As you can probably tell, one of my formative writing influences at a tender age was reading the Weekly World News. My grandmother used to buy a copy at the supermarket every week, and when we went over on Sundays my brother and I used to read through it and get a laugh out of the various articles, particularly the horoscopes and “Ed Anger’s America”.
Last summer my wife, knowing my fondness for the world’s largest-circulating weekly newspaper, picked up a copy of the Weekly World News. I read through it, and was amazed at how far it’d slipped. First of all, I didn’t like the disclaimer at the beginning that it was all made up. I preferred when the WWN acted like it took itself serious; I mean, we all knew the stories were fake, but there’s no reason to be so obvious about it. Can you imagine running something at the bottom of SNL skits that said “PARODY – NOT MEANT TO BE AN ACTUAL DEPICTION”?
Secondly, it’d become so self-referential as to be ridiculous. Apparently a regular feature is now the serial adventures of a time-traveling transvestite who constantly talks about past exciting adventures, and bat-boy was splashed over every other page. Sure, I loved the two or three bat-boy stories back in the heyday, and my favorite banner headline from WWN remains “Missing World War 2 Squadron Seen on the Moon”, which was itself a reference to a story from several issues earlier when they detailed the re-emergence of the famous ‘ghost squadron’ of WW2 lost in the Bermuda triangle.
It all sadly pointed to a once-great franchise that had run out of ideas and now floundered in an intellectual wasteland. It’s pretty similar to what has happened to the Los Angeles Times; at least, that’s what I read, because I’ve never met anybody who actually reads it or read it myself.