Friday, October 25, 2013

Ills of Society

Though in modern context satire is just humor, it provides a vessel for people to expose the ills of society without little to no retaliation from the target.  Since humans have varying degrees of intelligence and humour not everyone in society sees what the satirist is trying to expose especially the people who are or have brought the ill upon society. To the people who caused the ill or who are the ill, the satirist seems extremely empathic to their cause but in truth the satirist is mocking them. Therefore most of society sees that the satirist is pointing out a flaw that needs to be remedied and the cause(s) of the flaw, who are the ones most likely to retaliate, do not see that the satirist just put a target on their back(s). That is why satire is used throughout history and use so much today to expose the ills of society.

Satire is very effective because it usually goes over the heads of the people the satirist is insulting. ".... recommend... dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs."(Swift 4). In this passage Swift is suggesting to roast and prepare infants the same as if someone was roasting a pig. Of course the audience would be quite horrified that he is suggesting that they should roast and eat babies as they do pigs. Yet the audience most likely doesn't know that Swift is writing this proposal from a aristocratic standpoint. So as the aristocratic of Ireland and England read this over the tea and crumpets, they most likely think that Swift is a sick, not exactly stable man. Yet Swift is making fun of them for treating the poor no better than pigs and the only thing left in the way of them being equal to pigs is being roasted and eaten. Even though the aristocracy may be mad at him for proposing such a thing but they will not come for his head on a platter because he said that they were no better than baby eaters. "I have been a an American... a young child... a most nourishing and wholesome food..."(Swift 3). Though is seems as if Americans were Swift target in this passage, they are not. Again it is the aristocracy for having such a low view of Americans, as far of the aristocracy of England is concerned Americans are nothing more than savages. Even though most of the Americans immigrated from England not that long ago. The aristocracy thinks that Swift finally provided the evidence they needed to prove just how vile Americans were, they just didn't know how far off mark they were. Satire is quite great at going over the targets' heads yet still getting the rest of society to realize the ill.

Satire connects and stays with society because it's funny. If satire wasn't funny then it would just be a person complaining about what is wrong with the world but it is, therefore people pay attention. On Saturday Night Live they did a skit were they were poking fun at all the rich americans complaining about the new iPhone. They did this by having "factory workers" from the Apple plant in China and comparing the problems they have to deal with to the "first world problems" that the whiny Americans have to deal with (SNL). It was funny because the factory workers were making fun of the first world problems that the americans had to deal with all the while the americans just sat there looking embarrassed and awkward. Even though it did revel the deeper problem that Americans' electronics are made by people who are practically slaves, while they complain about how their iPhones' picture have a weird lighting to them. People will remember that skit because it was funny and may show it to a friend because it is funny. That friend that they showed it to might get the deeper meaning and might do something to change it even if the first person was blissfully unaware there was such a thing as a deeper meaning. This is part of the reason why satire is so effective is because it is humorous people enjoy watching it. If there was just some guy on the tele that was just listing everything wrong with society then most people would hate him because he's boring. Yet with satire people laugh and share it with their friends therefore helping the idea of what the satirist thinks is wrong with society spread. Satire is like a coconut, the hard shell is the humour which is what everyone thinks a coconut is just a hard shell but inside is the seed, the idea. People have to get past the humour to get to the idea about society. Satire is extremely effective because it disguise itself as humour even though it taking a swing at society.

Though it is good because satire goes over the heads of the people it is targeting it is also a problem because it goes over the heads of a lot of people in society too. Like in Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks, though it is trying to expose the outrage spending by governments on trying to outdo one another, most people just think that it's stupid. The reason being that a government would never spend 200 billion pounds on a ministry that's sole purpose to develop and preserve silly walks. The people who view satire and think that are not necessarily wrong but they do not see the forest through the trees heck they don't even see the trees. More like they can't see the forest through the trees through the leafs.  In other words people focus more on what things and people are literally saying than what they could or couldn't be saying. Which is why sometimes satire fails because people think very literally and satire is decently deep. So even though satire is a great tool for exposing the ills of society people have to be aware of who their audience is and what their satire is literally saying.

Satire is a wonderful at showing society its ills. Even though sometime is may go over people's heads it's a great way for common people to voice their concerns about other people in society without getting beheaded (literally and metaphorically). Without satire there wouldn't be as many laughs or as many changes in society. This is why satire has and will still make a big impact on society.

Monday, October 14, 2013


If someone asks you to find a satirical video then present it and watch everyone else satirical videos. Then it really isn't a very taxing project or in class assignment instead it a barrel of laughs and a nice break from the daily lull of things (namely math). In my option everyone did rather well on their presentations even if the video/picture/news article wasn't satirical, it was still funny. Also the presentations helped see the subtle difference between satire and just comedy. It's quite hard to judge which one of the videos is my favorite since I was only there for about four of the presentations. So any favorites drawn from those four would be rather biased since I haven't seen the other twenty some videos. As for my presentation, it went rather well besides the fact that I don't believe many people thought it was funny, which was a bummer because Monty Python is funny if you get "dry" humour. Overall the presentations on satire were rather good and very funny.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Jonathan Swift

Some facts about Mr. Swift...

  1.  At 22, he mentored a girl, Esther "Stella" Johnson, which was rare for the time because girls rarely received educations. 
  2. His father died when he was rather young and his mother couldn't provide for him so he was send to live with his uncle, where he received an education 
  3. It's believed that Swift married Stella when he was rather old but the marriage was not announced for unknown reasons.
  4. Later in his life Swift developed Meniere's Disease, which affects the inner ear and causes hearing loss among other things.
  5. Although Swift was born and spent a good part of his life in Ireland he considered himself an Englishman. 
"Swift has a higher reputation than he deserves. His excellence in a strong sense; for his humour, though very well, is not remarkably good. I doubt whether The Tale of Tub be his; for he never owned it, and it is much above his worldly manner." 
-Samuel Johnson, in James Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791)

"When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy  against him"
-Jonathan Swift 

Merriman, C.D. "Jonathan Swift." - Biography and Works. Jalic Inc., 2008. Web. 08 Oct. 2013.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Ministry of Silly Walks

The literal meaning of this video is actually quite harder to see than the deeper one just because the literal meaning is well... quite silly.  Once you get past the rather cheesy laugh track, the video is saying that there is a government ministry that is devoted to the creation of silly walks. This random unnamed citizen wants to get a grant to develop his silly walk even though according to John Cleese "The right leg isn't silly at all and the left leg merely does forward aerial half turn every alternate step". The unnamed unsilly citizen then explains "With government back I think I could make it quite silly." Then that leads Cleese's character, who is also unnamed, into a rant about how "Last year the government spend less on the Ministry of Silly walks then it did on National Defense." Then keeps ranting about how other countries have better silly walks then their country does. In short these video is about a guy trying to obtain a grant from the Ministry of Silly Walks to further develop his silly walk. All in all the literal meaning is extremely literal and... silly.

Moving right along the deeper meaning of the video is that governments waste a ton of money on worthless, silly programs that don't help the people of the country in any way. Also that the government gives out grants to develop the silliest ideas, like in the video, a silly walk that isn't particularly silly.  John Cleese is playing the character of an upstart person in the silly program that believes that the government should be spending more on the program. You can see these when Cleese is telling the other guy that out of all the ministries that the government has they spend the least amount of money on silly walks even though it is the "most important of all the ministries". Also it's poking fun at the fact that a lot of the money governments spend is in trying to out do each other. When Cleese is talking about the grant he is also brings up the various silly walks that other countries have developed and how comparatively their country is lagging behind. Though I do love space and NASA, it is like the Space Race because there was very little scientific value in sending man to the moon because a rover could do the same and would be a lot cheaper. The reason we did though is to stick it to Russia and prove that we were "superior". I rather like the deeper meaning of these video and believe that it applies to most governments not just the British one (which I'm assuming they are making fun of considering that Monty Python is British)