Instead, he began as a distinct character with outrageous qualities who shared little in common with his source. The Onion variously portrayed Biden as a blue-collar " average Joe ", an affable "goofy uncle", a muscle car driver, a raucous party animal, a petty criminal, and even a drug-dealing gang member—all while serving as the 47th vice president of the United States. The character became one of The Onion ' s most popular recurring features during the Obama presidency , garnering critical acclaim and large numbers of page views.
Although Biden was mentioned in The Onion as early as , he had not been the focus of an Onion piece until Obama's and his inauguration in January Staff writer Chad Nackers originated a distinctive version of Biden, which developed over the course of the real Biden's two terms as vice president between and The character subsequently appeared in more than 50 Onion articles, as well as numerous videos and other media.
Despite the radical discrepancies between the fictional character and the real politician, The Onion ' s depiction of Biden was often regarded as having a significant, mostly positive influence on his public image.
Commentators have noted that the character reinforced Biden's reputation as a good-natured, easy-going populist with strong ties to the working class. The real Biden expressed his enjoyment of the characterization and publicly commented on it several times.
Mitch McConnell referenced the character on the Senate floor during a speech given in tribute to the departing vice president amid the presidential transition of Donald Trump. More recently, the original Onion characterization has drawn criticism. Shortly after Biden announced his presidential campaign , former Onion editor Joe Garden penned an op-ed expressing regret over the publication's largely apolitical, uncritical portrayal of the character.
The Onion briefly revived the "Diamond Joe" version of Biden in its coverage of the Democratic primaries before dropping it in favor of satirizing real-world developments in the politician's campaign and public image. Joe Biden is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. He represented Delaware in the U. Senate from to As the running mate of Barack Obama , Biden was elected vice president of the United States in and The Onion is an American publication that parodies traditional newspapers and satirizes current events.
Founded in in Madison, Wisconsin as a weekly satirical print newspaper , it began publishing online in and discontinued its print edition in The Onion had a few noteworthy instances of consistent characterizations over time prior to Biden, such as portrayals of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in the s.
Chad Nackers, the writer who created the Biden character, joined The Onion in By , he had been on staff longer than anyone else in the paper's history. Prior to becoming vice president in , Biden was not heavily featured in The Onion. His few early appearances did not reflect the distinctive traits of the later character. The earliest mention of Biden was published in August , during the early period of the Democratic Party presidential primaries. With the headline "Critics Accuse Joe Biden of Running for President for Political Reasons", the article was based on a nonspecific premise that did not rely on any aspect of the real Biden's personality or career and, in principle, could have been written using any candidate as its subject.
Even after Biden was selected as Obama's running mate , he was only occasionally mentioned in The Onion. But Nackers said that the candidate's public appearances as Obama's running mate—especially, in Nackers's words, the " shit-eating grin he had" at those appearances—began to provide a "spark" of inspiration for the character. The first appearance of the Biden character coincided with the first inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, , when The Onion ran the headline "Joe Biden Shows Up to Inauguration With Ponytail" paired with a manipulated image of Biden sporting a long blond ponytail , without an accompanying article.
During Biden's first year in office, The Onion published a few articles that depicted him as a more traditional vice president, including a spoof on the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation titled "Biden Pardons Single Yam in Vice-Presidential Thanksgiving Ritual". Soon, the newspaper's editors had so many jokes based on the character that there was a backlog of rejected pitches. The Onion Biden is typically described as a blue-collar everyman with a taste for partying and debauchery. Often referred to by the nickname "Diamond Joe", the character loves hair metal and classic rock from the s and s.
He drives a Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and motorcycles. Peters , the Onion staff wrote Biden in "one of two molds: Boozy and brash, or slick and over-sexed.
The Onion ' s Biden shares little in common with Biden's real life, career, or behavior; indeed, as Dave Itzkoff put it, the character shares little at all with "any version of established reality or fact. Most of the similarities between the two Bidens are in the broad outlines of their image and personality. In political terms, Biden's reputation as a liberal populist corresponds to the character's blue-collar life. Speaker Boehner wearing a ponytail at the Inauguration?
Compared to most comedic portrayals of Biden, The Onion ' s was unconventional in its almost complete detachment from his real attributes. For the humor to work, Downey said readers "have to know that it's completely wrong and arbitrary", but readers without an existing impression of Biden may believe that the parody is referencing some of his actual characteristics.
Samantha Rollins January 18, . In his two terms as vice president between and , Biden was the subject of more than 50 articles and multiple videos in The Onion. The book, ostensibly an autobiography , gives a fictionalized account of Biden's life in the character's voice.
Most of the book's plot deviates completely from Biden's life story—there is, for example, a description of Biden meeting God during some "mystical-ass experiences" in the summer of —but it also offers alternate retellings of real incidents, like Biden's role in Robert Bork 's unsuccessful Supreme Court nomination.
Biden was invited to attend, but declined. After Biden left office, The Onion dropped the popular character but found similar breakout success with its portrayal Donald Trump 's sons, Donald Jr.
Articles about Biden were some of the most-read articles on The Onion ' s site of their time. The site drew about 7. The character has received widespread praise in the media. After Lucy Flores published an essay in alleging Biden had inappropriately kissed and touched her, there was renewed attention on other allegations that Biden has made inappropriate physical contact with women.
To some, The Onion had tacitly excused Biden's conduct or minimized the seriousness of inappropriate behavior toward women. The New Yorker ' s Katy Waldman wrote that the Onion ' s articles about Biden "made hypermasculine tropes look not only unthreatening but delightful" and "were the satirical equivalent of petting the Labrador on the head".
Conversely, other commentators felt that the Onion ' s jokes had called attention to the issue of Biden's inappropriate behavior toward women without necessarily glorifying or excusing his behavior. Biden publicly commented on the character on several occasions, generally indicating that he enjoyed the Onion articles about him. He also tended to express relief that the character was so radically different from his actual personality and poked fun at the Onion Biden's affinity for the Trans Am.
Beyond his public comments, Onion staffers have said members of Biden's staff privately conveyed his enjoyment of the character to them. He really likes it. When the Times reporter requested an interview with Biden to confirm Tracy's statement, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied the request and replied, "Let me get this straight: You want to interview the vice president about stories about him in The Onion? Well, I'll give you credit for trying.
In a video interview with Yahoo! News , Biden was asked about The Onion and said most of his acquaintances and even members of the press tended to think of him as "a little bit square ", but "now, I'm the philanderer. I think it's hilarious, the stuff they do on me. While shirtless, have you ever washed a Pontiac Trans Am in your driveway? I have been in my bathing suit in my driveway and not only washed my Goodwood-green Corvette but also simonized it.
At least the Onion should have had me washing a Trans Am convertible. I love convertibles. Metaxas, who was the event's keynote speaker, was making small talk with Biden before his speech and asked the vice president if he was aware of the Onion pieces. According to Metaxas, Biden replied "yes, he had seen them, and he didn't mind them at all, because they were so obviously about someone who was completely different from what he was really like.
Then he added, as a kind of Q. Ever look under the hood of a Corvette? January 18, . The signature "—VP" was used to credit the tweet to Biden personally, rather than a member of his staff. The presidential account retweeted it soon after it was posted. I'll tell ya right now, whatever they say nothing can come between me and my Zam. And by the way, the so-called goofy Uncle Joe—if you notice, I beat every Republican in every poll when they thought I was running [in ].
You notice that my favorability was higher than anybody that's running for office in either party. According to several academic commentators, Biden engaged with comedic portrayals of himself as a public relations strategy. Historian Edward L. Widmer said Biden's public embrace of the Onion and other parodies helped to signal his sense of humor and show "a quality of humanity. Waisanen and Amy B.
Becker wrote that Biden responded approvingly to comedic portrayals that reinforced his " folksy " public image, which further cultivated that perception. There is widespread consensus that The Onion had an impact on Biden's public image. The Onion editor Tracy remarked in "My sense is that we've done so much on him that our vision for our version of Joe Biden has, in some way, seeped into the nation's consciousness [and] people think our character of Joe Biden is somehow him. Because the character contrasts so strongly with the real person, some commentators have expressed the view that The Onion ' s Biden has, to some degree, supplanted the real Biden in the public imagination.
Has a satire ever so effectively overwritten the image of a politician? The full corpus of Diamond Joe amounts to a powerful and paradoxical new origin story. It is intriguing that this fantasy caricature of Biden makes him an endearing outlaw, when the real Biden's political legacy includes the Crime Bill , and the terrible scale of mass incarceration that followed from it.
Nevertheless, it remains difficult to quantify The Onion ' s impact on Biden's image, and so the precise extent of the newspaper's influence is unclear. The Onion ' s Biden became a popular Internet meme and influenced perceptions of Biden in Internet culture , particularly during the Obama administration. In addition to becoming a meme in its own right, The Onion ' s Biden influenced other memes and online discourse about Biden, which frequently imagined him as a roguish goof paired with Obama as the more serious " straight man ".
President, what's your favorite Wu Tang album? April 26, . Brian Feldman at New York magazine wrote that "Biden-joke pedants might point out that the butt-rock-loving Biden of the Onion would probably not be a Wu-Tang Clan fan," but blippoblappo's tweet "nevertheless carries with it the same myth-making potency: an image that it feels more true than the actual truth.
The character has even entered the Congressional Record. During the presidential transition of Donald Trump , Mitch McConnell referenced the character in a December speech to the Senate floor delivered in tribute to Biden. And so did he. Joe Garden , a former Onion writer and editor who left in after working there for 19 years, publicly criticized the former newspaper's portrayal of Biden in May In the Vice piece, Garden wrote that he still believed the Biden pieces were funny in their light-hearted way.