree with what Harrega above said. Athletes are not only good when they win gold medals. Under all the glory and prizes, they're just another human being, or, in this case - a kid. They're not animals. And no we don't treat animals badly just because they're hurt, horses or whatever. At least, I don't.

What a sick thing to do, The Onion. Not cool. Not funny either.

I understand what the message they are trying to convey is, and it is definitely a message worth shedding light on- However, the manner in which they went about doing so was utterly tasteless. It really wasn't even funny. I don't know this girl, but my heart was beating scared when I saw this. It's ridiculously inappropriate.

Some might call "A Modest Proposal" ridiculously inappropriate as well, but sometimes a little inappropriateness is precisely what is required to illuminate ethical issues we may have not previously considered.

PEOPLE! THE ONION IS FAKE AND IS MEANT TO SATIRIZE REAL NEWS! I fail to see how offensive and "sick" this video is. It is clear that you fail to see the message behind the video. They are NOT trying to depict Shawn Johnson as useless after suffering a broken leg. What they ARE trying to do instead is expose the irrationality of horse euthanasia after them suffering a temporary and curable injury. They just HAPPENED to use Shawn Johnson, a person whom many people have heard of, as a satirical example. They could have used ANYONE for this purpose. THINK FOR ONCE PEOPLE!

Greatest video of 2009!!!! Real news is both biased, opinionated and total BS, The Onion is just neither biased or opinionated, its just plain BS. how can you lose?

The fact that anyone thought that this story could possibly be true blows my mind. Parents euthanizing their children because their sports careers are ruined (even though Shawn Johnson's is not)? You bought that? REALLY??? You should be pointing the shame dart at your own forehead, not The Onion staff's.

I watched it, laughed out loud, and passed it on to my co-workers so that they could laugh out loud too (which they did). I dunno, maybe I'm unique in surrounding myself with people who use their brains for thinking. In the previous posts there are many explanations of what satire is, and how it can be used constructively to create commentary in an engaging way, so I won't repeat them. Please, the next time you see something that upsets you, take a microsecond to research and make sure you know what you're talking about before opening your over-used pie hole.

that is sooooooooooooo stupid
and really rude.

That is really sick...totally gross !!!

I agree with Jeff -- the fact that so many people thought this video was real is far more disturbing than the video itself.

If you actually thought she was dead you are a damn IDIOT. The video said she had to be euthanized after BREAKING HER KNEE. Does that sound logical to any of you geniuses?

They just went wayyy to far with this. I saw it on youtube and my heart sank. But then when the "parents" said something that i knew was fake i then realized she did not die! phew!!

that is cruel but is she dead or not i love shawn and she better not be dead and if those are her real parents and shes not dead how could they go on tv and say she is they are sick

ok , sreiously ? that was messed up . i look up to her & to talk all this non-sense about her , is simply rude . staright up . i was about to cry after watching that video ! wow , you heartless AHOLE . he went really far , & that's the most ridiculous shit i've ever heard in my life . wthell is wrong with her parents ? how can they just sit there & talk about their daughter like thaat , like woaah !

Alright, how did people NOT find that funny?

Seriously, for all the people who were all "OMG I thought they actually put her down!"

Are you kidding me? Are you so guillable that a parody news show, claiming that Shawn Johnson was PUT DOWN after breaking a leg - which isn't even a legal thing to do- managed to convince you it actually happened.

I facepalm at your incompetence. I facepalm hard.

it is not true on shawn j. being go on her website and look at her photos about her training for 2012 olpymics.

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