The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject (individuals, organizations, states) often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. In Celtic societies, it was thought a bard's satire could have physical effects, similar to a curse. A satirist is one who satirizes.

Satire is not exclusive to any viewpoint. Parody is a form of humor that imitates another work of art in an exaggerated fashion for comic effect, usually deriding the subject of the parody in the process. Although the techniques of satire and parody often overlap, they are not synonymous. Satires need not be humorous - indeed, they are often tragic - while parodies are almost inevitably humorous. Parodies are imitative by definition, while satires need not be. Humorous satires often base the humor on the juxtaposition between the satire and reality. The main intent of satire is political, social, or moral and not comic. The humor of such a satire tends to be subtle , using irony and deadpan humor liberally.

Notable examples of satire

Satire in Pop Culture and Public Media

Some works of satire are subtle enough in their exaggeration that they still seem believable to many people. The satiric nature of these works may be lost on the public at large, and there have been instances where the author or producers of a satirical work have been harshly criticized as a result. In 2002 the British network Channel 4 aired a satiric mockumentary entitled Paedogeddon in the Brass Eye series, which was intended to mock and satirize the fascination of modern journalism with child molestors and paedophiles. The TV network received an enormous number of complaints from members of the public, who were outraged that the show would mock a subject considered by many to be too "serious" to be the subject of humor. The movie This is Spinal Tap, a spoof of rockumentaries, about a fictitious and ridiculous hard rock band was mistaken for a non-fiction by some critics.

On occasion, satire can cause social change when used to make a political or social point (although simply revealing absurdities to the public, as opposed to the quality of the satire, may be the actual cause of any consequences). For instance, the comic strip Doonesbury satirized a Florida county that had a racist law that minorities had to have a passcard in the area; the law was soon repealed with an act nicknamed the Doonesbury Act. In the 2000 Canadian federal election campaign, a Canadian Alliance proposal for a mechanism to require a referendum in response to a petition of sufficient size was satirized by the television show This Hour Has 22 Minutes so effectively that it was discredited and soon dropped.

Satire enjoyed a renaissance in the UK in the early 1960s with the Satire Boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, David Frost, Eleanor Bron and Dudley Moore and the television programme That Was The Week That Was.

Last updated: 10-24-2005 10:08:07
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