Satire’s art is in the manner it exposes vice or folly in order to provoke social comment. However, some claim that modern satire goes too far; it offends rather than provokes and, as a result, fails to deliver its intended message.
JE SUIS HYPOCRITICAL: A RECIPE FOR DISASTER
Freedom of Speech is a basic human right, until it’s an inconvenience. Cate MacColl analyses the ingredients of modern satire cooking under fire, and whether or not a justifiable line can be drawn.
The potential impact of satire is undeniable, particularly if one is willing to observe it beyond their isolating borders. Regrettably, developed nations such as Australia, the United States and France, invest so much effort into being politically correct, that the artistic power of satire can become stifled. The freedom to say what one must is ironically more predominant in oppressive regimes, such as Yugoslavia wherein government’s responsibilities to its people are overlooked. This is because here the communication of an idea is of greater importance than avoiding insult. The effectiveness of satire is dependent on the manner in which it is interpreted.
Satire can efficiently expose human folly even (or perhaps especially) when outrage is widely and publicly proclaimed. That is, invoking change and offense being taken tend more towards being dependent than mutually exclusive. The Australian government publically condemned The Chaser for their 2007 stunt in which they “accidentally infiltrated” APEC security. Conversely, the security was reassessed and drastically improved as a direct result of this comedic endeavor, evidently achieving their goal of exposing the absurdity of the inadequate profuse $170 million budget.
This sort of definitive change in society or individuals beliefs is achieved when the satire’s message is effectively communicated. Activist group “Otpor” used satire as their chief weapon in delegitimizing and eventually ousting Slobodan Milosevic as President of the Republic of Yugoslavia. Srdja Popovis, a leader of the movement, said that the effectiveness of the non-violent campaign is attributed to the manner in which satire effectively alienated and broke the fear hold the bureaucratic opposition had, inspiring the tired and apathetic Serbian society.
Before the activism, the lethargic population was discontentedly bound to the status quo of the oppressive regime. Otpor exposed the population to satire through the use of an analogous cake with a delicious touch of trivialization that expressed disdain for the way the country had been cut up and served to the rich. While the members of the mocked body were offended, the population as a whole acquired a new outlook and rebelled, consequently overthrowing the government.
Comedy exists on a spectrum between a cheap laugh of superiority or acceptance of common imperfections, to a shamelessly abusive competitive antagonism. While it is easy enough to convey an observation with low grade humour for the simple minded resulting in the collective chortle of “you totally do that, bro”, satire is supposed to push boundaries in order to force people to closely examine accepted social standards.
Reactions to last months attack on French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo have been largely supportive of the cartoonists. However, the issue of whether or not the cartoon, a prime example of modern satire, surpasses humour to encompass hate speech has been brought into public discourse. A mockery of a core Islamic belief that the prophet Muhammad should not be drawn nor described, the issue that sparked a violent retaliation featured an exaggeratedly ordinary caricature of the icon.…