I don’t know how many times I’ve heard: “That’s not satire. It’s not even funny,” and I want to know where the hell this belief came from. No one mistakes Bradbury as funny, Wells as funny, Swift as funny…okay, maybe Vonnegut is a bit humorous.
I like to think that satire includes humor, but to say that it’s all inclusive is ridiculous. Satire’s intent is to comment on society and exaggerate it to make a point or facilitate an argument. We’re meant to question ourselves, our behaviors, and our world.
Granted, after a discussion with my husband, I concede that all satire does have a sense of dark humor—as in, that tickling moment when you know exactly what the author is referring to—but that’s not to mistake the story or content as funny.
Most satire creates moral outrage through this level of awareness, using various literary elements, such as irony, paradox, colloquialism, anticlimax, obscenity, and violence. But the most essential is creating vividly painful and absurd people and situations to prod readers to see the truth that many habitually ignore.
We often see this used in narrative and parody. Like my favorites: South Park, Archer, The Simpsons, and the majority of adult cartoons, and maybe cartoons all together, but I’ll refrain from declaring that as an absolute truth. And dystopic fiction, like The Hunger Games, Divergent, Fahrenheit 451, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Giver, I could go on, and on, and on…
Satire is essentially sarcasm. It’s funny to those who get it, so it cannot make us laugh every time. Cognitive dissonance aside, we don’t often like to watch others tap into our faults.
Well, those are the broad strokes. Good thing I’m a sarcastic asshole because satire is most certainly my thing.
It’s up on Amazon, too, but for 99 cents since they don’t like me giving things away for free. But if you want to donate the dollar, I suppose you could do that, too. Or report their greedy need to control the market…you know, either way.
Want to know something more about satire? Want me to examine a specific text or technique, feel free to drop suggestions in the comments below.