We Should All Be Writing More Satire

You know what we need? More satire pieces. We don’t have enough satirists writing smart satirical satire. It worked for Jonathan Swift back in colonial England, it can work for today’s contemporary Internet generation. Because let’s face it, there are a lot of touchy topics out there. There’s race. There’s gender. We’ve got differing thoughts regarding political views and religious beliefs. Even dietary restrictions turn into points of contention. Everybody’s got an opinion, and nobody’s afraid of sharing it.

Which is why satire works, because instead of making a straightforward argument that might offend somebody, you can instead use the hilarious power of satire to bring all sides together in laughter. Take the race topic as an example. Do you ever find yourself like I do, a white guy reading online opinion pieces, people’s experiences, back and forth, not really sure who’s right or what small part you might play in the continuing story that is our ever-evolving national racial landscape?

Well, you definitely know what’s wrong, right? There you go, write a satire. Take all of the negative stuff, the backwards nonsense that you know for certain doesn’t fly, and pretend that’s your point of view. All of those outdated and blatantly wrong talking points, the kind of stuff you would never say out loud, tap into that as your satirical muse.

Now you can write about anything, it’s all fair game. It’s satire. Let’s take another example, like gender. I’m a guy, so I can’t really put myself exactly in the situation that a woman can, at the workplace, or on the dating scene. Sure, I can read a woman’s account, but where do I fit in? How is my voice as a man being represented in a discussion about feminism?

I’m not sure. It’s all very nuanced. But I demand to say something, and so I’ll say something ridiculous, like, “All woman should stay home and have babies.” Boom, satire. Wasn’t that funny? Because it’s not true. Right? And then I can really get into it, like I’ll start typing up all sorts of old-fashioned stereotypes, really nasty stuff. But it’s all in good fun, because it’s a satire, and that’s the point, it’s a game of opposites.

You’ll get someone every now and then who simply doesn’t get it, you’ll hear arguments that satire is more than just provoking everybody in an effort to appeal to nobody. But it’s not. The point is to rile people up. You stir the pot, you get everybody excited, and before you know it, a lively debate is born. People are talking about what you had to say. Maybe someone will write a competing satire. The point is that people are exchanging ideas, maybe your argument is even trending. As long as it’s out there, you’ve done your job.

And yeah, you might ruffle some feathers along the way, but that’s the nature of true satire, the shock value is all part of the game. I mean, that’s how you get attention anyway. People aren’t going to click on your link unless you’ve got some sort of a really outrageous headline. Just come out swinging and just when you get everybody really juiced up, it’ll hit them all at once. No, you’re not being an idiot, you’re writing satire. It’s clever. You’re one of the good guys. It works.

Yes, there’s already a lot of satire out there, but I propose that there be even more satire. Because the pressing issues of our time are far too important to be taken totally seriously. Like rising inequality, the question of post-racial racism, that whole gender thing and the constant back and forth about privilege. It’s really difficult to make serious, intelligent arguments about any of this stuff. So why bother? Just say something crazy and laugh it off as a satire. Because it’s really, very funny. And we’re all nailing it. We’re all doing a terrific job at writing lots and lots of really great satire. TC mark

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