What is "satire" anyway?
April 10, 2013 11:45 AM Subscribe
Last Monday, New Inquiry blogger Aaron Bady audited the word satire and made it clear
. He wrote, "If something is not taken to be satire, it fails as satire. [It's] an effect, and everything depends on how the joke is received, what the author intended, what the circumstances were in which it was made, and so on."
It's an interesting definition, both for the way it's made and the assumptions on which it relies. He establishes criteria for the existence of satire based on its audience, citing people who mistake The Onion and The Daily Currant for real news as evidence for the genre's fragility, tying satire's ontology to whether it achieves food for thought for the permanently slackjawed. Leaving aside the fact that a satire's being mistaken for reality is often a satirist's dream, basing the existence of something on the perception of idiots is a powerful argument.
Even talking amongst ourselves, however, we noticed that our opinions on satire and Bady's argument were not in harmony. With that in mind, we chose to offer our first open-ended philosophical discussion
. We here at Et tu, Mr. Destructo?
have always been partial to the old inquiry, wherein one asks questions or challenges the opinions of another in the hope of reaching consensus or synthesis. In the main, it is both arcane and bourgeois, but it is also a timesaver compared to newer inquiries, like asking a room full of people what something is, then asking them if the photographer has arrived yet. Then tweeting.
And you can take that *fist pump* to the bank.