Satire Is Dead…Long Live Satire

Here’s a hot tip: if you explain that what you’re doing is satire…then it ceases to be satire. Why would you do that to yourself? How insulting do you need to be to your audience to essentially say, “Hey, all of this was SATIRE!”

Who is to blame for this apparently sudden turn of Satire-Not-Satire that has plagued denizens of The Internets?

It’s not only satire that has taken a turn for the awful; it’s this constant need for people to button anything they say with a criticism “shield” of sorts. Such as, “I don’t want to hear in the comments ‘X’” or “People are allowed to disagree about stuff” or any other beta-ass mealy-mouth nonsense that is supposed to act as butt hurt insulation against arguments or disagreement that arises from said comment.

How about you just say the stupid thing you’re going to say and deal with the consequences?

Nevertheless, back to the topic at hand. What happened to satire?

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In the great democratization of The Internets, it appears that satire has befallen the same sort of homogenization that apparently every single thing has fallen to. You can’t be Coke or Pepsi anymore, you have to be San Pellegrino Blood Orange Flavored Carbonated Beverage or Organic Cruelty Free Protein Smoothie with Kale, this micro-niche tribalism is fast getting out of hand. The absurd need to be an “individual” is nearing an apex and instead of “people”, we have singular “republics of me”.

Look, I’m all about “doing you” or whatever that means, but that doesn’t mean you get to eschew the rules to fit the ever-sliding scale of covering your ass or not appearing to convey something you are conveying.

Satire is not saying something you know is inflammatory and pretending you were just kidding, just as you get in to increasingly hot water with the public at large. Once the marketplace of ideals has soundly rejected your “satire” that is not the time to suddenly say “Oh, just kidding! Satire…you know!”

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Satirists like Jonathan Swift and Ambrose Bierce didn’t append their works with a page of “you know…this is all satire”. The need to clarify if something satirical is completely antithetical to the nature of satire.

Perhaps there is confusion because people are generally ignorant and don’t understand that instead of satire they’re just partaking in hyperbole. That could necessitate the need to explain it when the need arises. Instead of using satire as some sort of shitty catchall for your general lack of understanding satire, perhaps say, “Hey, I’m just being hyperbolic to make a point!”

Herein lies the rub, hyperbole is a tool of satire, but there is more to satire than just being outrageous. Hence, the clarification that saying something inflammatory then going “JK” is not satire. Yelling “Fire!” in a crowded room and then telling the authorities you were just being satirical isn’t going to absolve your ass from being arrested.

It’s with much effort that I have avoided simply posting the definition of satire and then “breaking it down” in this article. I think this tactic, while informative, has also ruined by The Internets, especially by “activist” YouTubers milling about in e-drama.
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This subject hits especially close to home because the sudden “subjective” definition of satire is the entire reason this site exists in the first place. I had someone describe the article “What I Didn’t Learn From All These ‘What I Learned From’ Articles” as “over the top” and essentially outlined the literal definition of satire as they rejected it’s satirical nature and that it wasn’t humorous. Which is also in and of itself subjective.

It was in this exchange then over the past few months of exploring what satire means and what it has become these days that I learned that satire had become infinitely more subjective.

Many things don’t offend me, but high on my list of things to find offensive is humorlessness. Moreover, to find so many self-appointed gatekeepers of what “is” and “isn’t” has become intolerable.

Not content to just infect satire, we suddenly find what “is” and “isn’t” humorous under fire. Stand-up comedy has long had it’s battles with political correctness, but to have people who know absolutely nothing about joke telling or humor try to break down and analyze comedy is…again…absurd. You don’t find something funny? That’s fine…it’s just not for you, find those things you find funny and enjoy them.
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It’s in this constant policing of everything that we find ourselves accidentally mired in the culture wars that exist on the peripheries on any given topic. You go to defend your favorite comedian from a bunch of internet asshole SJWs…or hell just say that you enjoy said comedian…and now you’re a Rush Limbaugh listening, Reagan loving, right-wing asshole! Discussion over…you’ve been labeled.

As someone who likes to think of themselves as a satirist, I find the lack of humor disturbing. We can’t be taking ourselves so seriously as to not enjoy the humor to be found in rigidity of any ideal or construct.

More to the point, if you need to take a timeout and explain to your audience you’re “participating” in satire then you’re not only doing a disservice to your audience but also the great legacy of satire. You should probably stick to just being “for real” outraged or “telling it like it is” and bloviating in that safe space echo chamber with your ditto head idiot followers.

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Satire Is Dead…Long Live Satire

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