FMN turns 5 next week so we’re taking a break from breaking news to look back at the nation’s most pointless website. This article may be of interest to those curious to know what goes on behind the scenes and how our satire sausages are made.
HOW FMN BEGAN
In late May 2012, we attended a Kuching family wedding and found ourselves hanging out in a hotel for an afternoon. With little else to do, we read newspapers and blogs for hours and like Neo in The Matrix started to see amusing patterns in how Malaysian news is presented and spun in pro and anti-govt media. We wondered why Malaysia didn’t have a parody humour newspaper and decided to try writing one for fun.
OUR LOVE/HATE FOR THE NAME OF THE WEBSITE.
Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and The Colbert Report referred to their type of comedic news as ‘fake news’ so we decided on the name ‘Fake Malaysia News.’ We liked the idea that it was either Fake News about Malaysia or maybe the website reported from an imaginary ‘Fake Malaysia.’
These were typical 2012 FMN stories. We would write an article based on a whim then make up the headline as an afterthought which we later discovered was NOT the best way to do things. Today like the Onion and other satire websites, we brainstorm headlines and only write up the funniest ones. Also these topics weren’t related to the trending news of the day which limited their appeal.
We still like this one with the wordplay but the headline wasn’t the funniest. Also it’s longer than our regular stuff. You can read it here.
Our very first viral hit came after we wondered if just about anyone could confirm to these silly ‘gay guidelines’ touted by the education ministry. This meme was ripped off by a whole bunch of people but it got us lots of new readers.
The biggest misconception about FMN is its main goal is to fool people.
Tricking people with clickbait fake news isn’t difficult.
HEADLINE: – <famous person> shot dead, converts to <other religion> before ejaculating into swimming pool and making 100’s pregnant.
Not really a creative challenge is it? Luring people to visit your website so you can troll them makes no sense to us. It’s like inviting people to your open house then throwing eggs when they arrive.
Making funny(ish) jokes from topical news is our real mission. It’s basically having a little fun with headlines.
If this site was called, “The Durian” or “The Malaysian Tribune” we might have more readers. We’re what they politely call ‘a cult hit.’
We’re relived so far, no major local or foreign news source has picked up our satire as a true story and gotten themselves (and us) into trouble.
It’s not often we’re OK having a laugh at ourselves. This one did well but some mistook it for a racial statement because of the photo we chose. Read it here.
In our 2nd year we became more daring and poked fun at public figures. This would be a pretty typical FMN headline today, but in 2013 it was a big step towards the site becoming what you read today. You can read it here.
We sweated and sweated this one and seriously considered not putting it up.
Can you satirise religious authorities without people feeling it’s an attack on the religion? We watched it like a hawk after posting and was very relieved readers took it in good humour. You can read it here.
The PM traveled extensively in 2014. This is still one of our favorite headlines. Read the full story here.
We wish in general the Opposition was stronger so we could poke fun at them without feeling like we’re kicking someone whose already down.
This was when we had some fun during the 2014 ‘Kajang Move’ when Anwar was scheming and Pakatan was actually driving the national discussion as opposed to reacting to government policy. Read it here.
People actually fell for this one which surprised us seeing it looked pretty absurd to us. Luckily we can always rely on our regular readers to let newcomers in on the joke.
By now we were working nimbly and trying to write satire the same day a major story breaks. In this case the PM’s unfortunate timing of golfing with Obama during the East Coast floods.
This character based humour is arguably the naughtiest thing we do. Tee didn’t say this, but as silly as the quote is, it still sounds like something he would’ve said… Full story here.
Unorthodox solutions to pressing problems are always fun and this was a favorite of ours in 2014. Story here.
MH370 was so sad it became the one story everyone was talking about that we didn’t want to joke about. When we did come out of hibernation, we wrote a few stories about how the search was handled.
One of our rare ones tackling East Malaysia.
Saiful was comedy gold for FMN and we put this out the day of the verdict. Read it here.
Shock value. The rift between Najib and Muhyiddin begins.
This April 2015 article features the first appearance of FMN’s resident every-man, Abdullah bin Bakar. We use him in most stories that need a commentator or expert of some kind.
This juxtaposition of 1MDB over this classic exhibitionist sex scandal upset some readers for its nudity but we argued there’s much more graphic violence on Facebook anyway.
Basically we took the two top stories of that day and created a mash up. Read it here.
This is a pretty silly joke that worked very well for us while everyone was disappointed the PM skipped his own ‘nothing to hide’ event. Read it here
Another mashup of the week’s top 2 stories both of which involved dress codes.
Sometimes we flip a well-known story or headline. This came out shortly after the PM said UMNO should be brave like Isil. Read it here.
Both these stories are in our hall of fame because they convey quite complex jokes. Jokes are ultimately about tickling the brain by making connections you may not have made before and communicating these ideas into a headline and featured image don’t always work out as well as these two did.
These are all FMN based on topical news and did well though the last one confused people momentarily.
This one did well but we regret not using a pic of the IGP for the ‘seditious’ button.
This again is a case of us flipping the news. If Klantan blames Thailand can the reverse be true? Read it here.
Long headline this one but the gag still worked.
We would do more visual gags if we weren’t so lazy (and crap at photoshop).
This is us playing devil’s advocate on the Halal shopping trolley debate.
Not our most popular story, but this was widely shared as a discussion piece by people much smarter than we are. Satire doesn’t need to be constructive but sometimes it can trigger debate. Read it here.
For some reason some readers were obsessed with checking the authenticity of this fake photo. Nice gag though.
CAN FAKE NEWS BE GOOD FOR YOU?
The honest answer to this question is… sort of.
If anyone with a pulse can set up an authentic looking news website, it’s up to readers to be on their toes and know when they are being informed, influenced, joked with, or outright lied to.
In the end, the news will almost always bring a tear to your eye. If FMN can make some of those tears be tears of laughter, then that’s reason enough for us to keep doing this.
Thanks so much for reading FMN.