|A Modest Novel; Or Bundy University; or There's No Boredom in the Board Room; or, It's Such a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever
11/26/2010: A Modest Novel; Or Bundy University; or There's No Boredom in the Board Room; or, It's Such a Fine Line Between Stupid and Clever
Surprisingly, some people don't seem to understand the characteristics of the satire form. At the risk of being too academic, allow me to briefly review satire for those readers who may have slept through a literature course, or god forbid, never had a literature course, in college.
The art of satire often has been woefully under-appreciated, in part because people sometimes just can't get the joke. Usually the people who can't get the joke are the ones being satirized. Frankly, the joke in satire is usually transparent. Typically, the jokes can be found across this range:
1) Preposterous Premises: "I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked or broiled." (Jonathan Swift, "A Modest Proposal").
2) Outrageous events: A judge from a popular TV court show somehow gets nominated to the Supreme Court. (Christopher Buckley, "Supreme Courtship")
3) Silly character names: Brigadier General Jack Ripper, President Merkin Muffley, Colonel Bat Guano, Lieutenant Luther Zogg. ("Dr. Strangelove")
4) Mostly two-dimensional characters: Tim Robbins' portrayal of politician Bob Roberts in the movie of the same name.
5) Twisting of convention to make it stand on its head: The family room setting of "Married with Children," which evoked the living rooms of dozens of sitcom families, ranging from "Leave It To Beaver" through "Bewitched" through "The Cosby Show," as well as the wacky next door neighbors, which in the twisted world of the Bundys, are actually the normal ones.
6) Broad-based humor, often bordering on slapstick: "But it goes to eleven"; "you can't really dust for vomit"; "I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water." ("This Is Spinal Tap")
7) Humor that has an undercurrent of anger, often descending into dark comedy: Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five."