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The Poor State of Satire

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posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 06:53 PM
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On the one hand laughter, sudden and spontaneous, evokes merriment and festivity, the mirth of good friends and cheer; on the other hand it is the taunting, snickering and sneering found complicit wherever there is injustice. Laughter can be fickle.

“Irony”, says poet Czeslaw Milosz, “is the glory of slaves”. It is the one weapon a slave possesses that cannot be misappropriated or crushed by the masters. In contrast, satire is the glory of free men. Satire can and has been crushed and misappropriated by the masters because it requires an audience. In a place like North Korea for instance, satire would be a terrific act of courageous dissent, and the satirist might find himself trapped in chains, or at any rate, left with nothing but irony.

This is not so in the West where there is no shortage—indeed there is a saturation—of satirists. There are no Gulags jailing dissidents; there are no inquisitors condemning heretics; there are no fire-breathing Mullahs reviling blasphemy; there is no Administration of Press and Publication censoring artists. There are places and there were times when satire required a little courage. In the West, however, with no predators to cull the herd, satire is no longer a revolutionary nor radical act, but an all too typical one.

Forget dissent altogether, not to mention the assumption that satire is always something subversive or honest. In the West, satire tends to be conformist and mediocre and popular fair for those within the inner circle, with every chuckle a chance for the audience members to remind each other how high and mighty they are because they are not the punchline. Observe the political persuasions of late-night and early-morning talk show hosts, comedians, sketch comics, and humorists, and you'll see there is little room for variety or deviation, let alone dissent. With every Daily Show “correspondent” getting his or her own show, it gets more and more difficult to tell who is the original and who is the knock-off. It isn't so much satire but mimicry, and the conditioned response to it, that appeals to the captured mind.

Observe also that satirists are not so radical when they are accepting massive payments from corporate coffers, or are employed and allocated by media giants. What might have been used to shine a light on the darkness of society with wit and humor is instead a lucrative venue for exploiting the smug groupthink and tribalism of certain political persuasions. Here the laughter has become therapeutic but never enlightening. Confirming and rarely challenging an audience's prejudices is a sign of a profit motive and nothing besides, while the public, who are by now totally inured to the trend, will do no more than wait for the next self-satisfying giggle. It makes you wonder if those who attempt satire nowadays do it to challenge the status quo, or, as seems to be the case, to fall in line behind it. Someone like a John Oliver, a Stephen Colbert, or a Seth Myers calling a politician names in front of a snickering fan-club while deriding the vulgar commoners who vote for them, is no more satire than when the popular kids start bullying those they think are of a lower stock.

Besides, politicians are already jokes, and mocking them is to be expected. Political humor in the west is not only unfunny and of zero risk, but also the lowest of hanging fruit, and the satirist might do best to stay away from it in favor of tackling oppression and injustice wherever it arises, even in his own peers and fellows. The stereotype of the evil and corrupt politician, executive, or rich guy has become such a convenient scapegoat for those who require someone—anyone—but themselves to blame, that to reserve the sardonic and derisive tone for them is to miss the point of satire entirely, while ensuring decent people will never take up the job.

No, the satire of the past election was little more than the teasing of the most obvious targets, which left the listener torpid in his eagerness to conform. Any child can mock another’s skin or hand size or way of talking, but it takes a trite more grit to mock injustice and oppression. The sheer repetition and volume with which teasing continued (even after it was proven ineffectual), demonstrated the conventional, uninspired and chichéd nature that cowardly hacks tend to resort to when allowed to flourish and breed in their own filth for too long without any self-reflection. Perhaps it proves more the addiction to groupthink, which has by now been a Pavlovian mainstay in the satirist’s brain chemistry, as they look for snickers more than changed minds.

Nonetheless all of it backfired in spectacular fashion when it only humanized their targets, leaving the satirist to appear elitist, snobbish, condescending, and worse, unfunny in their attempts to appear better than them, a feat that was never realized outside of the satirist’s brain.

They focused on words, never deeds; they focused on looks, never action; they focused on teasing, never satirizing; and while self-congratulating each other, ruined satire in the process.



Thank you for reading,

-LesMis




posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:04 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope
The UK used to have a satirical puppet show called "Spitting Image" which was in full flow all the way through the Thatcher era; for example

Yet the creators would acknowledge retrospectively (I've seen the interviews) that their weekly attacks probably had no impact whatsoever on the power of her government. It seems that modern satire only speaks to those who are already convinced.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:04 PM
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Awesome, as usual!

Didn't you get the fake news? Satire is now fake news to be scrubbed from the interwebs. But I still intend to fight fire with satire that drips with irony....




edit on 4-1-2017 by IgnoranceIsntBlisss because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:13 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Satire hurts those unable to take an objective look at themselves.

If you don't have the ability to laugh at yourself, then satire is lost.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:17 PM
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That was a brilliantly written and long winded way of saying
"Fook'em if they can't take a joke."



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:18 PM
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this isnt another clinton email thread is it? ??!!



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:23 PM
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Dissing modern satirist as elitist, snobbish, condescending and unfunny and then using C. Hitchens throwing the audience the bird, to cement your argument....

The irony wasn't to glaring eh?



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 07:49 PM
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satire is alive and well in the world of meme magic.

Comedy central's news shows along with HBO's have turned into a bash fest

I would say even south park has lost its way a bit these last 2 seasons but its still good.

comedians in general, its not as good.
Part of that problem is trying to get a women on top of comedy, and the best they had was schumer, sad.

Another problem is these satirist and other people of comedy are becoming disconnected from fly over country. They are punching down on these people.
Coastal city people and flyover country are diverging.

There is no balance because people with different opinions are not allowed in these circles that make content.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 08:23 PM
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originally posted by: olaru12
Dissing modern satirist as elitist, snobbish, condescending and unfunny and then using C. Hitchens throwing the audience the bird, to cement your argument....

The irony wasn't to glaring eh?


It's "too", for future reference.

I used Hitchens as an allusion to his great piece in the Atlantic entitled Cheap Laughs. The smug satire of liberal humorists debases our comedy—and our national conversation. Similiar subjects and overlapping criticisms. I was going to quote from it, but because my post was long-winded enough, I opted for the video to satisfy the short attention span.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 08:38 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Very thoughtful and possibly prescient analysis. I agree with the statement that corporations controlling and filtering all media is a major problem and has led us to the low point of wit and creativity we are currently experiencing. I think a major problem is that we lack men of vision and experience who have the trained eye of the academic subversive and the wit and ability to articulate our condition.

Some of the 20th centuries great satiric novels such as Burgess's "Clockwork Orange" or Orwell's "1984" address fundamental issues of human nature and morality, such as the existence of good and evil and the importance of free will, who today thinks in these terms or deals in these commodities? Don't look to the American education system to produce any great satirists, the system is in such a sad state that if something isn't done soon we will be living the dystopian models which were intended as satire.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 08:53 PM
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a reply to: WilliamtheResolute

A man after my own heart. I agree with everything. Then again I suppose bad satire is a testament how good things are. Still I think there are targets for satire, but they may not visible enough yet.



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 09:03 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

We are the target......

The last best hope of earth, two trillion dollars in debt, is spinning out of control, and all we can do is stare at a flickering cathode-ray tube as Ollie answers questions on TV while the press, resolutely irrelevant as ever, asks politicians if they have committed adultery. From V-J Day 1945 to this has been, my fellow countrymen, a perfect nightmare.
Gore Vidal



posted on Jan, 4 2017 @ 09:08 PM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

Very well written Original Post.

As a fan of satire myself I can agree with Hitchens' assessment that the low brow simplistic jokes appealing to the least common denominator are the path of least resistance for the comedian in both intellectual effort and content.



posted on Jan, 5 2017 @ 12:08 AM
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a reply to: LesMisanthrope

its a good thing you corrected his grammar whilst pointing out snobbery and smugness... its not like the other 'o' sometimes gets omitted via weird html magic.
at least horatian satire is alive and well.

edit on 5-1-2017 by odzeandennz because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 5 2017 @ 01:27 AM
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The poor state of top notch threads in this site not getting their due.



posted on Jan, 8 2017 @ 07:38 AM
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originally posted by: odzeandennz
a reply to: LesMisanthrope

its a good thing you corrected his grammar whilst pointing out snobbery and smugness... its not like the other 'o' sometimes gets omitted via weird html magic.
at least horatian satire is alive and well.


If you wish to lament the smugness of grammar nazis, or the elitism of fellow posters, be my guest, but at least do so with a respect of punctuation and capitalization. Something I find that helps is to read what you post before hitting the post button.



posted on Jan, 22 2017 @ 07:44 PM
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a reply to: odzeandennz

I admire the courageous irony of your post, not only retaliating against elitist forum snobbery with your words, but also in form. To deliberately disregard one of the fundamental laws of grammar, Capitilization, and by doing so risk being viewed as a man or woman of inferior intelligence, all for the sake of delivering your point in the most sarcastic, satirical manner possible, is utterly heroic.



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