Satire elitism - 2008-07-17 09:02
I struggled with political correctness for years until I decided that being polite was probably a good goal for a developed civilization, and all the craziness that came with it was just the cost of doing business. Today, I'm OK with the concept and have worked it in, except sometimes I don't because, fuck-em.
I'm not so sure that making satire a bad thing will be as easy to get used to.
When I write policies and procedures at work I always try to write them so that they can be read two ways -- the straight and the not so straight. I try to add words or phrases that change meanings or, even better, load meanings with either exaggeration or importance that they don't really have. I do this because I think it's funny, it makes the procedures more interesting, and it makes my employees read it more carefully -- but mostly because I think it's funny.
It's also a variation of satire.
If we lived in a world when cause and effect were more straightforward, reason led to legislation and self-interest were more enlightened, satire might find itself an dying art in a land of puppies and bee's without stingers. We don't -- look around -- most of the news and half of the commentary is pure Swiftian in its bite.
The Jessie Helm's aides bill? Homeland security?
Good satire is priceless. When Swift proposed eating Irish babies it worked on two levels. Because the English were doing the equivalent damage to the Irish that eating babies would have anyway, and to some, it actually seemed a sensible solution to the Irish problem.
It also made people think, argue, question, debate and have real emotions over a real-life event.
It probably changed some stuff too.
But, back to the question, if people are offended by, or uncomfortable with satire, Maye it's because they confuse it with sarcasm.
I have a rule to never make fun of things people can't change -- big nose, eyes too far apart -- that sort of thing. Anything else evolves to a meanness that can be seen as aggressive sarcasm.
I think that satire should work with that philosophy as well -- make no fun of global warming, the war in Iraq, or Presidential immunity -- all things that really aren't going to change -- so attacking them under the table is just a recipe for pissing off good people.
People see satire as another way of smart people, like Hollywood celebrities, to make fun of them -- that it's mean goes against a belief they don't really feel a need to argue, question, debate about.
Like God, or Bush-- if you know your belief is true and absolute and based on faith instead of reason-- why would you want to listen to someone fuck with the thing in your head that's not going to change anyway? I mean -- what's so funny about that?
If you are only buying one thing in the marketplace anyway -- why think about it?