Since we started this blog, we’ve encountered a whole bunch of misogynist ish whose authors have dressed it up as “satire.” Be it the ill-advised “bikini bod” ads from Joe in New York or the hideous bit of hateration published by the Irish Times back in February, there seems to be a recurring trend that when people inflict something hateful or sexist or racist or just plain stupid on the rest of us, they immediately hide behind the excuse: “But it was satire!” Of course, in most cases, they hide behind the satire excuse only after they realize that what they said was not, in fact, funny or smart or even satirical. Satire has become the lazy asshole’s way of trying to excuse himself–or herself–without an apology.
So I am calling in my old friends G & C Merriam and Noah Webster to school us:
1 a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn; 2. trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
For a primer on practical usage, you can’t beat commenter have.at.it’s breakdown:
Effective satire usually takes a reasonable premise to a ridiculous conclusion or vice versa (see the classic example, Swift’s A Modest Proposal). Their [bikini bod] sign wasn’t funny or satirical. Now, if they had said something like “Drink Joe’s coffee and lose 20 pounds overnight! You’ll develop holes in your intestines but no one will notice the colostomy bag because they’ll all be looking at your flat stomach!”, that may have been satirical, if possibly bad for business.