The Babylon Bee, with its tagline “Fake News You Can Trust,” is a conservative satirical website that marches out humorous takes on the inexplicable happenings in the world. The daily social media posts, the articles, the videos, and now the books are hardly a grind, as the jokes practically write themselves.
“That’s the weird thing with the time we’re in,” Joel Berry, managing editor at The Babylon Bee, said. “You can sometimes report the straight news and it reads as satire because it's so absurd.”
Kyle Mann, editor-in-chief at The Babylon Bee, acknowledged that, often, the most difficult part of writing these satirical jokes is trying to stay ahead of reality.
“We are approaching the satire singularity now,” Mr. Mann said. “‘The Simpsons were predicting the future 20 years in advance. We put out a joke and it comes true the next week.”
The group has been keeping a tally of how many times they’ve predicted the future. They are currently on the cusp of the century mark.
Guides to Unacceptable Social AcceptabilityThe Babylon Bee has grown exponentially over the past few years. It has 3 million followers on X (formerly known as Twitter), 2 million followers on Instagram, more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook, and nearly 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube. Their spot-on humor pokes fun at the left, the Biden administration, Republicans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marriage, church, and pretty much everything in between.
The creators at The Babylon Bee are making the most of their success in a number of ways. With millions of fans and interested readers, as well as a weird counterculture to push back against, they’ve created social guidebooks. Their third “guidebook” was published on Sept. 19.
The titles are rather straightforward, but that’s the beauty of subtitles. The first book was “The Babylon Bee Guide to Wokeness: How to Take Your Wokeness to the Next Level by Canceling Friends, Breaking Windows, and Burning It All to the Ground,” followed by “The Babylon Bee Guide to Democracy: How to Flawlessly Rig Elections, Bribe Any Politician, and Crush Your Political Enemies for Good.”
The latest is “The Babylon Bee Guide to Gender: The Comprehensive Handbook to Men, Women, and Millions of New Genders We Just Made Up!” The guides are full of nonsense and lunacy, which is precisely the point. The books’ sheer idiotic humor is sadly a direct reflection of the culture shift America is experiencing.
The Power of Humor“Humor has a really unique power to communicate a message when straight talk isn’t getting through to people,” Mr. Mann said. “People become very set in their ways and worldviews pretty early on in life. So there’s not much chance of getting through to them after that. Humor has a way of breaking down that barrier. When someone is laughing at a joke, they aren’t thinking, ‘Oh, what worldview is this joke communicating?’ Laughter is involuntary. Your guard is down and you appreciate the point, even if you don’t agree with it.”
Mr. Mann and Mr. Berry were heavily influenced by satirists such as Christopher Guest, known for “This Is Spinal Tap” and “Best in Show,” and the Monty Python comedy troupe, as well as those known for more thought-provoking work, such as G.K. Chesterton and Mark Twain. The Babylon Bee creators try to emulate these influencers' humor-first style, which was such that the comedy always flowed through their worldviews.
“[Monty Python] made these hilarious political points. I didn’t realize they were making political points when I watched it in middle school,” Mr. Mann said. “I don’t even think Monty Python was trying to make political points. It was just their worldview coming out in their satire.”
“[Chesterton and Twain] were brilliant critics of their current day and they did it with humor and a lot of fun,” Mr. Berry added. “I think if you have a worldview that you are very confident in and you set about making great comedy, it’s going to naturally come out in fun ways.”
According to Mr. Mann and Mr. Berry, getting laughs and having fun is the primary objective, especially with the constant doom and gloom in the news and on social media.
“One of the great things we can do at The Babylon Bee is inject a little bit of joy into people’s news feeds that are filled with darkness,” Mr. Mann said. “It takes the power out of and defangs how depressing politics can be and adds a little joy back into social media.”
The Worldview InfluenceMr. Mann and Mr. Berry will readily admit that their instinctive humor and the way they approach the current culture stems from their worldview. The two are devout Christians, and the company they represent is deeply Christian.
“As Christians, we have this hope. We look far out beyond the rise and fall of America and other empires that will rise and fall, and we know that our king is on the throne and everything is going to be OK,” Mr. Berry said. “Keeping that perspective really helps us maintain a happy outlook. We don’t want the tone of our site to ever become one of anger or spite or rage or hopelessness, because that’s not the reality.”
Mr. Mann and Mr. Berry’s worldview enables them to accept the world in which they live, with all its grotesque evil (some of those evils being the central focuses of their books), but it also demands a certain responsibility from them. A responsibility they feel quite deeply. Their hope is that more Americans will abide by that responsibility, too.
“‘The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie. One word of truth outweighs the world,’” Mr. Mann said, quoting Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. “I love that sentiment. You think of cancel culture and conservatives afraid to speak up for very basic biological truths and very basic factual truths in a lot of different areas. Yes, your job may be at risk and you don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s not your responsibility to know what’s going to happen. It’s your responsibility to not take part in the lie.”
Mr. Mann referenced the unexpected outcome of The Babylon Bee refusing to delete a tweet that named Rachel Levine, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health and a man who identifies as a woman, as its “Man of the Year.” The moment was a modern American cultural standoff. It set off a firestorm that had the left claiming hate speech and Twitter locking them out of their account, which had economic repercussions for the company. But the creators at The Babylon Bee stood firm, knowing that to capitulate would be to admit to something that wasn’t true, and, in comparison, it paled to what Solzhenitsyn had to deal with under Soviet rule.
“It wasn’t a calculated move. We weren’t trying to change the world when we did that,” Mr. Mann said. “And it ended up where Elon Musk bought Twitter in part because of that stand we took. I think it’s just that small step of ordinary faithfulness, not taking part in the lie, and seeing what God can do with it. That’s what we’re called to.
“The number one thing people need to do is buy 100 copies of our book.”