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Satire humorously sheds light on universal truths, human follies

Melissa Hart, Print Editor-in-chief

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Pride and Prejudice and…Zombies?  Yes, Jane Austen’s 19th century tale of social classes and amalgamated relationships is retold while facing a new challenge: an infantry of zombies.  This is just one of many examples of recent renditions of previously told stories with an added twist.

While some may feel that these productions are unoriginal or due to an idle film industry, satirical productions serve to entertain and often extend beneath the surface to reveal social critiques or universal truths.

Parody versus Satire

Parodies, spoofs, send-ups, take-offs, lampoons –no matter the name, are designed for pure enjoyment and humor. A parody is a work created to imitate, make fun of, or discuss another piece of work, whether it be its subject matter, style, author, or characters, by means of satirical emulation.

This form of imitation falls under the umbrella of satire, which is the use of humor, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose or criticize human follies or vices, with particular emphasis on topical issues. However, parodies are not always at the expense of the parodied target, but rather for the purpose of entertainment.  “Not Another Teen Movie” (2001) was not created to criticize or bash young romance movies of the time, but to playfully poke fun at the congruencies and humorous aspects of the stories.

Why is Satire So Entertaining?

It’s quite simple: poking fun at something is one of the easiest yet most fulfilling ways to make people laugh. The brilliance of satire is the added level of sophistication of the viewer having to figure out what exactly is being made fun of. It takes a considerable amount of understanding to uncover the general synopsis of a film, and then an even deeper level of comprehension to be able to uncover its flaws.  Many parodies are far from sophisticated – “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), “Vampires Suck” (2010), “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (1993) – but, to find comedic value in them, one must understand what they are aiming to knock down.

Satirical productions also provide a facet of relatability and familiarity, which further produces a comic effect. An avid viewer of horror films is sure to understand all aspects of the “Scary Movie” (2000-2013) series.

Uses of Satire

One of the most common applications of satire is involving politics. Satire is often employed through political cartoons to highlight issues that are affecting society, or to scrutinize the actions of the government or a political candidate.

While parodies are designed for a more pure comedic effect, satire contains an aspect of moral values. Satire extends beyond comedic value to expose or criticize a work, or reveal universal truths. From Animal Farm by George Orwell, which critiques the misuse of power and the breakdown of political ideologies with its characters as farm animals, to Maus by Art Spiegelman, which reveals the horrors of the holocaust with its characters as cats and mice, events or actions that are considered taboo or not to be spoken of can be scrutinized through satire.

In the satirical film “The Great Dictator,” (1940) Charlie Chaplin impersonates Adolf Hitler for comic effect. The idea of taking something deemed serious and controversial and placing it into a humorous light can create a window of conversation. This medium promotes moral reform in society and provides an opportunity for otherwise taboo topics to be discussed.

New Source of Information

Satire is a comedic technique that will never become old, because the target is always changing. The viewer is constantly engaged, eager to see just how far the envelope will be pushed. Those who often view satirical content may even be more adept to social issues and current events. According to a study conducted by the University of Delaware, those who regularly watched satirical news shows such as “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, and “Last Week Tonight”, felt that they learned more about current events and controversial issues, such as net neutrality, than from traditional news channels such as CNN or Fox News.

Information can also be presented in a fresh, new manner through satire. By exaggerating and pointing out flaws, whether they are from a controversial event or a political candidate, the viewer can gain a new perspective told in an enticing way.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, satirical content reveals the virtue that not everything needs to be taken seriously. People need to realize that humans are prone to error and that vices do not need to be concealed. Perfection does not exist, but comedy does.

The student news site of Stone Bridge High School
Satire humorously sheds light on universal truths, human follies