Satire’s Last Laugh?

Laughter USMC-19416Are satirists about to be pink-slipped because people are finding it too difficult to distinguish fact from fiction?

The news that Facebook is testing the use of “satire” tags to help readers tell the difference between genuine news and satirical articles (à la The Onion) suggests that lampoonists should start looking for a new line of work.

If folks can’t recognize a spoof when they see one, is there any point in continuing to write this type of comedy?

It’s understandable that people are becoming desensitized to parody. We live in an age where a young woman called Snooki vomited her way to fame and fortune, and the job of a lawmaker is not to make laws.

In this Alice in Wonderland world of Fox News sound bites and attack ads we stretch the truth so much that it seems to have lost its breaking point. These days it’s always open season for torturing facts; no need for redacted government reports here.

Moreover, our micro attention spans distract us when truth is on the rack. There’s little time to step back and digest an outrageous factoid before the next one appears on our plates for quick, fast-food consumption. And today’s 24×7 news cycles serve an endless buffet of well cooked news.

Maybe every bulletin should come with a truth health warning label, and a list of ingredients that details every “fact” and coat of sugar that’s been added to the story.

Above all, however, satirists should not quit; they need to adapt to a world where the idea that fact is stranger than fiction seems almost quaint. To do that they must be even better at their craft, because highlighting society’s absurdities and falsehoods through parody is needed more than ever.

But they have to figure out the future quickly, before every media outlet labels every piece of writing and Irony leaves the building.

Photo: Wikimedia

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8 thoughts on “Satire’s Last Laugh?”

  1. We need satire and we need people who are smart enough to recognize it when they see it.

    As for taking satirists literally, the same thing happens to us non-satirical humor writers. People don’t realize that we both lie and exaggerate because we make things a lot funnier that way.

  2. It is very hard to do comedy when the audience takes everything you say literally. Sort of kills the punch line. My old partner and I used to call these people Jonny Literal-Heads.

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