#3- The Development of Satire

To dig deeper into my topic, I interviewed three people about their views on political satire: my dad, my older cousin, and a family friend, Mike. My dad and Mike have a view of when political satire was less readily available. My older cousin was born in 2000 so he has a view of satire from a more modern lens. They talked about lots of interesting things, like looking at satire from the conservative side, and they made me expand my thinking about how I’m thinking about political satire. They also made me more interested in the effects of political satire. I asked them these 10 questions:

Historically, how do you feel political satire has affected the youth?

When you were growing up, how do you feel political satire has affected the youth?

Today, how do you feel political satire is affecting the youth?

Do you think that political satire helps or hinders progress? And why?

Have you ever seen a bit or sketch that has made you feel like you need to act or learn more?

What are some good examples of how frustration has fueled a change in society?

Do you have any other views on political satire?

What do you think about this topic?

Are there any people who I should talk to about this?

Is there anything you think is missing from my thinking?

The first person I interviewed was my dad. He thinks that historically, political satire has been directed to adults, not young adults. When he was growing up, the only political satire he remembers was SNL. SNL did influence his opinions as a child. My dad said that today, more people get their political news and information from political satire shows on TV. Opinions are based a lot on the satire, not just the news. My dad believes that political satire can both help and hinder progress. It helps by informing and motivating people about issues they are angry about. On the other hand, it can be inherently biased and can only show one side of the discussion. He has seen bits and sketches that influenced him, but he can’t remember any. My dad says that frustration has helped people confront racist people’s comments. In general, my dad enjoys political satire, because it takes a topic he feels he has no influence over and either mocks it or elevates in a way he never could. He thinks this topic is interesting because it’s something that people observe, but not visibly talk about. He thinks I should talk to John Stewart and the Winooski. My dad thinks it is possible that I am viewing political satire from just the liberal side. There is likely a counter opinion that does not get as much attention. He thinks I should ask, how might be political satire making a change? 

The second person I talked to was my cousin. He thinks that historically, political satire has helped youth form opinions, but it can be negative, because it can be forced upon them. This makes it hard to understand the line between people who have a large scope or small scope. People with a small scope will more easily believe any political belief they are given. People with a large scope will be less quick to do so. When he was growing up, he didn’t political satire didn’t affect the youth. Today’s comedians weren’t there for him. Political satire today has kind of opened his eyes to both sides. He says, “It’s also pretty funny.” My cousin thinks that political satire both helps and hurts progress. It interests youth, but it hurts individual opinions. There are no specific sketches that have influenced my cousin. My cousin thinks that frustration has kind of hindered society, it has made people more passive-aggressive and there is more division between people. My cousin finds the Colbert report funny, and he likes the topic of political satire. He thinks that political satire can be frustrating and infuriating to conservatives. My cousin thinks that I should talk to a Republican who understands common satire, so that I can have views from both sides. He thinks that I should ask, how much they know about political satire as a starting point. He also says I should ask, how would you define political satire?

The last person I talked to was Mike. He thinks that over the years, political satire actually has inspired the youth to become more politically involved. It also makes them pay more attention to the issues of today that the satire is making fun of. When Mike was growing up, political satire gave a way into political understanding for some young people. People were more predisposed to pay more attention and satire gave others a way to look at issues. Political satire provided a funny, but accurate view of the issues that were going on. When Mike was growing up, cable was just beginning, there was no such thing as DVR. It was hard to watch political satire, because you needed to watch it when it was on and it was usually on at a late time. Mike thinks that today compared to growing up, political satire is more readily accessible because of tech. The way into political understanding got bigger because there were more platforms available. Nowadays, you can just google late night comedy shows. This is good, because an easier way into political understanding makes it so that people can be more informed. Mike thinks that political satire helps, no matter what side you are on. Being able to make fun of everyday issues helps people. Satire helps get rid of the frustration of depressing issues. Because humor/laughter is medicine, it can help people deal with difficulty and complexity with everyday issues. Mike has seen bits and sketches that makes him feel like he needs to do something, but he can’t think of anything in particular. Because the issue that is being made fun of is serious, it can force important realizations to happen. Sometimes, it has been a big week and it lets people cut loose, but with further consideration, the issues being made fun of are more serious. Mike thinks that the best example of frustration fueling a change is through laughter. Mike says that laughter propels people to actions. The issues talked about can be so intense and severe, that it makes the audience realize that the issue is serious. Also, comedians have leaders of movements on their shows now and they can influence people with the people making a change. Mike thinks that political satire is entertaining and kind of soothing. Since most comedy is focused on the left, Mike identifies with it more and it gives him a sense of belonging. Mike thinks the topic I chose is good because it is exciting and smart. Satirists are so talented and funny, they encourage us. Mike thinks I should talk to elected officials, like town council members, and see what they think about political satire. Mike thinks that I should ask people how much they watch political satire in a given unit of time, like as a week. Mike says that Jon Stewart was one of the first non-network TV channels. Now, there is a new younger crew like John Oliver and Stephen Colbert which Mike thinks is good.

Overall, everybody had a lot to say. They said things that stretched my thinking, like talking to conservatives, and they also helped me narrow my thinking, like talking about how often and how much people knew about political satire. These conversations have opened my eyes to new possibilities and I am excited to start learning more.

Gabe Nelson

2 Responses to “#3- The Development of Satire

  • Gabe,
    Wonderful, detailed writing! I enjoyed reading about your three interviews and the different thoughts that everyone had. I think it would be interesting for you to show several people a political satire sketch (maybe a video you have found online or really like or are confused by) and then asking them specific questions about their reactions to this. Narrowing the lens as you continue to progress into this topic may be interesting.

    I look forward to watching your journey unfold!

  • Hi Gabe,
    You and I went about this assignment in a very similar way. As we both used simple questions to dive further into the topic. Something that stood out to me was when your “dad said that today, more people get their political news and information from political satire shows on TV.” This was super interesting as for me it is completely opposite I get most of my news from “The New York Times” or “60 Minutes”. It was also super interesting that the people you talked to all had a different twist on satire. With Mike who thinks that it’s inspirational to youth. Then your cousin thinks that satire has helped him form his own thoughts as he believes he has seen both sides of one argument. Then your dad thinks that adults gain more from satire then youth. You picked very different people to interview which helps guide your purpose and rind reasoning within your idea. Something that I’m wondering if this a national issue? or a Vermont issue? and if it’s a national issue can it be narrowed down to just Vermont? Great work this is a great start to a HUGE topic that is always growing.
    Have a great weekend

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