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A Case For Satire: Subtly Bold Statements

Poking fun at politics, society and some unfortunate individuals (try Googling ‘David Cameron satire’, you won’t be disappointed) is a notion by any stretch that isn’t brand new. Above is one example, but what is it about this image that strikes to make it so interesting? Is it the fact it is a humorous portrayal of our political system? Or the fact people might say it’s very much a reality? You could say that these two possibilities put forward are one and the same: in some ways they are because the art is interesting, at first glance it is simply an take on how the country could be ran, but seems first and foremost how the country is ran. With humour comes truth, that’s why we find something – including Banksy’s art – so amusing. This image is one example of satire, and in this article I will accumulate the advantages and disadvantages of its function and whether or not, given recent events, if it has been taken too far.

Satire is All Around

Do you think you’ve not seen satire before the Charlie Hebdo attacks, or that it’s a rarity in the media? Think again – satire exists all around us: in local new papers, (usually toward the back, those funny little sketches are most probably satire) in literature, in art (see above) and on television. It engulfs us, so is now the time to exercise such a medium with caution?

One example is Family Guy – the late night feast of entertainment on the brink of midnight on BBC Three – Seth McFarlane really knows how to pick at politics and society. This particular example points a judgemental finger at the law and justice system in America (and the same could more than probably be said for Britain too) – its appearance is short but in all honesty, it doesn’t require an explanation – you just get it. I smirked and laughed, wondering how I’d never thought of something so brilliantly simple. The power of satire is not to shout from the rooftop, but to march in protest with a small, handmade banner that does all the screaming for you.

famFamily Guy, ‘The Simpsons Guy’

Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is incredibly smart and plays with satire in a credible way, as well as technology. Sometimes it’s quite daunting that television so wisely twists our society, but manages to retain concepts that aren’t so widely spoken of.

Free Speech or Cautious Speech?

Was the statement that the satirical magazine was undoubtedly trying to convey a step too far? The recent shooting that took place in Charlie Hebdo headquarters has aided the assembly of this particular point. A statement was supposedly made during the fatal shooting which took place on Wednesday 7th January: “do not insult us, we will take action,” one could translate from such an act – an inhumane statement to say the least. Freedom gives you the entitlement to say what you will, but freedom is not to raise a deadly weapon to another man or woman.

But is this now the price to pay for the assurance of free speech? Should we caution ourselves, or is that giving into the threat such people pose?

Does this halt satire in its progressive tracks? The marvel of such a genre is to speak freely, but also to generate change. The dystopian genre, Animal Farm by George Orwell and A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess are two examples, merging well with the genre of satire, presenting a world utterly tenebrous and oppressive, which of course, is something we want to stop ever occurring. Though these novels produce situations we would all desire to avoid, are they not metaphorical for what could happen in a very near future? There may be a limit to freedom of speech, and perhaps that it why when some forms of satire are produced, they retain an essence of subtleness. Of course, if they don’t – what then? Can we expect our lives to be threatened? This should be far from the case, but sadly, it is. You can see the dystopian elements already slipping into the world we live in.

“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future…” – Master Yoda

The aftermath of the shooting brought together a nation – a world – pushed to the brink, standing together against acts of terrorism. You tell me which act will resonate more with the masses. Never give in to terrorism, condemn the acts that took place that day, and any acts before and after. When a vast and intelligent species in the distant future comes to Earth to learn about a once great race known as the Humans, don’t give them any reason to think we’re arseholes. Say what you will, but be aware of the consequences. Is that freedom? Who knows…

Has satire been shouting too loudly lately? One thing is for certain, no matter how you perceive recent events, or this article, you cannot deny that satire honours the palpability that paper will infamously always – always – beat rock.

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