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JLeslie's avatar

Should writers stop using political satire?

Asked by JLeslie (56426points) 3 months ago from iPhone

I read an article where it basically was stating that people read outlandish things about political figures and think it’s real and start passing around the information.

I think this is dangerous. Political statire basically is becoming propoganda, and it is helping along the division in the country.

Not that I’m ok with censorship or inhibiting what people can write, but people can control themselves if it’s doing harm.

What do you think? Here’s what I read.

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33 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

It’ll never happen. Writers are going to write, and satire is a time-honored way of expressing thoughts.

And what writer will self censor?

My guess is that satire and lots of it is more likely to lead to regime change in the United States.

mazingerz88's avatar

Political satire has never been more critically necessary than in the deplorable, immoral and idiotic two years of trump so far.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I LOVE political satire!!! It’s the ONLY thing that helps to keep me sane during these trying times!!! I DON’T use it as my “news source”....simply as a way to laugh at a depressing situation!!! With the last 2 years, I’ve found political satire to be the ONLY thing that helps me to stay sane!!! Do you not understand that telling people to “control themselves” IS inhibiting what people can write & IS the same thing as censorship???

rockfan's avatar

I think there’s a major difference between political satire in narrative fiction and the kind of political satire that’s mentioned in the article. I agree that intentional fake news stories in the service of political satire is probably not a good thing in the long run. I don’t find it funny or interesting. Definitely wouldn’t mind if it became unpopular and went away on its own.

LadyMarissa's avatar

If you don’t find it funny or interesting then don’t watch it. That’s how you get things to just go away…NOT by censoring it!!! I have a friend who HATES political satire yet she watches it every night so she can complain about it the next day. I keep telling her that by watching it she’s supporting it because she’s counted in the “network numbers” just like those of us who ENJOY it…the advertisers don’t know that she watches just to hate it!!!

rebbel's avatar

How about educate people to a degree that they can acknowledge what is real and what is fake (or serious news, or satirical)?
Next thing you’ll know is that humor gets banned.

elbanditoroso's avatar

You can’t educate people who want to remain ignorant.

rebbel's avatar

Start early.

ucme's avatar

No, absolutely not!!
Nothing should be above satire & anyone who believes in limits is an easily offended muffin.

kritiper's avatar

If someone can’t see through the satire, they deserve to be duped. Bring it on!

stanleybmanly's avatar

Once again, satire can only be understood as such by those capable of recognizing it in the first place. In the end, the only hope for discerning fake news from reality lies with an informed and knowledgeable public.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@stanleybmanly while I agree with you in principle, the reality is that we will never have an informed and knowledgeable public – either because they are not interested in being informed, or because they are incapable of understanding.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No they should not stop writing satire. They shouldn’t even stop writing fake news. What should happen is the American people should start showing signs of intelligence above and beyond an 18 month old.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’ve said this since the early 2000s, schools should teach media studies so that kids can learn how to navigate the ins and outs of news, pop culture, and now social media.

Don’t get rid of satire, just teach people how to consume it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We do teach “fact from fiction,” starting in kindergarten. But the parents, and the culture, can completely undo whatever we teach them at school. If the parents are conspiracy nuts, their kids will be to.

I was trying to teach science to a 5th grade class the other day. One kid kept trying to start arguments with me over the age of the earth and so on.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Even as a child, I understood satire from reality & I was raised by parents who didn’t appreciate satire. It was funny at the time. It’s only been recently that I’ve discovered that I “needed” satire in order to maintain a mental balance. In laughing at the BS put forth by the satirist, it relieves some of the tension created by the stress inducer. Even when I don’t agree with the entertainer, I can laugh at the situation!!! I don’t think ANYBODY should be told to stifle themselves just because somebody else doesn’t agree with them!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

The Onion. Need I say more?

Demosthenes's avatar

Well, we have all kinds of ridiculous warning labels on products to prevent the dumbest of idiots from doing things they never should be doing in the first place. So maybe similar warnings are needed on political satire.

Soubresaut's avatar

I read or heard somewhere that political satire isn’t necessarily that effective at changing someone’s perspective. There was some study where people were shown a political satire show (specifically The Colbert Report). In this case the dividing line was between “liberal” and “conservative,” though I use those terms in the most general sense—in the study, the participants were self-reported liberal and conservative. Colbert’s “ambiguous deadpan satire” was interpreted differently depending on a person’s already-held perspectives. Self-reported liberals tended to view Colbert as satirizing conservative perspectives by taking on the persona of a hyper-conservative speaker. Self-reported conservatives tended to view Colbert’s statements as beliefs he really did hold. Both groups found the show just as funny as the other—the only difference, to paraphrase, was the perception of who was the intended butt of the joke (broadly speaking, whether it was “liberals” or “conservatives”). (Summary of study)

It’s just one study of one particular show, so it certainly doesn’t condemn all satire as ineffective, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind. Also important to note, the study is not demonstrating that one group of people is better at “getting” the jokes Colbert made—he definitely intended the show to be interpreted one way, but that doesn’t mean the show is effective at conveying that intention. Instead, the study seems to simply show that our already-held beliefs and perspectives influence the way we interpret and understand satire (or at least this particular version of satire).

Looking for a link to a summary of the study, I came across this article from Brown Political Review. I thought it offered an interesting perspective on this topic. Near/at the end the writer says: “comedy like Colbert’s can be an anesthetic. It’s a distraction that both perpetuates political polarization and undercuts critical reflections. . . . Comedians do not have to change the world; they cannot replace mainstream news, and should not attempt to do so. But the power and influence of late-night mean that Colbert, and other comedians, may not be able to afford to simply ‘make people feel better’ anymore. They may need to hold themselves to a higher standard and shoulder more responsibility. Malcolm Gladwell was right when he said, ‘Satire works best when the satirist has the courage not just to go for the joke.’ When that courage fails, the laughs can continue, but hosts and audiences pay by letting principles become punchlines.”

I don’t think writers should necessarily stop using satire, they just might have to be smarter about the way they do it, and/or more cognizant of the effect their satire actually has, rather than the effect they hope it has.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’ve never felt that satire was written to “change” my beliefs. Instead, I’ve always seen it as a way to point out the ridiculousness of the situation & laugh at it. Nobody enjoys being the brunt of a joke; however, some people are more graceful at it than others!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think satire is really meant to sway audiences. It’s mostly for entertainment.

flutherother's avatar

Political satire is all that is keeping me sane these days. It isn’t propaganda, it is humour which is the opposite of propaganda.

mazingerz88's avatar

Not sure if what John Stewart did during the Bush years was “political satire” but I remember clearly how impressed and touched I was when as a comedian he was the first American I heard mention out loud on TV the thousands of Iraqi civilians who got killed during the US invasion.

I didn’t get to hear any American politician nor journalists talk about those Iraqi civilians being killed except…a comedian. That was real gutsy.

Depending on one’s bias, these political satirists do speak to power and should’t be curtailed.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

Yes. I’m not politically savvy and I’m sure many people in my country share the same sentiment as well. We just want to happilly do our daily business and let the government handle themselves. So long as they don’t do extreme things that impact our lives we’ll typically ignore them. Too bad for the writer, many people literally have no interest (not even an interest to understand such political satire) to be manipulated as political puppets.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Good point @flutherother. Propaganda is seldom, if ever, funny where satire can be hilarious at the right moment!!! When offended by a satirist, I say STOP listening to them!!! I NEVER liked Stephen Colbert because I didn’t have a problem with the causes he was railing against. Now, he is my MAIN therapist & is the ONLY reason I manage to wake up every morning!!! After being beaten down ALL day, I need his slant on the subjects so I can find a reason to laugh!!!

In the beginning, Trevor Noah tickled my funny bone; but, he’s losing his edge so I’m weaning off of him & finding other outlets!!! NOT saying Trevor is wrong on anything he says…just not making me laugh like he used to; so, time for a change!!!

LadyMarissa's avatar

@Dutchess_III The Onion has NOTHING to say that I care to hear; so I DON’T even go there!!! They just are NOT my cup of tea…‘nuf said!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

…Do you know what the Onion is @LadyMarissa?

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’m of the opinion that The Onion is the National Enquirer of fake news!!! I do NOT buy nor read the National Enquirer & I DON’T read the crap posted on The Onion website!!! They claim to be satire but are NOT the type of satire that I find entertaining; so, I’ll let those who enjoy it to support them & that will NOT include me!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

They are satire. There is no “claiming” about it. They never try to be anything but what they are—satire.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Then enjoy your satire…it’s NOT my cup of tea & I refuse to join you!!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not demanding that you “join me.” Above you said you enjoyed satire so I thought you’d enjoy The Onion. IMO, they are the best around, with Borowitz a close second. ..............Wait wait..I forgot SNL!

Dutchess_III's avatar

Found this and thought of you @LadyMarissa. :D

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