When I began this personal quest I didn’t realize there were so many facets to the topic. I became interested because literature often uses satire to show foolishness or vice. I admit I ‘m drawn to it because the late night comedians have had a field day with political satire in the past few weeks. Under the umbrella of free speech and the cloak of their profession, they reach high in their jibs and jabs without repercussion here and elsewhere in the western world. A comedian in the Middle East was recently jailed and later released for his irreverent satire. A comedian in North Korea was recently sent to a hard labor camp. It’s sad when people and nations take themselves so seriously they can’t laugh without fear of repercussion. Life can be absurd at times.
One very vocal use of satire is done on the political stage. Interesting to note, the intelligent mocking of ridiculous politicians isn’t a modern art form. (Though we do possess an unusual abundance to work with). William Shakespeare often poked political fun in his plays. When he said “Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark” the statement had broader meaning than simply Hamlet’s story. He was referring to sinister dealings in politics. Dealings that although unseen, still obviously reeked.
Benjamin Franklin is credited for the first political cartoon in America. He was always using his wit to charm and disarm. I should devote a blog post to him sometime! Ben and his era may have had their absurdities back then, but I’ll wager it was nothing near what we have today. You’ll see a terrific array of political satire delivered through late night TV. Of all of these, I have to say no one does it better than Jon Stewart. It may offend the sensitive viewer. It just makes me laugh, and for that, I appreciate the man’s brilliance more.
Monday — satire as a social statement and instrument of change.
I’m participating in the Trifecta this week.
“I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.”
~ Henry Ward Beecher
We’re also taking part in author Sam Cheever’s Trick or Treat Street contest.
Great prizes at both!
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And coming next….