The Dark Knight of Comedy
This is not a blog about free speech. All it is, is an introduction to Satire.
You know Satire, you say. Ah! Have you guys had a conversation? Did you get along much? I am guessing not.
Yes, satire will always be the underdog, the ostracized black sheep, the dark knight, if you will, of comedy. Because the nature of satire is to make comical rips in the fabric of the collective hypocrisy that holds together some of the most cherished of our beliefs and ideals, it is fated to get discouraged, disparaged, disliked, discredited by mass consent. It will inspire some, it will offend many. And yet, sometimes satire remains as the only path to take. Because it is a whiplash that forces acknowledgment of uncomfortable truths and reconsideration of long-held beliefs. Because it attempts to open our minds to ideas we might otherwise reject outright and does so insidiously by making us laugh at them. Therein lies tremendous value.
A value we appreciate when satire is wielded against ideas and behaviors that we find ridiculous. We welcome satire when used to portray the pains of interacting with customer service agents. We guffaw with laughter when its acerbic edge is against the fragile botox-held neck of a dumb blonde celebrity. We all champion satire when it is slaying open the decaying decrepit flesh of politicians. Women back satire up when it is used to disparage the male chauvinism prevalent in our society. Men back satire up when it is shredding apart the hypocrisy of the current metropolitan Indian woman who wants equal rights and yet demands the privileges of the weaker sex.
Satire is welcome when the face it holds to scrutiny does not resemble ours.
Wikipedia defines satire as “an artistic form of expression in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.”
You can find satire tasteless. You can find it vapid and vindictive. You have every right to dislike it. Satire is not the friend that stops by to cheer you up on a gloomy day. It is not the office underling who will roll over its back if need be to appease to your sensibilities.
Satire aims to antagonize.
So go ahead and be stirred by it, take affront to it, be goddamn enraged! React. Make a case for your issue. Present to yourself the best arguments you can. And then, do something remarkable. Assess your argument. Notice the loopholes. Acknowledge the things you don’t know all the facts about. Go read. Ponder. Discuss. Learn. Ponder more. Discuss more. See the counter-argument. Assess it. Ponder yet again. Discuss yet again. Then, be the jury that decides on the right stand for you to take on the issue. In the end, it will not matter which side of the issue you find yourself standing on. Wherever it be that you stand, you will be standing on a sturdier foundation of facts and thoughts than you were before. And whichever side it is that you take, you will have a keener appreciation for the perspective of the other side. Satire would have done its job. It would have pushed your mind to react to and thus scrutinize an issue by going too far and toeing the implicit boundaries drawn around the said issue. It would have made you a little more informed, a little more aware, a little more open, and a lot more human.
Yes, meet Satire. It is the hero we deserve and need, even if not one we particularly want.
Originally published at www.qualiaphilia.com on March 20, 2015.