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Satire, The Mirror Of Reality Essay

2437 words - 10 pages

Satire is the most powerful democratical weapon in the arsenal of modern media. Sophia McClennen, the author of America According to Colbert: Satire as Public Pedagogy, describes it as the modern form of public pedagogy, as it helps to educate the masses about current issues (73). In fact, ”a Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey in 2004 found that 61 percent of people under the age of thirty got some of their political 'news' from late-night comedy shows” (McClennen 73). This statistic shows how influential satirical shows such as The Colbert Report or South Park can be. Satire invites critical self introspection from us in a way that no other media can. It also acts as an unbiased mirror that reflects the mirror image of the flaws of our society. This beautiful process, when unhindered and uncensored, is the epitome of western freedom of speech, which is the single most significant right that deserves to be cherished and defended.
According to McClennen however, all mirror images of satire might not be beneficial. She believes that shows such as South Park and The Simpsons, which are not afraid to attack anything, do not lead to any kind of positive political discourse. This is because they provide negative critique that does not offer the elements required from an effective public pedagogy (McClennen 74). Theodore Gournelos, the author of The Tao of South Park: Dissonant Visual Culture and the Future of Politics refutes McClennen´s claim by arguing that eventhough South Park does not directly intervene with policy making or legislative initiatives, it forms a social landscape in which we challenge the status quo. He continues by saying that ”conflict-oriented cultural productions like South Park suggest an array of alternative tactics for a progressive or emancipatory politics within a dissonant ontology” (Gournelos 284). Regardless of McClennen´s and Gournelou´s difference of opinion, they reach common ground in arguing that for satire to be effective, it has to have an impact on political discourse. In addition to influencing the society, satire serves another purpose, functioning as the bodyguard for freedom of expression and democracy.
Our First Amendment right was exercised on September 30, 2005, when a series of satirical cartoons that included Prophet Muhammad were published by a Danish newspaper named Jyllands-Posten (Henry). These drawing set ablaze a worldwide conflict, which raised many questions about free-speech and censorship in the west and caused violent riots, mostly in the Middle East and Africa. Flemming Rose, a cultural editor for Jyllands-Posten, stated that the motivation for the cartoons came from the on-going debate in Denmark about Islam and free speech. For example, a Danish children´s book writer had been struggling to find someone to draw pictures of Muhammad for his book. This was due to the illustrators´ fear of reprisals. Jyllands-Posten decided to test the severity of the illustrators concerns...

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