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Satire And Black Humor In Dr. Strangelove

1394 words - 6 pages

Even though Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb screened in the midst of the sobering Cold War, critics were keen on praising the film for its mastery of humor applied to such a sensitive matter. The film is exceedingly loaded with metaphors, innuendos, and allusions that nothing can be left undissected or taken for face value; the resulting effect is understood to be part of Kubrick’s multifarious theme. Kubrick has stated that what began as a “the basis for a serious film about accidental war ” eventually birthed an absurd and farcical classic comedy. The director fuses together irony, satire, and black humor to create a waggish piece but most of all the situation of the times and its gravity is the essence of what the audience finds so hilarious . Using caricatures rather than characters, exaggerated script, and sexual undertones, Kubrick manifests to the audience their own predicament and just how ridiculous it is to even consider brinksmanship as a means to preserve the American lifestyle.
The whole premise of the film is based on insubordination committed by General Jack D. Ripper. Named after the infamous serial killer of prostitutes, General Ripper claims his “loss of essence” is because of the Communist’s use of water fluoridation, a completely off-base theory by the general to explain his impotency , and uses his military status to start a cataclysmic nuclear war with Russia. This in itself is comical because that inane and inherent need to dominate and prove both physical and sexual prowess seems to exist solely in males and in Kubrick’s eyes serves as an origin for this unwarranted war between two overly capable countries. The cigar, machinegun, and pistol that General Ripper wields further implicate his feelings of inferiority . More evidence of sexual undertones are the character’s names which all allude to either genitalia or the perversion of sex/love with the exception of Captain Mandrake whose name refers to the plant and fittingly so as he is the only rational character in the entire film . In fact, sex weaves itself into the entire film: the survival kit the bombers are given contains female articles and prophylactics, the opening scene is of two planes “mating ”, and the missiles themselves become phallic when Major Kong rides one like a thrilled cowboy. Kubrick’s intent to mix in sex with the looming war plot is compelling because these two acts are primitive characteristics that are still inherently man: the desire to fornicate and the desire to compete/kill. Why audiences should find this uproarious despite the serious matter at hand is exactly because war and lust are crude leftovers despite millenniums of evolution; it is pathetically instinctual that humans create trouble regardless of their intellectual genius.
Kubrick employs all techniques of humor but most notably black humor, parody, and irony. Each character is employed to be the amplified version of...

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