Well, here we are. As of midnight last night, the American government shutdown is in effect for the first time in 17 years. It's a congressional conundrum that must appear bizarre to outsiders, especially if the uninitiated assume it means the US is now in a state of total, ungoverned anarchy ... which they'd be forgiven for thinking, given the implications of the word "shutdown." For the record, it's not as if we're without law and order.
With over 70 percent of the population reportedly against the shutdown, it's no surprise that anxiety is high among Americans right now. "National parks, paychecks and panda cam all casualties," was retweeted across the country, to which The Sacramento Bee's Christopher Cadelago affixed the following: "Panda cam!?!?"
Please, not our panda cam. What will China think?
Then there was the twitpic of another Washington Post headline that's been hailed "everything that's wrong with journalism." Guardian's Ana Cox pronounced it "[c]owardly." On the other hand, Jennifer Pozner of WIMN's Voices posited, "Almost everything. (Lacks gender/racial slurs)." Nevertheless, this small mercy did not prevent The Atlantic's James Fallows from lamenting, "Jeff Bezos, you've got a big job ahead."
In other headline-related news, the New York Daily News was also moved to produce this gem of a header: “House of Turds.” It was enough to prompt Joanna Weiss at The Boston Globe to comment, "Why we still need tabloids, too." J. duLac at the Washington Post agreed, "Inspired @NYDailyNews cover today, via @Newseum." Some were less sure. "Wait. This is real???" Reuters' Amanda Becker asked incredulously.
We could go into each and every punny or scaremongering front page, of course, but then, The Atlantic has them all compiled neatly in one place for you to pick which one's your favorite.
Then Joshua Keating at Slate brainstormed an ingenious way to handle all the surrealism. Fortune's Katie Benner called it, "The Slatiest Slate story... but great. If the govt shutdown happened in another country, how we'd cover it." And it was great--a perfectly meta way for us to come to terms with our own quandary. "Good effort getting all the cliches in there," applauded Adam Schreck with the Associated Press. TIME's Nick Carbone cited examples: "'Rival clans' ... 'Embattled regime' ... Describing the shutdown using words often reserved for places far, far away." It also got the seal of outside approval from BBC's Katty Kay, who deemed it a "[p]retty much accurate view of how this looks to everyone outside US."
So, fear not, bewildered neighboring nations--we are not in total anarchy. It's only been a few hours. We're keeping our shirts on.
Plus, remember, there's still The Onion, which is always good for a parody of our plight.