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18th Century Satire

We often think of Satire as being a "modern" invention. Or, at least, that is what our minds usually jump to. For instance, the satirical Chandler Bing from Friends, who constantly uses second-degree humor to articulate his points or arguments.

By analyzing Satirical works from earlier periods of our history, we might be able to understand Satire better. A good place to start could be Jane Collier’s An Essay on the Art of Ingeniously Tormenting! It gives advice to people in positions of power on how to torment their servants, companions, or even husbands, better. In short, what we nowadays would call emotional abuse.

Is there power in writing Satire? Is it more effective than using first-degree?


    Does Don't Look Up do it's job as a satire?

    Adam McKay, one of the great modern comedy feature writers (Step Brothers, The Big Short, Anchorman), has stirred up controversy with his latest Oscar nominated feature, Don’t Look Up. In a world that appears to be going more and more insane with each passing day, the premise of Don’t Look Up should be the type of concept that resonates with the majority of the population. And looking at its success with the Oscar nomination and its popularity on Netflix, clearly it did. It narrowly missed the streaming service’s record for the highest watch time of a film in its opening 28 days, at 360 million hours.

    So then, how does a film this so well-perceived by the Academy and popular with the masses manage just 55% on Rotten Tomatoes, 49% on Metacritic, and a relatively underwhelming 7.2 IMDb? The feature isn’t perfect, and perhaps the star-studded cast and wealth of talent behind the scenes had some expecting the impossible. But gripes over story and weren’t what prompted such an adverse response from reviewers. Something else that’s rubbed a portion of viewers the wrong way. In creating this satire, Adam McKay poked the bear and pissed off the very people he’s trying to appeal to: climate change deniers. Negative reviews of this film almost always circle back to the same critique, which is the perception that McKay is attempting to preach true knowledge to his (it’s not exclusive to them, but for simplicity’s sake) conservative audience that they are laughably naïve and easily swayed by politicians that would sacrifice them in a heartbeat to turn a profit.

    To come to a conclusive judgement on whether Don’t Look Up hits or misses the mark of a great satire, we must do an objective deep dive into its character. Does it hit too close to home for people to accept, or is it simply so absurd that we can’t help but laugh at it, and not in the way McKay intended?

    • I would love to read a piece on this, actually. I think it's a conversation worth having, especially in this current climate. No, the film isn't perfect, but it shows a lot of how imperfect we are as humans and how much we depend on each other to survive. Also, let's talk about the elephant in the room - the disgustingly rich, who I'm sure will be on the first spaceship out of here if sh*t hits the fan. So, yeah, it hits too close to home. – Dani CouCou 2 years ago
    • This is good. An article can address issues such scientific methods and how TV addresses them-usually poorly with an audience really not understanding or appreciating the rigor that goes into any scientific process. Certainly, the movie had me thinking of Covid and the denialism surrounding it for, unfortunately, many. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
    • NO IT DOES NOT. It's a virtue signaling piece of media to make Hollywood elites feel better about their moral degeneracy and their lack of action to do anything about the decline of the quality of life for most of America (and the rest of the world). I wonder how much money they spent on this that could have gone to any other cause, and I wonder how much damage they did to the environment with whatever transportation/labor/provisional requirements it took to create the movie. On top of being hypocritical, it's just bad. – lilikleinberg 2 years ago
    • Satire is at its best when it confronts us with our complicity in a broken system. The context of Don't Look Up amidst the Climate Wars and Trump's America means that it is all too easy to blame problems on the other side of the partisan divide. It is possible that any partisan could view the film as a stinging critique of 'the other side' and emerge unchanged themselves. The irony of this film is that it reproduces the conditions it seeks to critique. – acwright 2 years ago