Satire, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak, bad, etc. It is humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc. Satire is usually used as motivations or plot devices for stories in literary and film media, mostly used to get a few laughs in and to make people think and talk at the same time.
When satire misses it mark in any narrative, intentional or purposeful, and becomes neither funny nor thought-provoking, it shows up as an insult that mostly only privileged people fun hilarious. The satire argument is when people defend such offensive jokes in the mainstream, claiming it be “just satire”.
The American mainstream media factory continuously manufactures and distributes entertainment in the name of satire. The only concern is that most of the factory workers, and their bosses, are straight white males from the left. As such, most mainstream comedies are modeled for their amusement. What we find out there when we go to the movies or turn on the TV are stories and sketches that are supposed to mock society’s isms and phobias. However, a good chuck of those turn being part of the “other” into a punchline that seems never get old.
Take Seth MacFarlane’s animation empire on Fox. He has made a fortune in producing three animated sitcoms: Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. All three shows are among Fox’s most popular programs. And all three rely heavily on MacFarlane’s brand of dark, blue-collar humor of fart jokes. gruesome violence and cutaway gags.
However, most of MacFarlane’s projects never tire on using white liberal humor that makes fun of anyone that is not straight, white and male. While some may argue that the real target for ridicule is aimed at American society, especially how white people think and act, the laughs are mostly aimed towards those who fit outside that exclusive box for straight, white American males only. Beyond that are jokes about women, people of color, foreigners, non-Christians and gays o’plenty.
Recently on Twitter, we saw Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report tried to poke fun at the current controversy surrounding Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins and his creation a foundation for Native Americans while still maintaining the name for his football team. But Colbert’s attempt at satire took a wrong turn when he tweeted about creating a foundation for Asian Americans called the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Activist Suey Park caught wind of this, and a firestorm was ignited by the hashtag #cancelcolbert.
The controversy surrounding Colbert, Park and skit and tweets inbetween has still being debated with people talking sides on who’s the most wrong. Some will say that all parties involved got it wrong. But this attempt of satire, no matter how screwed up it is, has definitely got people talking, especially with how to approach social issues with a sense of humor.
Satire is hard to achieve, and without a doubt, you have to be clever as hell to get people laughing and thinking at the same time. It can’t simply be dismissed as “just” satire. White liberals in mainstream circuits use racism as a punchline for their comedy routines. But can bringing laughter to society’s problems really spark any hope of change? Is it supposed to invoke change? On the contrary, it seems to help desensitize an already insensitive public. And that’s no laughing matter.