Satire is underrated. Also hard to do. And often misunderstood. So, who’s the great satirist now?
The trouble with satire is that half the people aren’t smart enough to get it (Huck Finn, anyone?), a quarter of the people will get it and be pissed off, and a quarter of the people will get it and chuckle and nod and not do anything about it.
Has satire moved away from its real purpose–to shame people into changing–and erred on the side of humor instead? Is it because humor is easier? Safer? Politically less volatile? Is Stephen Colbert really just a clown? A very good comedian?
Isn’t there a line between satire and parody? Isn’t one more complex and intelligent than the other?
Is The Onion as close as we have to genuine satire? It would have been very easy for them to go down the comedic road of cheap laughs and never look back, but for the most part haven’t they done a pretty swell job, even if it is getting old?
Can you do satire on a daily basis? What isn’t proper fodder for such treatment?
Jonathan Swift, sure. Chaucer. What about Garry Trudeau? And by extension South Park? And then Jonathan Coulton and John Hodgman? Everyone named John?
Must it be more than one’s tongue embedded in cheek?
Should Animal Farm be classified as satire? 1984? Is satire easier to do in science fiction? Is it even technically possible? Can you satirize something that doesn’t actually exist yet? Or is the human condition what’s always really being satirized, regardless of the setting? Is that too simple?
Who is taking the easy way out? Who isn’t? Who is the real live eminent satirist of our time?
It’s not Tom Wolfe, is it? Tell me it’s not Tom Wolfe. No offense to his work. But the white suit.
And why are there no women mentioned in this post? Mary Roach could be the greatest satirist of our time if she wanted to.