by Josh Bowman. Josh Bowman is a professional fundraiser, story-teller, comedian, and blogger. He has worked and consulted in Vancouver, New York, and now Toronto for almost a decade. Josh also runs and writes for tenthingsivelearned.com, and improvises around Toronto, including regular shows with Opening Night Theatre.
I am writing this post as a response to an article that Jasmine Peterson wrote in response to an article I wrote in a response to an article that Mark Radcliffe originally wrote. Jasmine much more eloquently addresses her concerns with my piece than certainother writers who were (thank heavens!) equally concerned. My hope is that this post will create a giant, meta black hole that will collapse the internet in on itself, leaving nothing but the remains of charred servers.
My synopsis of Jasmine’s thesis is taken (roughly) from her article, as follows:
“While I love satire, I do think that satire in and of itself can be extremely problematic…I think this is one of the biggest dangers of this literary form, because too many people interpret these statements at face value, without realizing the author’s true intentions.”
Her thesis is interesting, as it to some extent echoes other discussions which have been happening online. The question becomes, what happens to a joke (and joke-teller) when the audience isn’t in on a joke? When do you stop being ironic, and begin embodying traits you previously identified as repellent? Read more
A few days ago on the Good Men Project, a couple of articles were published that praised women of a particular bust size. The first was a(n incredibly offensive) diatribe on the ‘perks’ of small breasts. In response to this, Josh Bowman replied with his tongue-in-cheek piece praising the qualities of large-breasted women.
While his satirical response is really very witty and clever, it is not immediately clear that it is satirical. And, while I love satire, I do think that satire in and of itself can be extremely problematic.
Satire, although I fully appreciate it, is a tricky thing. It requires its audience to be capable of discerning that it is, in fact, a satirical statement that is being made. And, had I not known ahead of time that this was satire, I may not have picked up on it immediately and would have instead been rather offended.
When satire is too subtle (or even when it’s not so subtle, but its audience isn’t able to discern that that is what it is), people believe it, buy into it, and then the satire is just reinforcing that which it is intending to ridicule or expose. I think this is one of the biggest dangers of this literary form, because too many people interpret these statements at face value, without realizing the author’s true intentions.
A perfect example of this was an article posted at The Onion about a year ago; it was an article lampooning the attack on women’s reproductive rights and on Planned Parenthood in the United States. It was so obviously over the top that I couldn’t imagine anyone taking it seriously – but they did. So, while I love this literary technique, I also recognize that often it only does what it is meant to do for those who already ‘get it’. Read more