How Humor and Satire Contribute to Pop Politics?

This is FREE sample
This text is free, available online and used for guidance and inspiration. Need a 100% unique paper? Order a custom essay.
  • Any subject
  • Within the deadline
  • Without paying in advance
Get custom essay

Politics can be harsh—the level of distortion and the lack of new ideas—so the ability to laugh and make jokes makes it more bearable. Whether it’s in memes or just to call something out in a way that’s funny, satire calls everyone a phony—media, politicians, everyone who is popular at the moment. It’s not as if satire, or comedic influence in general, is going to in a major way change someone’s mind.

No one will say, “Oh, I heard this joke and I’m not going vote for democrats or liberalists anymore.” At the same time, humor has a new measure of influence in politics. Even former president Barack Obama was essentially on a stand-up comedy tour in the final two weeks of the campaign, and jokes were an important part of his speech, he made them more bearable then they usually are.

Our political system in general has been a form of entertainment for a very long time. Most people have a pretty strong sense of apprehension about the people who claim to want to run the country for the benefit of the people. Apprehension is a good thing for the most part, and the tendency to ridicule the people posturing for us is probably pretty healthy. Satire has probably gotten a little more atrocious, prompt, and regular than it used to be.

The people who most famously do satire all over the world are mostly objective as we can see in the media, because what they do is pick out the stupidest things happening in any given day and make fun of it, and for all the people who watch, politics is just a stupidity show. As a result, people begin to unconsciously distrust government and politics.

As Dagnes (2016) said Political comedy is like speaking the truth to a king. Comedy is essentially a complaint against oppression. It’s a complaint against the power structure. Most of the time you need to be pretty much bold to say what you really mean in humourous way.

Satire is also a very effective way of exposing the duplicity of politicians. But too many satirists now take the position that they should satirize the whole enterprise of politics rather than particular positions or individuals. It gives young people the notion that all positions are the same, none of them are any good, and ironically it becomes a very powerful force to be reckoned with, because the people who are most dissatisfied with the situation and most attracted to change are told there’s no point in even trying, they’re all failures. What it does is encourage a kind of negativism, and it particularly hurts people that surround us.

According to Dagnes (2016) the claim that political satire can actually change things is more or less sceptical. Besides, the last thing we want the president or any politician for that matter to do is make a decision based on what someone like me or somebody else says. Satire needs to help people deal with the political reality, to keep them from being depressed and anxious. The goal is to be funny, and not to attack only one side; that is refreshingly neutral. There is never a shortage of material no matter who is in power. People are always going to be hypocritical. Politicians’ behavior is no worse than it ever was before—it’s just now we have mobile phones with cameras and social media. We have so many ways of getting it out faster and we are much more crueler and unforgivable.

According to Traister (2014) the power of satire is to distill certain truths and convey them to us in ways that are not only digestible but simple and enjoyable because it’s comedy. It’s also become a release valve for people to work off frustration in the most obtuse and available way. One of the ways of getting a point across is through humor. People always want to be around the funny one. Once someone makes you laugh, you’ve disarmed them, and then you go in for the kill. It is such a powerful position to be in. We come across it frequently when we are attending various parties. We see it in the news and social media almost daily. It’s like a relationship between a pastor and his congregation—one is guiding the other.

Often, television programs also ironically acknowledge that life they represent is not real, that watching television is a waste of time, and that it can lead to a dangerously oversimplified and glorious view of the world. Despite the fact that television frequently ridicules itself and its power in our lives, it keeps us entertained at the same time by the ridicule. As Camfield (2015) states the audience’s finesse, or consiousness of its status as both consumers and products sold to advertisers, matters very little because television’s spectacular assault on value, whether in the form of rant debate shows, reality programming, or edgy situation comedy.

He further explains it „it plays as easily into the hands of a sophisticated viewer who is critical of its values as it does into the hands of the unsophisticated viewer who accepts the imagery without questions“(p.16). Postmodern irony does not aim to get us to turn off the television, but to entertain us into staying tuned and to be consumers of all cultural product, all the while reassuring us that we are present and „in on the joke“, and somehow superior to the giant trick that is being played on us.

The witers of the The Simpsons are some of the best storytellers of this distinct joke. The Simpsons are the television family – each episode begins with them sitting in front of the TV and arguing, and the manipulation of Bart and Homer into wanting something they have seen on TV – usually with catastrophic results – is a major plot device throughout the series and the point of much of the show’s ironic satire. The creators of The Simpsons ridicule the seductive and manipulative power of television with both the weary cynicism and the naive credulousness. The show’s keeps us watching because it is extremely entertaining.

This kind of irony is especially evident in the social and political satire we see on television, but in a more subtle form it has come to be the defining aesthetic of politics itself. Politicians perform their roles with a smirk and wink aimed at television audience, knowing that saying something is true is the equivalent of its being true, that appearing is the same as being. They play a role we all expect them to play while they act in their own self-interest, and the media reports on the competing roles of the performers as if they were the story – not the effects of their political self-interests. When political activity is reduced to a photo op and staged like a television show, it seems that it becomes a part of the same fiction with often very real consequences.

Can the social and political satire of television shows such as The Simpsons really have any kind of efficacy beyond that of pure entertainment? Or does the irony that makes all of these shows so popular actually impair social and political engagement that it creates a disengaged viewer who prefers outsider flippancy to thoughtful satiric and ironic critique. In a 1946 article for Life magazine, Waugh stated, „Satire is a matter of period.

It flourishes in a stable socitety and presupposes homogenous moral standards – the early Roman empire and eighteen-century Europe. It is aimed at inconsistency and hypocrisy. It exposes polite cruelty and folly by exposing them. It seeks to produce shame. All this has no place in the Century of the Common Man where vice no longer pays lip service to virtue. The artist’s only service to the disintegrated society of today is to create little independant systems of order of his own.“ (p. 304).

If we look at it from her point of view, her observations about satire are quite true. Not only does satire seem to depend upon a set of values from which to judge behaviur, it also rests upon assurance, the satirist and the viewer need to feel that something could possibly change and that it will matter.

As for political satire it is a genre from what we can see in the media that relies heavily on the sources of the jokes. Instead of the hosts of political satire drawing humor on personal experience, they draw their humor from external events in society no matter the theme. It builds its humor on both jokes of the show’s host and by its similarity to traditional news. In this way, political satire connects form with content by appearing as real news while performing as a comedy program. We can see this almost daily no matter what show we are tuned to at the moment.

Devitt (2011) states, „ Understanding genre requires understanding more than just classification schemes; it requires understanding the origins of the patterns on which those classifications are based“(p. 62). When a humorist decides to use political satire, that person has to understand the show of traditional news and of politics before creating humor about these shows. If the humorist does not understand these conventions, then it seems that the humor may not fall into the range of what is called political satire.

Satire is mostly for people who no longer have hope for a better future or they are natural born cynics. The before mentioned television show and the like provide us an oasis of humor for easier absorption of our everyday life. Many viewers sometimes lose the ability to distinguish real and unreal and do not recognize satire, because often in reality, there are more unexpected, absurd and stupid situations than an average person could expect. We are witnessing in a series of examples of how far the politicians are radical in their thoughts that satirics often can not reach them.

Satire’s goal is not ridicule for the sake of ridicule itself, it is about how individuals and society can be amended to understand their own mistakes. Satire serves to find out how to become better people through laughter. We live in a society of absurdity, with absurd rules, laws and politics, and satiricalists come as heroes on the dark days or even as an “emergency assistance”. Funny interpretations of politics, make it easier for the people and laughter helps them to survive in this sometimes dreary everyday life.

Every joke has to start with a promise, or the idea that creates a need for laughter. The need is key — it’s the problem we all want to correct. Sigmund Freud (1960) believed that jokes provided effective means to relieve anxiety and give voice to subconscious urges. Freud described comedy as a “social process,” dependent on timing, placement, and context for effect. Laughter is a contagious, and it is often said that we make fun of our politicians because it is the only way to endure them and endure them we must, no matter what country we live in.

Comedians use political humor to help us reevaluate our anxieties and fears. We live in an era where the American president is a reality TV star and a constant bad joke. It is almost as if we are provoked to make jokes about him and the like. The ability to make political jokes is a must, but audience is crucial. The business of comedy relies on audience approval. It’s a challenge to deliver satire fast enough for people to see it on Twitter or Instagram and not risk destroying one’s reputation if a joke is received the wrong way.

As Apte (1985) states: „political comedy is branded in industry terms, jokes are consumed as a product“ (p.51). Comedians seem to be nowadays creative entrepreneurs, telling jokes in order to survive. Approval is their „paycheck“. They are performers for the people. Our celebrity fetish is real and harsh; we expect our role models to entertain us with supersized antics without disappointing our morals.

According to Prior (2007) and Zaller (1992) mass media play an important role in providing citizens with the information necessary for effective political engagement, but are often found to have “minimal effects” because chronic differences in motivation and ability determine what citizens learn and how they interpret and utilize information. Perhaps now more than ever, entertainment media may play an important role in shaping what citizens know and how they come to understand politics.

In fact, the pursuit of entertainment or amusement does not preclude learning or meaningful engagement with political information. Political comedy is not only an alternative source for important political information but it has the potential to enhance competence and finesse by presenting information is a way that interests and engages audiences. According to Apte (1985) to understand the democratic consequences of political comedy it is necessary to consider the patterns of cognitive processing and engagement associated with comprehending and enjoying this unique and complex form of political communication.

Information is a valuable resource because citizens with higher levels of political knowledge seem to hold attitudes that are both quantitatively and qualitatively different than those expressed by less informed citizens. Mass media play an important role in determining the opportunities for learning and the mix of information about politics and public affairs available to citizens.

In order to be able to understand the effects of political comedy it is necessary to recognize that comedy is not simply an alternative source of news and information but a unique form of political communication that enhances learning by promoting certain kind of information so that it is incorporated into memory and available for use when making decisions.

Cite this paper

How Humor and Satire Contribute to Pop Politics?. (2021, Feb 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-humor-and-satire-contribute-to-pop-politics/



What is an example of political satire?
One example of political satire is The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, which uses humor and sarcasm to comment on current events and political issues. Another example is Saturday Night Live's political sketches, which often parody politicians and their actions.
What is satire in pop culture?
In pop culture, satire is often used to make light of current events or to poke fun at celebrities and public figures.
Why is satire used in politics?
Satire is used in politics as a way to point out the absurdity of certain policies or actions by those in power. It can also be used to poke fun at politicians and the political process in general.
We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Peter is on the line!

Don't settle for a cookie-cutter essay. Receive a tailored piece that meets your specific needs and requirements.

Check it out