Sunday, April 12, 2009

Oh, the Satire

This week we saw how political and social satire can be cool when we watched Paul Verhoeven’s action/sci-fi movie RoboCop. To most viewers (like myself most likey) the beauty of such satire would be lost without prior warning that it’s there. Most people watch movies just for the fun of it, not expecting to get a deeper message from the film, especially when it’s something as outrageous as RoboCop. However, once you know to expect a satire, the point the director’s shooting for is obvious. After watching it I found myself looking back trying to see if I had missed the satirical commentary of any other movies.

The first one I came up with was a movie I really wish I had never watched: Team America: World Police. While watching this movie I clearly saw the point the South Park creators were going for, I just never thought to classify it as satire. I must say I wasn’t a huge fan of Team America, but not because it didn’t have a decent message. The movie overdramatized and poked fun at the way America tries to control the world’s terrorist problems by having a group of American global cops and a Broadway actor take of the evil dictator of North Korea. While the movie is funny, ridiculous, and over-the-top, it does make a lot serious comments about American politics and our style of international relations. And while it may not be what we would normally consider cool, I will always find puppet animation cool just because of the effort it takes to make such a movie. I don’t think I got nearly as much from Team America as I did RoboCop, but both movies certainly qualify as political satires in their own special ways.

The other example of satire that immediately came to mind was a website/newspaper that my brother and I are very fond of reading. The Onion never fails to make me laugh with its absolutely ridiculous headlines and stories that poke fun at absolutely everything. At first glance the stories have no literary merit of any kind, but occasionally you can find some very useful social or political commentary. The best example I can think of would be a semi-recent news video they released on the website entitled “Survivors of Gas Station Explosion Mourn Tragic Loss of Gas.” I was laughing ridiculously when I first watched this clip, but afterwards I actually found myself thinking of how true it is because gas prices had gotten so high that people were keeping track of where every drop went. The video really showed how ridiculously frugal some people could be when it came to gasoline. Hopefully the worst of that problem is behind us now, but the video is still really funny (and somewhat disturbing) if you like The Onion’s style of satirical comedy.


  1. Another good satirical source of news is the Daily Show and The COber report. I would have to agree that the news is filled with comedy and if we dont step back and and view it from afar we will just become absurde.

  2. The Onion varies between parody and satire, but it's a good one to point out. I, tragically, have not seen Team America, but I've heard it does a pretty good job of tearing American policy to shreds.

    Good job parsing out the modern-day similarities. Your entries are always enjoyable.