They say that truth is stranger than fiction. But according to Seth Dillon, CEO of America’s largest satire site The Babylon Bee, it is increasingly difficult to see any daylight between the two.
Dillon told Fox News this week that nearly 100 of their site’s satirical headlines have been fulfilled in real life, some within days of their publication. “We have a spreadsheet of nearly 100 jokes now that we’ve tracked,” he said. “They were fulfilled like prophecies instead of punchlines.”
Dillon explained that his writers sometimes struggle to come up with satire because today’s real news headlines so often already read like jokes: “We’re living in really crazy, insane times… there are plenty of times where we pull up a headline, and we’re just baffled by it.”
Dubbed their “Book of Prophecy“, the Babylon Bee’s running tally of fulfilled banter has its own page on the site, with 89 entries so far.
Among them are “BLM Rioters Awarded Nobel Peace Prize“ — a joke made in the midst of 2020’s violent summer riots that was fulfilled less than a year later when “Black Lives Matter nominated for Nobel peace prize” became a real-life headline at NBC News.
In 2016, the Babylon Bee jested that Captain America would be rebooted as a “feminist, atheist, transgender hydra agent“. Over four years later, Marvel indeed began leveraging its characters for a woke agenda and made Captain America an LGBTQ+ activist.
Other bull’s-eyes include a quip that “New, Less Problematic History Books Will Only Include What Happened In The Current Year“ — a headline that was (somewhat) fulfilled only 40 days later when community leaders in Illinois announced their plan to abolish history lessons in schools, per CNN. And it only took 160 days for the Wall Street Journal to report that some colleges were dropping high-bar SAT tests in exchange for hearing applicant’s personal stories, after the Bee joked, “SAT To Be Replaced With DNA Test To Determine How Oppressed You Are“.
While the Babylon Bee is widely known for its Christian and conservative leanings, the outlet isn’t afraid to make light either of Christianity or of conservative politicians — chief among them, former President Donald Trump.
One of the fulfilled jokes Seth Dillon highlighted in his interview with Fox News was the Bee’s 2019 headline, “Trump: ‘I Have Done More For Christianity Than Jesus’,” which at the time was even rated false by humourless fact checkers. Nevertheless, within two years Donald Trump had assured a Christian TV network that nobody had done more for “Christianity or for evangelicals or for religion itself” than him, per Business Insider.
CPAC organisers unwittingly stumbled into the Babylon Bee’s Book of Prophecy when a gold statue of Donald Trump appeared at their 2021 annual conference, three years after the satire site published an article entitled, “First Baptist Dallas Members Melt Golden Jewelry Down Into Towering Donald Trump Statue“.
The Babylon Bee’sprophetic powers were particularly sharp in the Covid-19 era, when they predicted that churches would meet in casinos and identify as protesters to get around discriminatory restrictions (yes, both happened). Another of their headlines, “Triple-Masker Looks Down On People Who Only Double Mask“, played out in real life just one day later when NBC News ran a segment on the efficacy of triple-masking.
Viewed in hindsight, many of the Babylon Bee’s fulfilled headlines provide an eerie reminder of just how rapidly wokeness has run roughshod over long-held societal norms.
Not long ago, no one could have imagined female prisons welcoming biological males in the name of transgenderism. In 2017, the Babylon Bee joked about such a scenario. Three years later, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the same into law — and many jurisdictions around the world have since followed suit.
Likewise, there was a day when few could have imagined the “body positivity” movement becoming so dominant that obese people would appear on the covers of lifestyle magazines. But the Babylon Bee did imagine it — jokingly, of course — and less than five months later, the trend entered mainstream consciousness thanks to Cosmopolitan.
Seth Dillon explained to Fox News that real life wokery has so often come to imitate satire that the hashtag #NotTheBee appeared on Twitter — used by Babylon Bee fans sharing real-life headlines so outrageous that they seemed like satire. The hashtag has since became its own Babylon Bee-affiliate website, Not the Bee, whose content is purely non-satirical but at times borders on the disturbing.
Dillon says that it truly does feel like the woke “are reading the Bee like it’s a playbook, trying to decide what they should do next”.
He insists that his outlet’s eyebrow-raising achievement is not because the Babylon Bee’s satire is too aligned with reality, but rather because real-life woke culture is becoming so absurd that it mimics satire.
“You’d think that if everything you’re doing used to be a comedy bit, you might stop and think about whether you’re on the right track,” he quipped. “Do you really want to play a part in turning the world into a parody of itself?”
Apparently many do.