“Satire is a sort of glass,” wrote Irish satirist Jonathan Swift, “wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own.” Though Swift's brand of satire existed primarily in literature, the spirit of his satirical glass continues today in many everyday examples of satire. Satire exists as a way to ridicule and critique the follies of humanity. Through its heavy use of sarcasm and irony, contemporary satire is a sort of glass that reveals some of the sillinesses of modern life.
TV & Film
Perhaps two of the more recognizable satirical mediums, television and film satires lampoon everything from politics and public officials to interpersonal relationships to the mediums of TV and film themselves. Common examples of TV and film satires include news parody programs such as "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," shows or films that spoof a particular genre such as "Family Guy" or "Robot Chicken" and sketch comedy shows such as "Saturday Night Live."
Ranging from the bitingly critical to the inanely goofy, satire in music can critique its targets through its music or its lyrics. Parody artists such as Weird Al Yankovic, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine and Mark Russell craft catchy parodies or homages to popular songs with goofy lyrics. On the other hand, more serious acts such as Pink Floyd and Eminem craft elaborate satirical albums with acerbic social and political commentary.
An emerging medium, video games have transformed from simple entertainment into a more elaborately developed artistic form. As such, there are several video game titles that have a richly developed sense of satire inherent in their storylines. The Fallout series of games explores life in a cartoonishly crafted post-nuclear apocalypse world in which the remnants of the past world poke fun at 1950s American idealism. Similarly, the Grand Theft Auto series parodies highly stylized and glamorously violent films from the 1980s and '90s such as “Scarface,” “Goodfellas” and “Boyz in the Hood.”
As with video games, Internet-based satire is an emerging medium. In addition to Internet-based forms of traditional satirical cartoons such as XKCD and The Oatmeal, there are entire websites built around satirical premises. Encyclopedia Dramatica and Urban Dictionary provide humorous parodies of information-based sites such as Wikipedia and web-based dictionaries respectively. Similarly, The Onion’s website not only provides biting political and social satire through its news stories, but also provides a broad spoof of online news consortium sites such as Huffington Post and Drudge Report.
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images