Brittney Stewart

Special Education Aide, education

This conversation is closed.

What role does satire play in today's society?

Throughout history, we've had a Modest Proposal, by J. Swift, Candide by Voltaire, what role does Satire continue to play in the world we live in. Does it impact government, or society as a whole? How important is it?

  • thumb
    Oct 9 2011: Satire is a lovely firestarter of sorts and a clever way to inform and challenge popular ideas. It's a potent device that casts such ideas in a different light and forces pause, reflection and even reconsideration.

    Sometimes it remains as the only path to take. Colbert and Stewart et al. are masters of brilliantly executed political satire, touching upon the collective hypocrisy of some very prevalent and stringent ideas of our time: ultra-nationalism and moral righteousness, just to name a few.

    Satire will inspire some, and it'll offend some. Such is life. It's not easy being the perpetrator of a damaging ideal, only to have a mirror held up with the ugliest parts of our humanity reflected back.

    I also feel it appears undervalued as well. The nature of satire is to make a comical incision at popular beliefs that forces people to look. It's not just limited to political satire, of course. But because it is aimed at popular beliefs and ideals, and even dogmas, thus it is fated to get discouraged or discredited by mass consent.

    Again, like all great stories ever told and great speeches ever delivered, satire is another tool to inspire and educate. Delivering and manifesting lasting change is a different story though.
  • thumb
    Oct 9 2011: Satire is a fantastic tool in that it allows educated comics to assist the uneducated or uninformed audience to accomplish the mental journey necessary to understand the flaws of, say, a Presidential Candidate.

    The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and even more immature Shows like South Park or Family Guy exemplify this perfectly. John Stewart may not seem like a modern day Voltaire, but he affects his audience in a similar way - He opens their eyes so that they may see the blatant errors our society makes.
  • thumb
    Oct 13 2011: Your topic reminds me of a quote by John Cleese (of Monty Python fame):

    “If I can get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge its truth.”

    Satire opens peoples' minds to ideas they might otherwise reject outright, using the emotional lever of humor. Therein lies tremendous value.
  • thumb
    Oct 12 2011: I think it is one of the best ways of criticizing the society and having fun as well, it is a wonderful thing.My personal favorite is George Carlin, although I am not sure what he would have said in this case.

    Just a small side note , we had a hot debate in here about Education and oddly enough many people pointed out things that George Carlin said in his stand up almost ten years ago.
  • thumb
    Oct 12 2011: I think satire is a sort of barometer of where a culture and the political life of a country are at. The Johnathon Swifts and Colberts and Dailys spring up when society needs to express itself in a safe but diffused manner. Poking fun at something exposes it without incurring the wrath of the powers that be for they cannot be seen to be unable to 'take a joke'.
  • thumb
    Oct 11 2011: Satire is a very fine and delicate intellectual instrument. There are just a few exceptional individuals who know very weel how to use. Is extremly importan in the critical thinking and in the social construction. But is a very rare bird in our jungle.
  • Oct 10 2011: Satire is certainly important and I think it can play many roles. It can ease tension and fear when appropriate. I remember an astronaut talking about working outside the space station on the side away from the sun. As the earth revolved, the sun was going to disappear and their batteries were getting low. They decided to go inside but to take a last look at the stars and see if they could find a bearing. What happened next shook them to the core. They found the blackness to be so black, so deep, so looming up, over and around them in an enveloping manner, that they began to perceive it as oh, moving? throbbing? breathing?, but somehow watchful of them and almost alive.
    They said the fear began to really grow and they could feel the icy feet of it as it raced up their spines and threatened to take over their minds. One finally said, "Wow, now that's what I call dark", and it broke the spell.

    On the other hand, evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers has studied deception and self-deception for a long time. He found that satire can be a sign of significant self-denial in the person using it. That can be in the form of a joke, done jokingly, but a joke can also be very sarcastically or satirically presented or used. This is a form of self-deception which is used to enable one to become better at deception and this can become an ugly cyclical thing for ones psyche.

    It can also be used to show another their shortcomings or reveal or evoke a response to a bit too much hubris. I certainly have had this experience used on me more than once and it usually works. I learn from it.

    Unfortunately perhaps, satire doesn't always reveal the truth. It can be used to cover it up, to rebel or deny the light of truth so that today it seems to me that those who are willing and courageous enough to actually speak the truth are attacked as though they have done something wrong, been sarcastic or satirical and that means bad manners. I think this is a very sad thing. Oh, I don't know.
  • thumb
    Oct 9 2011: I agree, The Daily Show and the Colbert Report are great shows, but let's also not forget South Park. They've used satire to ridicule anyone and anything around the world and have gotten increasingly good at doing that. Having said this, I think that yes, satire still does play an important role, at least for people who think freely.
    Naturally, if you are limited by dogmas and fix beliefs you will only get offended and won't understand or accept the underlying message, that's the big problem we are facing today.
    Here in Germany for example, many topics that should be used in satire are taboo because after all we all want to be politically correct in this day and age. It's this narrowmindedness that poses the biggest problem to satire, but then again, hasn't it always been this way?
  • thumb
    Oct 8 2011: I think several prime examples of satire today are Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and The Onion New Network, which have profound political effects; I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity, hosted by Jon and Colbert. There were thousands and thousands of people from all over the country gathered on the mall.

    Literature such as Slaughterhouse-five by Kurt Vonegut and Hitchhikers Guide are often read in school or for pleasure by kids. I know I was affected by both.

    I've found satire has a significant, yet under-appreciated role in shaping our society. It is a powerful means of persuasion. I find it often leads to a more sophisticated approach to understanding the world.
    • thumb
      Oct 8 2011: They're exactly who I'm referring to! I'm so envious, I watched the Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear, and I thought it was just brilliant. When they did the Noone more American than me song, I rewinded it so many times.

      I value very much the fact that I live in a country that not only withstands satire, but encourages it. Too many people in the world are stifled, and unable to criticize their governments.

      It baffles me sometimes that satire is unappreciated in almost inverse proportion to its true significance.
  • thumb
    Oct 13 2011: Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park - satire is alive and well.

    It is very important because it's a great way to disarm those people that take themselves far too seriously.

    I don't think anything impacts government anymore. Those clowns do whatever they like with tax dollars and really only make a (feeble) effort to impress when they want your vote.
  • thumb
    Oct 10 2011: Satire provides commentary on important issues while keeping the heart happy.
  • Oct 10 2011: it has a way of making things easier and lighter even though it still brings out the hardcore facts. its for me an antidote to all the bitterness and callousness to others feelings which usually bear up when pointing out a fact that would usually not be received kindly or light-heartedly.
  • Oct 10 2011: Satire, I find, is the 'safest' way to contradict another person's statements/actions/beiefs. Your words, if you use satire, are seen as insulting, degrading, or uninformed, according to the other person. If you don't make it seem funny, you're gonna get sued, lose your job, or take a fist in the face, eventually, if you don't 'take it back'.Thst being said, It's tremendously important, and profoundly effective, in all areas of life. It gives us all 'release' from the combative stresses society has built around us all. It refreshes our minds, enabling us to re-focus our minds, sometimes to our original point of view, sometimes to another.Let's face it, we all love to laugh.
  • Oct 9 2011: Satire helps expose issues such as injustices, hypocrisy, and tyranny, in a society, that may otherwise be overlooked. Look at Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," for example. He parodied different people's lifestyles and revealed the hypocrisies and injustices plaguing society at that time--primarily through satire.