The Real Story Behind The Viral Story of Janelle Kelly Missing

The story of Sacramento native Janelle Kelly, who is purportedly 16 years old, has generated a lot of interest and anxiety on the internet. But in actuality, Janelle Kelly was a fiction of the imagination created by the well-known satirical news website The Onion. Actually, The Onion’s comedy sketch from Today Now, which attempted to mimic the media’s coverage of Janelle Kelly’s missing cases, was the story of her disappearance. This article explores the intricacies of the skit, the response from the general audience, and The Onion’s motivation for creating such satire.

The skit: The friends of the missing teen appear on TV to ask for her release

Janelle’s best friends, Megan Cleary and Katie Clements, were the focus of the May 17, 2011, piece titled “Missing Teen’s Friends Go On TV To Plead For Her Release.” When they appeared on Today Now, they were supposedly there to ask for assistance, but they soon got sidetracked into a conversation about trivia and school gossip. In stark contrast to the serious tone of their fictitious TV appearance, the comedy hilariously depicted their apathy to Janelle’s predicament, even going so far as to acknowledge that they had ignored her call. The line between comedy and reality was further blurred when the piece ended with a request for information regarding Janelle’s whereabouts.

The Reactions: Laughter, Anger, and Confusion

The skit was a sarcastic jab at the media’s propensity to exaggerate missing person cases, especially when they feature young ladies. Still, not everyone understood the satire. Some viewers showed sincere concern for Janelle and her family, believing the story to be true. Others were offended when they learned the truth behind the skit and felt it was rude and insensitive to actual kidnapping victims and their families. However, another portion enjoyed the parody and praised The Onion for exposing social attitudes towards missing person cases and media prejudices.

The Goal: Using Satire to Criticise Society

The Onion uses satire to draw attention to and offer critiques of a range of political, cultural, and societal topics. It seeks to provoke thought and discussion on common issues and contradictions through humour. The Onion utilised parody in the Janelle Kelly Missing case to highlight how the media frequently presents missing person situations in an inaccurate manner, favouring sensationalism over objective reporting and sympathetic coverage. The play also functioned as a mirror to the inclinations of society, including our predisposition to judgement quickly, indifference to urgent concerns, and susceptibility to media narratives.


The Janelle Kelly tale that went viral Despite being a work of fiction, Missing sparked a variety of responses and highlighted the important role that the media plays in influencing public opinion. It functioned as a sarcastic indictment of society’s reactions to such narratives as well as media reporting techniques regarding incidents of missing persons. In the end, Janelle Kelly’s story is a powerful reminder of the media’s power and society’s need to respond to these kinds of stories with compassion and critical thought.

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