my point is this: the use of satire requires a degree of intellectual sophistication-it’s not for dummies. with the understanding that satire is a literary tool, which can be used to engage the viewer’s mind to examine an ugly reality, for the purposes of then changing that reality for a better one – with that understanding, satire can advance humankind.
if the viewer does not have this degree of sophistication, then satire does not exist, regardless of the intention of the performer!
my other point is: the world has become too dumb for satire, although almost all art and commentary contains satire as a de facto element. so, the effect is actually NOT positive change, but rather ribald mockery of the weak.
you see, my generation, and the generation before mine (the 60’s!), grew up with satire. we actually read a magazine called National Lampoon, whose title is lost on subsequent generations, because they dont’ know the word lampoon (to my point). and our generation invented Saturday Night Live, for crying out loud.
for at least 100 years prior to the 60’s – I’m not being exact here – satire was virtually non-existent in the social mind. Beginning with the stark suppression of the Victorians, the order of the day was to avoid social commentary of any kind. of course, satire was invented by Plato, so there have been generations and generations steeped in satire. just try the late baroque (Voltaire).
but that’s because satire is comprehensible in a time of social change for the better. it must be for the better, however. vacuous social change – the kind we have now – can not recognize satire.
I began to worry about this years ago when “The Simpsons” was discovered by prime time. Matt Groening was at that point the most brilliant satirist of our time (IMHO). But, he was satirizing “in safety.” In other words, the part of society he was critiquing would never see his show. I mean, he is from Portland – everybody in Portland is a blithering intellectual (almost – once again, don’t get stuck). When it started hitting the Tracey Ullman show in 1987, I mean, c’mon – the people who even knew about Fox in those days you could count on Anne Boelyn’s right hand!
Imagine then that 10 years later, I’m sitting in a mobile home in Iowa, drinking PBR with a pudgy guy with male balding pattern, who works in a dangerous chemical factory, where he eats his lunch – and his laughing his ass off at Homer Simpson! Meanwhile, his skateboarding son is doing crack in his bedroom, and his wife is getting her hair done.
I mean, wake up dude! That’s you on the screen, living the American <pipe> dream! You are not supposed to laugh at that!
But then it got worse: two social savants appeared out of nowhere, to totally take the American society to a new depth of understanding: Tray and Matt. South Park totally scared me. This was full-on, and nobody got the horror of it! Do you see? Everybody got the hate of it, everybody got the porn of it, the depravity. But that’s not getting it.
My final point: it like taking the prophet for the comedian, and the comedian for the prophet.