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Rhetorical Device

What is Satire?

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Satire is comedy that draws attention to social or political issues. It relies on irony, sarcasm and analogy to be funny while drawing attention to dark absurdities.

Types

Satire is a type of literature, film, television and art. It takes many forms including parody, burlesque, juxtaposition and double entendre. In many cases, satire trumpets a position in an exaggerated way that exposes its supposed hypocrisy, idiocy or inhumanity.

Subjects

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.
- Voltaire, 1767
Satire may target individuals such as politicians, business people and celebrities. Generally speaking, an individual needs to be fair game for comedy to be considered satire. For example, if you publish a meme criticizing a non-famous person it would not be considered satire but a personal criticism. Beyond famous people, satire may cover topics such as politics, government, institutions, business, culture, religion, education, entertainment, sports, social issues and the environment.

Value

Satire is a common feature of liberal democracy with protected legal status in many nations. For example, satire is protected by the constitutions of Germany and Italy. In other nations it may be covered by freedom of speech, artistic license and the right to criticize. Many nations have a rich history of satire that may be traced back hundreds of years with well established precedents for its legality.

Censorship

Political powers tend to dislike satire and it is discouraged or actively repressed in many nations. Freedom to satire the government is a sign of a healthy democracy.

Criticism

Satire is, by definition, offensive. It is meant to make us feel uncomfortable. It is meant to make us scratch our heads, think, do a double-take, and then think again.
- Maajid Nawaz
In some cases, satire is taken seriously such that people fail to see the humor in it. In this case, it may be criticized for promoting the very thing it is attacking. For example, the book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is commonly accused of being racist. In fact, it is a satire of racism meant to reveal its inhumanity. However, taken at face value it can be misunderstood leading to naive criticism.
Satire is in a similar category as action, adventure and fantasy whereby film and literary critics rarely praise it. A brilliant satire is lucky to be reviewed as well as a mediocre historical drama.
Overview: Satire
Type
Definition
Comedy that draws attention to social or political issues.
Related Concepts

Storytelling

This is the complete list of articles we have written about storytelling.
Analogy
Archetypes
Artistic License
Atmosphere
Character Development
Callback
Character Flaws
Cliche
Dry Humor
Design Fiction
Improv
Deux Ex Machina
Kairos
Direct Language
Literary Device
Literature
Figurative Language
Macguffin
Hypothetical Question
Metaphor
Mood
Improvisation
Myth
Inside Jokes
Plot
Jumping The Shark
Quibble
Rhetorical Device
Sarcasm
Lost The Plot
Satire
Message Framing
Tone Of Text
Understatement
Metaphysical Conceit
Verbal Irony
Want To Believe
Mood
Wit
Narrative Thread
Worldbuilding
Non Sequitur
Peak-End Rule
Personification
Red Herring
Rhetorical Question
Rule Of Three
Slice Of Life
Suspension Of Disbelief
Tagline
Looking Glass
Word Of Mouth
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