The products on display here (the Hutzler 571 Banana slicer and the Wenger GIANT Swiss Army Knife with 87 tools, for only $1400) invite sarcastic and often wildly funny product reviews from Amazon browsers and customers. I discovered these reviews through a Facebook post, and after a little research, I’ve found that this sub-genre of satiric writing has been going on for quite some time. The earliest compilation of these that I have found came from the blogger Hyojin, in Geek in Heels. That was back in October of 2008. Her post included product reviews that had been written as early as October 2006. Cracked.com published a compilation of these back in 2010. Now, six years behind the curve, and fascinated and delighted by the humor that I can find on Amazon…Especially when it comes from my own students — as in this example:
If you haven’t read them yet, you have to check out the reviews — they gave my English classes the most laughs of anything I’ve tried with them all year, and I’ve spent hours perusing the 2500 different reviews of the banana slicer alone. Within these reviews, there are also product forums, where “users” “discuss” the products — and these conversations can be very funny. Additionally, the reviews are subject to ratings (“How useful was this review to you?). Some particularly funny reviews are rated thousands of times for their usefulness.
If your students have Amazon accounts, they can publish product reviews (as my student did in the example above). If they do, they will be interacting with a real community of very funny writers — and an extremely authentic audience. Even if they don’t, the fake product reviews provide open lessons in irony and rhetorical humor for many different levels of student.
So if you need a Friday lesson, give it a try.