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The five stages of satire and a very unfunny satirical piece

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posted on Aug, 25 2021 @ 07:44 PM
The following is an easy that I wrote last year entitled The Five Stages of Satire In Its Relationship To A Decaying Culture. The Babylon Bee recently posted a satirical piece entitled Americans Trapped By Taliban With No Rescue Plan Happy To Hear They Are Not Stranded (link below) which was an excellent piece of satire but was as unfunny and disturbing as hell. It brought to mind my essay. I share both here.

Satire is defined as follows:

Merriam-Webster says:
1: a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

The Cambridge Dictionary describes it as:
a way of criticizing people or ideas in a humorous way, especially in order to make a political point, or a piece of writing that uses this style: has the following definition:
1: the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2: a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3: a literary genre comprising such compositions.

Since Jonthan Swift penned A Modest Proposal in 1729, satire has been a powerful weapon in the armory of social commentators. I have recently commented to someone that satire and sarcasm are two edges of one sword, both useful in bringing foolishness to its knees. Both involve humor and keen observation to be effective. Both are hated by people who fancy themselves to be in a position of power.

I believe that within a socio-political construct satire moves between five distinct stages, but through slow progression, one stage bleeding over into the next.

FIRST, satire is funny; while it exposes extremes and excesses, it makes us look at ourselves through a more honest lens and gives us a chuckle in the process as we get a clearer picture of how silly we are. At this stage, it's funny though it is also meant to be biting and to challenge the status quo.

SECOND, satire becomes confusing in that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the reality and satirical commentary. It begins to mirror reality in a way that makes us realize how twisted the reality has become. At this point, it begins to bother some people as it aggressively mocks and exposes excesses and stupidity.

THIRD, satire becomes disconcerting. It begins to lose its humourous edge and acts more as biting social and political commentary. Here is where it begins to elicit reactions of anger, opposition and censorship.

FOURTH, satire becomes downright discomforting, even scary as it denudes the reality, stripping the lie from the hidden truth. It can lose its humor and become disturbing as it denudes a disturbing and twisted reality. Here, it is ignored by the vast majority of people as what it exposes is just too painful to acknowledge. (This, I believe, is where we are now in the United States.

FIFTH, satire is outlawed.

Have a look at this piece of satire by the Babylon Bee, a well known source of satire on the current socio-political morass in which the U.S. finds itself, then see this shamefully clueless reaction by what is considered by some (your author definitely excluded) to be a reputable news source. You’ll see what I’m getting at.

Then there's this Babylon Bee piece which is definitely Stage 4. This piece, while excellent biting satire, is definitely not funny, not was it, I think, meant to be

How long until we reach Stage 5?

edit on 2021 8 25 by incoserv because: typos and formatting.


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