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Satire
Satire is a form of humor, and is considered the cruelest form of comedy. Satire points out the folly of people, organizations, institutions, and ideas.

Often, satire will use fictional counterparts of real people as characters, as a parody of Real Life. However, a satirical work can also use original characters to explore the foibles or ramifications of an organization or course of action.

Satire often relies on current events, which raises a danger that it won't be appreciated in another era. The poetry of Pope and Dryden satirized English politics of the 18th century, but few would appreciate the humor now. The best satire can still be appreciated on its own merits even after the thing it's criticizing fades from consciousness. Occasionally, a piece of satire regains relevance in similar circumstances; for example, satire aimed at George Bush I (or, perhaps more justifiably, Richard Nixon) can often be easily applied to Bill Clinton; 1990s barbs at Bob Dole were recycled in 2008 to target John McCain.

The Roman poets Ennius and Lucilius are considered the progenitors of the genre, though almost all of their work has been lost. Latin satire was generally delivered in verse, like most literature of the time. It was considered the sole branch of literature native to Rome and there was no Greek equivalent, though some Greek comedy, such as Aristophanes, had elements that we would consider satiric. Horace, Persius, and Juvenal are perhaps the three most famous Roman satirists, ranging from good-natured (Horace disposing of a dreadful bore) to savage (Juvenal's condemnation of sodomites pretending to be philosophers). They are for the most part preoccupied with urban life, morality, and how other people suck.

Literary convention divides satire into the Horatian (good-natured, almost affectionate, light-hearted, and more likely to view the target as foolish rather than evil) and the Juvenalian (contemptuous, abrasive, scornful, and outraged, relentlessly mocking a target often regarded as outright evil).

See also Parody, Pastiche, Farce, Meta Trope Intro. Compare Deconstruction, as a lot of satire incorporates elements of it.


Examples:

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     Anime and Manga  

  • Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei makes dark commentary on general shallowness, escapism, otaku and society in general.
  • Kino's Journey basically does this Once an Episode as Kino travels from one city to another. Notably one episode has a democracy where only a single citizen is still alive, all the others having died because of their absolute belief in majority rules.

     Art  

  • Superflat is a Po Mo art movement that was started by Takashi Murakami who was inspired by Hideaki Anno. It sometimes satirizes many aspects of Japan (particularly things sparked by Anime) such as consumerism, the prevalence of Kawaisa, Lolicon, and Fanservice along with the Otaku subculture that is the driving force behind all of them. However, since certain artists associated with Superflat are lolicon otaku themselves, it could also be seen as a form of self-parody. Furthermore, it should be noted that not all Superflat works are satirical in nature - Superflat Monogram, by Murakami and Mamoru Hosoda, for instance, is merely a Louis Vuitton commercial.
  • Dada was a Po Mo movement that was a satire of modern art and post-WWI malaise.
  • William Hogarth
  • James Gillray
  • Honore Daumier

     Comic Books  

     Film  

     Live Action TV  

  • The Daily Show satirizes modern US and global news events, as does the Spin-Off, The Colbert Report. Whether their satire is Juvenalian or Horatian depends on the subject: Fox News Channel? Juvenalian (particularly when it comes to Glenn Beck). Barack Obama? Horatian. George W. Bush? Are we talking 2001-2006 or 2006-2009?note  The rest of the media? What are they saying now? Etc., etc., etc.
  • Yes, Minister satirized 1980s UK Governmental policy and decision-making. Generally Horatian with occasional dips into Juvenalian territory.
  • ...and its Spiritual Successor The Thick of It now satirises UK politics in the 21st century. Purely Juvenalian.
  • Veep, Trans Atlantic Equivalent of The Thick of It, is, despite coming from the same crew, surprisingly far less Juvenalian and even moves into Horatian territory, with the politicians and staffers mostly being overworked or likably incompetent rather than scheming sons-of-bitches. It helps that there is no clear equivalent to Malcolm; the Invisible President's messenger to the VP's office is possibly the saddest schmuck in the District (and the District is full of schmucks).
  • Brass Eye satirized the reporting methods of 90s UK news media as well as wider social and political issues. Out-Juvenals Juvenal himself.
  • Frontline satirized Australian current affairs programmes in the 1990s.
  • Have I Got News for You. Fittingly for the editor of Juvenalian satirical magazine Private Eye, Ian Hislop's contributions are toward the Juvenalian end of the scale, while Paul Merton tends more toward the Horatian end when he isn't making plays on words or indulging in surrealism and flights of fancy.
  • MadTv: This took Mad Magazine, and put it our television screens in the form of a sketch comedy show.
  • Mock the Week
  • Ugly Betty satirizes the fashion industry. Horatian.
  • Bewitched continually satirizes American conformity, consumerism, and racism. More or less Horatian, per the standards of the day.
  • Royal Canadian Air Farce satirized Canadian politics and current events and just about every other aspect of of Canadian life in its long run. It was something of a forerunner for Canadian television and influenced the CBC in particular for a number of years.
  • Another Canadian series, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, was a satirical presentation of current events and was shown in a news format. It was known for having strictly Newfoundland performers and a particularly eastern perspective on things.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • Spitting Image: satirizing politicians and other celebrities of the day.
  • That Was The Week That Was kickstarted the British television satire boom of the 1960s. Juvenalian.
  • The "Really!?! with Seth (and Amy)" skit on Saturday Night Live. Constantly points out the absurdity of celebrities or politicians by comparing their actions with how the same actions would affect ordinary people. Typically Juvenalian, although Tina Fey's "Really!?!" to Greece on her first guest appearance in 2008 was more disappointed than nasty.

     Literature  

     Magazines  

  • The pornographic magazine Hustler uses satire to express Larry Flynt's beliefs and opinions. Almost always Juvenalian.
  • The articles in Private Eye are mostly Juvenalian satire...when they aren't hard-hitting straight-up exposés of real wrongdoing. Sometimes articles do dip into the Horatian (particularly the Prime Minister parodies, which are usually too ridiculous to be truly stinging).

     Music  

     Newspaper Comics  

  • The Dilbert comic strip is a satire of the corporate world. Mostly Horatian.
  • Calvin and Hobbes contains a variety of satire. Most often Calvin himself acts as satire of narrow-minded self-centeredness of people or the shallow ethos of the consumer society, sometimes other things. His father's behaviour is often satire of certain kind of parental behaviour. Both of them sometimes offer satire of hobbies taken too seriously (bicycling for Dad and chewing gum for Calvin). And there's more.

     Radio  

  • On his radio show, Howard Stern will satirize any number or things he doesn't care for, most notably the hypocrisies of Media WatchDogs.
  • Absolute Power, a BBC radio series was a satire on spin-doctoring in modern politics, and media manipulation. The Sound to Screen Adaptation shifted its focus: still satirizing media manipulation, but more in the context of the nature of celebrity.
  • Brian Gulliver's Travels is a six-part Setting Update of Gulliver's Travels on BBC Radio 4. It updates the satire to be about 21st century Britain, giving us, for example, Sham, the land of alternative therapies.

     Tabletop Games  

     Video Games  

  • The Web Game developer Molleindustria has specialized in making satirical games with relatively simple gameplay.

     Western Animation  

  • The Simpsons is one huge satire of late 20th and early 21st century Western society.
  • The more recent seasons of South Park usually use satire as their primary source of humor.
  • Futurama frequently satirizes aspects of modern life, from our waste and consumerism, technological evolutions to our short-sightedness to relentless and irritating evangelists.
  • MAD: Its a spiritual and satirical successor to Mad TV, in the form of an animated sketch series.
    • It even had the nerve to ridicule James Cameron's: Avatar.
  • Invader Zim: It’s done an excellent job with poking fun at Human Life in the Far-Future, from the most technological of devices and gadgets, to the futuristic of food and drinks ever consumed.
    • Even the aspects of daily life in the far-future have devolved into a tortured mockery of itself. In a most Juvenalian manner.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: This show mocks and laughs at American Retro Pop culture, also old fashioned media censorship policies.
    • Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, the direct to video animated film of the series, jabs its toes further into Summertime Activities, such as water fights, boating, including a car trip to a satirical Disneyland Park, Johnny Depp in the form of a skunk cartoon, and even the late 1980s horror films Friday The 13th & The Hitcher.
      • Animaniacs uses this kind of humor 4 years later.
  • Pinky and the Brain
  • Daria
  • Recess
  • RockosModernLife
  • Looney Tunes pokes its cartoonish fingers at early 20th Century pop-culture, both American & Foreign.
  • Beetlejuice

     Web Site  

     Web Original  

  • TJ Omega has his Plastic Addict series which does this of the bad toys he reviews during them. He's repeatedly pointed out that they're not to be taken seriously and are meant to be entertaining.


Said BookismLit. Class TropesShadow Archetype
Satan Is GoodOlder Than FeudalismSchmuck Bait
Russian HumourComedy TropesSausage String Silliness

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