Tuesday, January 20, 2015
SATIRE ? OH, SO THAT'S SATIRE ... I DIDN'T KNOW !
Most definitions of "satire" suggest that it is a publication or visual display that lampoons, uses sarcasm and irony, criticises, pokes fun at, and calls into question things that are established, that rule or control, that dominate, or are seen to be somehow not right or acceptable. The main effect of satire is to embarrass or shame the established order, to expose the negative or immoral aspects of the established order in order to bring about positive change. Please note the italics here: they are mine, but if you check any accepted definition of "satire", you'll see that sentiment expressed.
So, now we come to modern satire. Indeed, there are many examples of good modern satire. But too often, "satire" is invoked for something else. The "something else" can be low-brow, boorish, sophomoric, insulting, degrading, humiliating, offensive, and repugnant. What's missing is the intent to bring about positive change. A debate could ensue as to what constitutes positive change, but most reasonable people know what that means. Unfortunately, we have too many examples of what passes for "satire" that is actually an excuse to crassly mock something that they just don't like. Facebook uncovers a particularly nasty example I would like to share.
I re-assert my position in the preceeding blog entitled "The Trouble With Charlie". If we want to use free speech properly, we need to be responsible about it. And we constantly have to examine the intent of speech that is critical, ironic, sarcastic, and mocking. If the intent is to bring about positive change , then I am on board fully and completely. But if the intent is otherwise, then I reserve the right to call it what it is.
In the case of Charlie Hebdo, I refuse to look. I think I know enough about it to defend my case. If there are readers of mine out there who have examined Charlie Hebdo, and can prove that it is indeed "satire", please let me know. And we can continue the debate.