In the second film featuring Borat, played by British comedian Sacha Baren Cohen, is a comedic journey from Kazakh to America. Borat is released from the prison sentence he received for bringing shame to his country. He reunites with his feral and sheltered fifteen-year-old daughter and together they lead a comical and revealing journey to America, specifically to find Mike Pence. He plans to offer his daughter to Mike Pence as a gift from his native country. Borat is extremely socially ignorant, awkward, and eager to learn about American culture.
Unlike most films, Borat is one of the only true actors and stayed in character for five days straight. In fact, Borat utilizes dramatic irony in the most extreme sense as most scenes and people filmed are not staged actors but are actually real people unaware they are being filmed for the Borat sequel. Additionally, there is a prevalent use of hyperbole specifically involving an uncomfortable interaction between Borat’s daughter and Rudy Giuliani when she was easily able to interview him. The hyperbole plays into the fact of the ease it was for her to establish herself as a false right-wing journalist, similar to the reporters the Trump administration embraced.
While there are many moments of comedic relief there are also offensive moments that can be considered over the line. Through Borat’s audacious comedy a clear message is depicted, don’t vote for Trump. Given this was released in 2020 there was mass divisive political tension in America regarding the proper handling of Covid-19 and the potential reelection of Donald Trump. It makes a mockery of conspiracy theories, fake news media, and political movements.
A return to form is needed in the new age of ever-increasing digital consumerism and even greater variety in said medium. All this brand-new shiny content is coming at you fast! 24/7, 365 days a year, every hour, every minute, every second, and all of it I have to pay attention to! It’s all too… complex. God! I wish things weren’t so complex! Don’t you hate it when things aren’t spoon-fed to you? When they have depth and nuance? What happened to good ole reliable newspapers? One column from a trusted, corporate, and infallible source was all that was needed! It is of the utmost impertinence that we do our duty as red-blooded American consumers to devour everything in our path. Oh! to return to the bliss of all my news coming from a smooth-talking radio host and a piece of paper every morning instead of from the cold, unfeeling, and calculating screen. Media integrity has been wrought with deceit! I want to see the news, consume the news, and live the news! But not like this? I don’t want to see it all! Y’know what they say! Out of sight, out of mind! What is news besides entertainment anyways? I want a spectacle! I want it to be sensational! I want to see disasters, explosions, and war! (not in my backyard, though) By opening my phone and scrolling through my feed, I’ve seen it all. From papers to radio to phones, the amount of information we are nearly forced to consume gets larger daily! I don’t want to think about what I see, and I don’t want to hear differing viewpoints; I want to hear what I think is true! I don’t want to think about it anymore. I don’t think I like media at all…
The rom-com genius Jane Austen wrote Emma, where she created a swoony story with love triangles while also calling out her protagonist for her sheltered and blinkered view of the world.
Amy Heckerling, writer-director of Clueless, took inspiration from Austen and created a beloved movie even after 25 years. While the film is famous for its ’90s aesthetic, girlish luxuries, endless fashion ensembles, and nice cars, Clueless still is in a tricky place.
Heckerling, like Auestn, uses irony to show what it looks like when a self-involved person with every advantage realizes she needs to stop thinking she’s right about everything and is entitled to tell others how to live.
Clueless is a romantic comedy, but it is also a story about trying to be a better person, specifically about a privileged young white woman trying to be a better person.
In the beginning, Cher insists she lives a “way normal life for a teenage girl,” but she says this while using a computer to pick out her clothes in an uncommonly large closet. From the very first moments of Clueless, it is evident that Cher’s view of the world is entirely at odds with what it is. Much of the humor in the movie comes from that disconnect.
What’s both problematic and amusing about Cher is her ingrained belief that whatever she thinks, says, or does is correct, which is the very definition of white privilege. She has never faced any actual consequences for her actions and therefore has never been challenged.
The love interest, Josh, gives Cher a different perspective on the world. He constantly calls her out on “rich white girl nonsense” and her lack of curiosity about what’s happening beyond Beverly Hills. Her growing respect and love for him make her rethink her previous ideas.
By the end of the movie, there’s no reason to believe that Cher has changed so much that she stopped her previous activities altogether, but she has taken some positive steps. And even a positive step in a teen comedy can leave a significant impression on its audience, especially those who saw it at a young age.
Heckerling took inspiration from Jane Austen’s Emma from 1815 to create a story still relevant in 1995. Clueless critiques the lack of perspective that often goes with being white and wealthy. In its satirical moments, Clueless acknowledges Cher’s obliviousness while still forcing her to start figuring out how to hold herself to a higher standard.
When you think of comedy, you think of some of the most iconic movies and television shows ever. The Office, Family Guy, The Late Show. Programs like these hold a special place in our hearts and possibly impact our daily lives. Yet, one show has constantly driven the comedy industry, and many comedians and actors have the same goal of reaching there. For 48 years, NBC has reserved its Saturday night timeslot for one of the most iconic programs ever. First aired on October 11, 1975, the program formerly known as NBC’s Saturday Night featured skits and sketches from some of America’s most famous comedians. The show had a high ceiling and drew a large audience early on, and the results of its early popularity have shown as the program enters Season 48.
SNL, over the years, has garnered a lot of attention for the themes in their sketches. Many have applauded but also criticized their parody of political and pop culture. They portray these figures in a very satirical way, whether it be James Austin Johnson’s Donald Trump or Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton. The preface of SNL is to use satirical humor to connect to an audience and write original skits, showcasing your talent as a comedian. Saturday Night Live is the pinnacle of live comedic television. Equipped with its outstanding list of awards, the reputation and legacy of SNL is one of the best in all entertainment.
Of course, not all good things last forever. The strength of SNL has changed, and the cast has differed year to year, but the show still has a cult following, and instant classic skits arise now and then. One of the most praised segments of SNL today is Weekend Update. With hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che, Weekend Update is set up like a newsroom, featuring satirical drops on current events. The segment has gained the reputation of being one of the most popular on the show and is usually the most replayed part of each episode. Overall, Saturday Night Live will forever be remembered as a marquee program in comedy, and for however long the program continues, will continue to inspire generations of comedians and actors.
Dramatic comedy is a powerful and meaningful art form that has been entertaining and enlightening audiences for centuries. It can be seen as a combination of both tragedy and comedy, allowing us to explore deep human emotions while also providing moments of levity and humor. In this post, I will defend dramatic comedy as a meaningful art form and use the example of the television series “Atlanta” to analyze how it enhances our understanding of the world.
First, it is important to understand the definition of dramatic comedy as Aristotle defined it in his famous work “Poetics.” He saw it as a form of drama that deals with humorous and often satirical subject matter, but still maintains a serious tone and deals with important themes and ideas. By using humor as a tool to explore deeper issues, dramatic comedy can be a powerful way to connect with audiences and make complex ideas more accessible.
One example of a long-form comedic work that is particularly successful in enhancing our understanding of the world is the television series “Atlanta,” created by Donald Glover. The show follows the life of Earnest “Earn” Marks, a young African American man who tries to make it in the Atlanta rap scene while dealing with personal and societal issues.
One of the ways “Atlanta” enhances our understanding of the world is by highlighting the experiences of Black Americans in a way that is both authentic and relatable. The show tackles issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and economic inequality, while also providing moments of humor and levity. By doing so, it offers a nuanced and multi-faceted portrayal of the Black experience that is rarely seen in mainstream media.
Another way “Atlanta” enhances our understanding of the world is by using surrealism and magical realism to explore deeper themes and ideas. In several episodes, the show takes on a dream-like quality, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. This technique allows the show to explore complex concepts such as identity, mental health, and the nature of reality itself in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.
Finally, “Atlanta” also explores the struggles of everyday life in a way that is both relatable and meaningful. While the show deals with serious issues, it also presents a realistic portrayal of the joys and struggles of young adulthood. From struggling to pay rent to dealing with difficult family dynamics, “Atlanta” shows us that even in the midst of hardship, there can be moments of humor and connection.
In conclusion, dramatic comedy is a meaningful and powerful art form that can enhance our understanding of the world around us. By using humor to explore deeper themes and ideas, shows like “Atlanta” can connect with audiences in a way that is both entertaining and enlightening. By presenting a nuanced and multi-faceted portrayal of the human experience, dramatic comedy can help us to see the world in a new and more meaningful way.
The movie “21 Jump Street” released in 2012 unveil the stereotypical dumb attractive man partnered with a smart unappealing man and the unhinged high school experience. “21 Jump street” is about two high school classmates Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) who cross paths at the police academy. Their incompetence and inexperience leads them to a undercover operation at a high school to find a drug dealer who’s dealing acid to students.
The film exaggerates the two main characters roles in the film. Jenko, being the unintelligent and strong cop who can’t comprehend simple instructions given to him when trying to find the drug dealer and ends up almost ruining the operation. Whereas Schmidt seems to be planning out most of the operation and has to assist Jenko for more than half of the film. Another aspect the film exaggerates, is the high school experience. It pokes fun at the high school sociological make-up — who’s popular, who’s not, what kids act like nowadays? — has changed over the years. The film manages to change the stereotypes of trouble makers (the intelligent smart kids making the drugs for the kids). At the end of the film they both catch the drug dealer and make there boss proud.
In conclusion “21 Jump Street” is a satirical film that also uses comedy to showcase teamwork to its audience: anything can be accomplished no matter how dumb or weird you can be, have fun and don’t take things to seriously. The film reminds the audience that it’s a journey to achieve your goal as well as putting your mind to your goal in order to accomplish it.
The classic TV show, The Simpsons is well known for their satirization of ordinary life. The show achieves this by using comedic techniques such as sarcasm, exaggeration and incongruity to criticize different systems. In this particular episode, Bart and Lisa Simpson are taking standardized test in school to determine their best fit future career.
The show criticizes the school system and the purpose of standardized tests. For example, the name of the test, career aptitude normalizing test, stands for “can’t”. The name is ironic and suggests that assessment has a negative connotation or that it restricts students’ abilities. The teacher also makes a comment saying, “some of you may discover a wonderful vocation you never even imagined, others may find out life isn’t fair”. She then goes into detail about how despite her masters in education she ended up babysitting fourth graders while her husband ran away with her marriage counselor. Although she speaks in a serious tone I can identify this as satire because it is criticizing the foundation of the test by inferring that the career you are given does not always work out or make you happy. This test is seemingly a parody of other standardized tests because the questions on the test are general, easy, and worded randomly to disguise the strategy behind the scores. After the test, Lisa’s friend turns to her and says “well that was a waste of time”. Lisa responds by saying school is never a waste of time. Right after saying this, the students are instructed by the teacher to stare at the front of the room for the remainder of the class. By contradicting the statement that school is never a waste of time, the writers of the show are pointing out that standardized tests are in fact a waste of time in schools. Yet the test is handled with extreme precaution and seriousness. I noticed this when the police officers come in and collected the tests in a briefcase.
Another aspect of satire is the arch above the National Testing Center that is engraved to say “controlling your destiny since 1925”. This is satire because it ridicules the idea of a test determining your destiny. Finally one of the last references to satire I noticed was when Bart’s test was being graded and the answers were so bad that it broke the machine. After it is revealed that his test showed that his “best-fit” career would be a police officer. This not only makes fun of the schools’ system of standardized testing but also criticizes another more political system: law enforcement. It points out the little education needed to be in positions of power such as a police officer and by joking about it, people watching the show can understand the reference and deeper meaning. Although this episode may seem like a simple comedic representation of society, the use of satire shows that it goes beyond just that. It promotes change in the way students are tested and marginalized based on scores and it suggests that society as a whole should hold law enforcement officers to a higher standard and degree of education instead of allowing people to get into positions of power easily.
Since I was young, comedy has always been my favorite form of entertainment. I would prefer reading comic books, or shows and movies about comedy over any other genre. However, I have recently realized the movie’s I was always watching rarely had any asian cast members. Even still in the past few years, the movie industry has little to no coverage of Asian culture. As a result, very few Asian actors and directors have been nominated or won academy awards, and also the culture isn’t being honored/celebrated.
The rom-com film Crazy Rich Asians quickly became one of the highest rising and trending comedies. The movie was a huge win for Asian Americans, and particularly significant as it was the first movie in at least 25 years to feature an all-Asian cast. Consequently, leading to an increase in Asian-American representation in Hollywood. The film marks a historical milestone to Hollywood movie production.
The film focuses on a young couple, Rachel and Nick, who are polar opposites in terms of status and wealth. While the couple is heading on a trip to Singapore for Nick’s friend’s marriage, Rachel soon realizes many women are in pursuit for her boyfriend, Nick. Rachel, who comes from a middle to low class family later discovers that Nick’s family is extremely wealthy and successful. While Rachel becomes deeply immersed in the higher-class society, she contemplates whether or not she is built for that life. The movie suggests that people from all different social classes and families can form a connection. The movie is based on Rachel, the protagonist who ultimately determines her and Nick’s fate. Although Rachel chooses not to marry Nick, she was looking out for his best interest since she valued his relationship with his mother. If Rachel had decided to marry Nick, he would have had to lose contact with his family due to his mothers disapproval in their relationship. Ultimately, the happy ever ending takes place- Nick and Rachel get engaged.
Throughout the film power dynamics and social class are apparent. The ending however carries specific significance since the middle-class woman is deciding the wealthy man’s future- whether the two will stay together. The flip in this binary is also important due to its relevance in our world today. Typically those in power are those who are more wealthy, but more importantly the men in society usually make the important decisions whereas the women in this instance are. At times, the humor in the movie is portrayed through irony, and helps present gender roles and class. According to Aristotle, the definition of a comedy is a story of a person’s rise in fortune, and two lovers who are separated due to an extenuating circumstance, and this film is a parallel example. Rachel had to make the major choice, despite Nick coming from a family of great wealth and noble status. Crazy Rich Asians is a prime example of a comedy that contributes to real-life meaning and discusses important issues. The deeper and socially related message discusses the issues of gender and wealth, and how society views people following these factors.
Veep is one of the most iconic satirical TV shows in American history. As in the name of the show, it follows Vice President Selina Meyers (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as she fumbles through her career and makes a mockery of American democracy by caring more about her own reputation and status than her ideology or party ties. The Veep and her staff have no respect for institutional processes and no need for any guiding moral principles. They’re determined, cynical, and indifferent if not contemptuous of the people they’re supposed to govern. The show is a parody of a documentary series, similar to the office, but it is not actually a documentary. The characters make use of verbal and dramatic irony, as well as hyperbole, constantly mocking the American political system with their incompetency and inability to show genuine compassion for the people that they govern and the responsibilities they have. Selina often uses “the president is calling” as her default escape from uncomfortable situations, which is hilarious irony mocking the “useless” role of the vice president in the American government as she and her staff are aware that he never actually calls. By focusing on the incredibly unbelievable stupidity and pettiness of these Washington officials, the show makes their chase for and inability to be completely in power even more hilarious. One of the beauties of this show is that not once do they make mention of political parties or ideologies, no one knows whose a conservative or a liberal, democrat or a republican is (although you kinda know). Both sides of the political spectrum are portrayed as equally corrupt, stubborn, greedy, and cynical which allows the show to reach a more heterogeneous audience. The show began in early 2012 before Obama won his re-election and was a very different time in American politics compared to today. It demonstrates the broader theme in American society of the performative nature and ulterior motives inherent in political activities and how easily idiots can thrive in a broken political system, especially when the show imbecile and clown Jonah Ryan, becomes a front-runner in the presidential election of the last season (veering less from satire and more towards reality in this post-2016 world).
“King Lear” is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare that explores the themes of power, gender, identity, and performance. Through the characters and their actions, the play examines how these themes interrelate and affect the lives of the people around them.
Power is a central theme in “King Lear.” The play illustrates how power can corrupt even the most virtuous individuals. At the beginning of the play, King Lear is a powerful monarch with three daughters. He demands that they profess their love for him, and he plans to divide his kingdom among them based on their responses. However, he becomes increasingly irrational and paranoid as he loses his power. His daughters Goneril and Regan also become corrupted by power, mistreating their father and each other in their quest for control.
The theme of gender is also explored in “King Lear.” Women are portrayed as powerful and influential figures who can manipulate men to achieve their goals. Goneril and Regan use their sexuality to manipulate their husbands and gain power over their father. However, the play also highlights the limitations placed on women in society. Cordelia, Lear’s daughter who refuses to play along with her sisters’ games, is punished and ultimately killed.
Identity is another central theme in “King Lear.” The play explores the idea that identity can be fluid and changeable. Lear’s identity is tied up in his role as king, and he struggles to adjust to life without power. His journey throughout the play is a struggle to find his identity outside of his role as king. The Fool also represents an ambiguous identity, as he uses humor and wit to mask his true thoughts and feelings. The character of Edgar also embodies the idea of fluid identity. He disguises himself as Poor Tom to escape persecution and assumes different identities throughout the play.
The theme of performance is also explored in “King Lear.” The play features a number of instances where characters are performing or putting on a show. Lear’s demand for his daughters to profess their love for him is one example, as is the performance of Edgar as Poor Tom. These instances highlight the idea that people often play a role in society and may not reveal their true selves to others.
In conclusion, “King Lear” explores the complexities of power, gender, identity, and performance. The play illustrates how these themes interrelate and how they affect the lives of the characters in the play. The play provides insights into the human condition and how these themes are still relevant today. Shakespeare’s masterpiece challenges us to consider the relationship between power, gender, identity, and performance, and how we can use these concepts to understand ourselves and our place in society. The characters in the play are not simply figures from a bygone era but embody struggles and issues that continue to exist in our contemporary society. By engaging with these themes, “King Lear” encourages us to reflect on our own experiences and the complexities of the world we inhabit.
One of the most iconic examples of cultural work that uses satire is the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. The song was released in 1989 and features a rapid-fire list of historical events, pop culture icons, and political figures from 1949 to 1989. The song has become a classic and is still popular today, thanks in part to its catchy tune and memorable lyrics. “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is an excellent example of the use of hyperbole and irony in satire. The song’s hyperbole is evident in the way it compresses more than 40 years of history into a single song. The use of irony is also clear, as the song’s chorus repeatedly asserts that “we didn’t start the fire” while the verses list a litany of events that seem to suggest otherwise. The song also uses understatement in places, such as when it mentions the death of Elvis Presley with the simple line “Elvis Presley, we lost him young.” In addition to these techniques, the song also employs parody by using a musical style that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The song’s melody and rhythm are reminiscent of early rock and roll songs, which adds to the song’s nostalgic and satirical feel. While “We Didn’t Start the Fire” is undoubtedly a humorous and entertaining song, it also serves as a biting critique of American society and culture. The song highlights the many challenges and crises that have occurred over the past 40 years, including political scandals, wars, economic downturns, and cultural shifts. By listing these events in a single song, the song suggests that they are all interconnected and part of a broader trend in American society. At the same time, the song’s repeated refrain that “we didn’t start the fire” suggests that society is not entirely to blame for these problems. Rather, the song suggests that society is a product of its history and that the events listed in the song have shaped the society we live in today. By pointing out these connections and underlying causes, the song encourages listeners to think critically about the society they live in and to work towards making positive changes.
Rick and Morty, a sci-fi cartoon about a sociopathic grandpa (Rick) and his wimpy teenage grandson (Morty), pokes fun at every single aspect of the human condition while entertaining viewers with bizarre and intricate space adventures, character dynamics, and farcical jokes.
The “comic hero” in the case of this series could be exemplified by the two titular characters, Rick and Morty. Rick is entirely self-absorbed and resistant to any kind of emotion, yet his jokes about everybody else’s inferiority are delightfully funny. Morty is an insecure lackey to his grandfather, yet his naivety and optimism about the universe contrast with Rick’s pessimism to the point where to not have Morty is to have just a depressed, alcoholic grandfather.
The concerns of these two characters are nowhere near similar to the concerns of normal people. Whether Rick is being hunted for a war crime he committed or the duo is running from snakes who play jazz, their situations are anything but relatable. However, the comedic moments don’t come from silly aliens or outlandish time travel plots, they come from the stuff of “ordinary people”: the interpersonal interactions. Rick and Morty mostly remain regular, flawed individuals throughout the show. With the backdrop of fantastical space travel, their normality bites through what could be a show based solely on creative sci-fi concepts and is, instead, showing what would happen if one of the most problematic and intelligent people in the world could do anything related to the science fiction genre and was accompanied by his slightly stupid grandson.
The comedy in Rick and Morty is derived from character interactions, but that is also where the meaning of the show is derived. When we see the way that Rick disregards sincerity and attempts from his family to reach out to him, we can laugh at his resistance while also understanding that this behavior is toxic. Audiences can agree that Morty’s obsession with his high school crush is adolescent and hilarious, yet they also realize that changing oneself for another person is ultimately unhealthy. The actions of the characters of Rick and Morty make us laugh at the stupidity of human behavior, but also inspire us to act differently. By watching Rick and Morty fumble and fail in their social lives, we as audiences can understand how we do not want to behave in our own.
A couple months ago, I found myself watching the 2021 disaster film “Don’t Look Up”. The premise of the movie is that an extinction-level asteroid is hurtling towards an inevitable collision with Earth, and the great minds and governments of the world only have six months to prepare for disaster. The film features a star-studded cast list and is a (in my opinion) pretty hilarious but also deeply reflective satire-comedy.
*** (Summary below, it’s sort of long)
The movie opens with the two main characters, Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence), a PhD candidate at Michigan State and Dr. Randall Mindy (Leonardo Dicaprio), her professor, discovering a comet that is unknown to science. Much to their dismay, they actually find out that the comet is on a collision course with earth and will make an impact in six months. At about nine kilometers long, the comet is large enough to cause an extinction-level event on Earth, potentially wiping out humanity. Accompanied by the head of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office leader of NASA, the scientists head to Washington DC to formally inform the president, Janie Orlean. Played by Meryl Streep, Orlean’s character is probably meant to be a riff on several modern politicians/the ridiculous nature of modern politics in general, but she most noticeably represents a lot of the more absurd mannerisms of Donald Trump. The scientists spend an entire day waiting in the lobby of the White House as they are informed that the President is busy figuring out how to confirm her Supreme Court nominee who happens to be an ex-porn star. In an effort to get the news out, Dibiasky and Mindy decide that they will take the risk of leaking the news on a popular television show. Much to their horror, they find that the news anchors, so engrossed in the morning talk show gossip, are not really interested in the comet, apparently not grasping the enormity of the incoming event. Finally, the White House makes time for the scientists, and they inform them that they have confirmed their findings and will do anything in their power to prevent the collision of the comet. However, as Dibiasky points out, this meeting takes place on the heels of news that Orlean herself had a sexual affair with the previously mentioned Supreme Court nominee, and the White House is likely looking for something to divert the public’s attention; an incoming extinction-level asteroid being the perfect candidate. Just as the government is about to launch a mission to destroy the comet using nuclear weapons, Jeff Bezos/Elon Musk global billionaire stand-in Peter Irshwell discovers that the comet actually contains trillions of dollars of rare minerals. Suddenly seeing the opportunity for profit, the government partners with BASH (Irshwell’s company) to devise a plan to mine the comet of its valuables while still destroying it before it makes impact. Of course, this new insanely ambitious plan must be drawn up from scratch before the comet makes impact in only a few months. Whether she genuinely believes it or is brainwashed by the pursuit of power and profits, Orlean and the government forge ahead with Irshwell’s plan, which notably, cuts out other major countries in the world, forcing them to create their own missions. Mindy sells out, becoming the face of the government’s propaganda campaign to not be worried about the comet; helping the government create ads praising the incoming comet for the jobs and boundless opportunity it will create. Outcasted and frustrated, Dibiasky starts a campaign begging people to just “look up” as the comet is now so close to earth that it is visible at night. Trying to quell public panic, Orlean responds with her own campaign with the slogan, “Don’t Look Up”; out of sight, out of mind, right? The comet approaches, and the joint non-US mission to destroy the comet blows up, leaving only BASH’s mission left to save humanity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering it was devised in less than six months, BASH’s comet-mining/comet-destroying mission ends up failing, and suddenly it finally hits Orlean and the elites of the world that the collision is inevitable and humanity is doomed. The comet makes impact, and the movie ends, humanity presumably going extinct in the process.
*** (Summary above, actual analysis below)
I would highly recommend watching this movie on your own because there really is a lot going on and it’s very interesting and quite funny to watch. It may not be the most technically perfect movie, but it’s definitely good for a lot of laughs and some reflection. This brings me to the actual satire of “Don’t Look Up”. Many elements of society from modern politics to the general public’s relationship to science and nature to our TV shows are satirized. Orlean and her completely ridiculous persona are a clear critique of several modern politicians who seem to treat their office as if it is almost some sort of game show. The Supreme Court nominee is definitely a bit absurd, but in modern America, it seems that it is becoming/has become much more possible for traditionally unqualified and generally absurd candidates to arise to occupy our most influential positions of power. Similarly, the president is so engrossed with her approval ratings and her nominee that she lets her politics inform her approach to science, rather than letting science inform her politics, another theme that may seem all too familiar to many Americans. Much like how the president is misguided by the institution of politics, the media is misguided by the need to feed their viewers with the latest gossip on celebrity breakups and fast-paced, easy to understand, dopamine-filled entertainment. The viewer sees that the world of “Don’t Look Up” has devolved into a state where people are unable to process the factual information that is right in front of them. Put simply, the people of “Don’t Look Up” have grossly misidentified the things in the world that are most meaningful and impactful (literally). In this misguided world, people are unable to face reality and the very real and pressing issues that come with it. Dibiasky is eventually driven insane by the fact that people cannot seem to understand that they are literally going to die in six months.
I think all of this comedic, almost drunken ineptitude ties into the themes that the movie’s satire is trying to communicate. I believe the movie is trying to make a commentary on how modern society has become alienated from nature and basic critical thinking. Watered down by a world full of social media and urbanization, where people can basically live their whole lives surrounded by human institutions and societal constructions, people are losing touch with natural reality. The characters of “Don’t Look Up” are plagued by a modern, anthropocentric world, where six months may simply seem like it’s too far away to really care, where everyone assumes that some smart scientist people will fix the problem, and where the nature of the physical world and our own mortality are taken for granted. People are too busy being concerned about what they’ll do on social media tomorrow, where they’ll party over the weekend, living vicariously through celebrities and influencers, or listening to politicians without any semblance of critical thinking, that they are becoming societal robots, so engrossed in finding profits, power, or meaningless satisfaction in human institutions that they can become complicit in the completely insane “Don’t Look Up” narrative (Or similarly ridiculous campaigns that exist today). I’m not trying to say that all of the above-mentioned things are necessarily bad things to participate in – there’s a lot of wonderful things about the modern world, and for most of us, they’re definitely worth indulging in – however, the film is reminding the audience to stay grounded, remembering there’s a world beyond us and beyond humanity, and what happens there DOES matter. In fact, it matters more than most of us can probably comprehend. We may take for granted our institutions, products, and technology, but the undeniable reality is that we are born into a world that is an incredibly complex, interconnected system. While it is important to focus on ourselves, set personal goals, and strive to live our lives how we desire, we need to remember that we are part of a world where our actions can have impact (for good or bad) and where life is fragile.
The movie has a great moment at the end when there is nothing left for the characters to do other than await the incoming impact. Dr. Mindy remarks,“We really did have everything, didn’t we? I mean, when you think about it”. Facing certain doom, the characters finally realize the things that they had taken for granted. Mortality is a constant in everyone’s life, but the comet is a literal reminder to the characters and the audience that life is temporary and no amount of engrossment in modern, anthropocentric institutions can, or should shield us from that. The comet also reminds us that we have the amazing power to be able to think for ourselves, discover science, and have the potential to solve even the most daunting of challenges. It reminds us to be thankful about what we do have, and to be excited to use it to live in a meaningful way. Tragically, in the film, lust for power, money and brain-deadness, sourced from an obsession with the relatively shallow parts of modern humanity, lays to waste the enlightened side of it. The result is an epic collapse in which humanity pays the ultimate price for its ignorance: extinction.
In this way, the film’s satire means to inspire its viewers: to remember to develop critical thinking skills, to be considerate of science, to stay reasonably well informed with the world around them, and to remember that they can be independent agents of change whether it be on a big or small scale. It also promotes an environmental message, reminding its audience that science only matters if people listen to and act on it.
In conclusion, “Don’t Look Up” is a satirical piece that also uses comedy and a dramatic scenario to promote a message of self-awareness to its audience: do not just exist in the modern world; be an active citizen of our global world, capable of resisting the modern world’s worst temptations in favor of experiencing and improving on its best ones. The movie is reminding its viewer to not just exist passively, but to live zealously, think critically, act with purpose, and live life to its fullest.
The article mocks former president, Donald Trump’s notorious statement about building a wall on the border of the United States and Mexico. However, in this rendition, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security has declared that a red privacy curtain now spans 2,000 miles long, separating the two countries. In the speech, Mayorkas explains, “Starting today… when America showers, there’s no way Mexico can see,” because that’s the overwhelming concern. This statement is an over-exaggeration and the author’s way of ridiculing Trump and supporters of the wall because when it’s worded this way, it sounds absurd. While the article is criticizing Americans who want the wall for privacy from Mexico, it’s actually highlighting deep-rooted problems within America like racism, anti-immigration and xenophobia.
The final sentence pulls the whole column together, stating, “At press time, the U.S. population had reportedly hopped in the shower, pulled back the privacy curtain, and asked all 129 million Mexican citizens if they liked what they saw.” This flips the script and rather than Americans criticizing Mexicans, the whole population of Mexico now has a voice to express their opinions about America. The author is mocking Americans for being completely self-absorbed, without a care in the world for people outside their country. This piece forces people (Americans) to reflect on themselves by using satire to present some of America’s monumental issues.
The Menu (2022) captures the snobbery of the upper class and the toxicity of the food industry. The Menu takes place in an exclusive restaurant on an isolated island, with all of the attendants during the film being assumed to be rich aside from the main character, Margo. Margo immediately feels out of place among the rich attendants, and soon finds out from the chef that everyone in the restaurant is going to die by the end of the night.
The film uses exaggeration when portraying how the restaurant operates. The restaurant feels very cult-ish, with the staff living on a secluded island, and having no life outside of preparing food. Aside from the main chef, the staff all sleep in the same room, and spend all of their waking hours working, whether that be meticulously preparing food, or cultivating ingredients in a precise manner. Restaurants, specifically high-end, ones are filled with constant stress surrounding food. The cult-like portrayal of the restaurant in the film mocks the reality of high-end restaurants’ workplace experiences.
Furthermore, the dishes being served throughout the film all have their own meaning, but one that really sticks out to me is the breadless bread plate scene. The head chef gives a speech about bread being the food of the common man, and since they aren’t common folk, they will get no bread. Instead, they receive a plate of sauces made for the bread. One table filled with important employees of a tech giant gets frustrated by this and demands bread, due to the restaurants notoriously for their good bread. They are refused bread. The breadless bread plate serves as a metaphor for the rich being unable to exist without the work of the poor. When there is the sauce and no bread, the sauce is useless. The scene serves as a role reversal, with the important rich people being refused something from the chefs and workers, lower than them in status. The role reversal’s purpose is to mock the rich and in a sense, take away their power with food mockery.
The Menu is a 2022 film directed by Mark Mylod in which a couple travels to a lavish and exclusive restaurant where the famous chef has some sinister surprises as a part of the meal. Here is the trailer:
In the movie, the guests are all extremely affluent people, like a Saveur food critic, an actor, businessmen, and investors. They all seem interested in the status that comes with dining there even more than the actual food itself. The food, however, is in itself a mockery of the absurdity of many fine dining and adventurous restaurants’ menus. One course is a “breadless bread course,” which appears to be just a series of dips. The chef and the workers are also a part of the commentary. The chef is the only one who speaks freely, and when the workers do speak, it is only in response to the chef. The militaristic appearance of the dynamic between the chef and workers is another commentary on the way kitchens are often run. This movie utilizes hyperbole to show the extremity and absurdity of these overly expensive and strictly run restaurants that are used as more of a symbol of status than an actual enjoyable experience by their patrons. The exaggerated working conditions, dishes, and extremity of the ending are all ways the writers are pointing out an actual facet of society. In the end of the movie, the chef announces that all of the customers and staff, including himself, will die at the end of the meal. Again, the extremity serves to highlight the impossible blend of art and commerce and the snobbery of the food industry. While the movie may seem to just mock the rich and the fine dining industry, it also aims to criticize society for change through the sympathy the viewers gain for the characters. The chef has been wrapped into a vicious cycle of forced creativity that has driven him to insanity where he kills himself and everyone else in the restaurant. We also feel bad for the customers that were quite annoying in the beginning. The “no way out” feeling definitely makes the audience think about how entrenched our society is in a status-seeking and money-spending cycle that doesn’t end well for anyone. I really enjoyed this movie and it really made me think.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the longest-running sitcoms in history. It follows a group of pub owners called “The Gang” through all their crazy adventures that take place in the streets of Philadelphia. While other American sitcoms follow very likable, morally sound groups of friends, The Gang is made up of some of the worst people to ever exist. Dennis Reynolds is a sociopath who takes pride in manipulating women. His twin sister, Dee Reynolds, does the same with men and insults those around her. There’s Mac, whose full name is Ronald McDonald, and Charlie, who gives little thought to the crazy plans they hatch. Lastly, there’s Frank, the older “father figure” of the group, who mostly just funds whatever scheme The Gang is trying to pull.
Although the show is beyond insane in terms of what things they do in each episode, they do tackle many political (abortion, gun control, gay marriage) and economic (inflation, The Great Recession, the gas crisis) topics affecting society today with the use of satire. While the characters in the show often have exaggerated takes on these issues, the true message and criticism of society always come out in the end. In an interview with Vice series creator Glenn Howerton, he remarks that “Usually the answer to any extreme political viewpoint is somewhere in the middle, but that’s just not the way we operate. That’s kind of how we are now, two opposing sides screaming at each other and never backing down. It’s horrible for our country, but it’s really fun for our show.”
A prime example in the show where this viewpoint is set up is in the season 9 episode “Gun Fever Too: Still Hot.” After watching Frank promote the second amendment while pulling out two guns on the local news, the rest of The Gang experience two differing responses. Dennis and Dee immediately start rallying to get ALL guns off these streets and completely abolish them from America. Mac and Charlie team up with Frank and rally to get guns everywhere, even in schools. Neither side has any previous knowledge or has done research about gun rights or gun control. However, they refuse to listen to each other because they are convinced they are completely right while the other side is completely wrong. This is exactly what’s happening in American society today. While having two opposing sides with very exaggerated viewpoints makes a very entertaining plot to watch, it’s horrible for our country because we never seem to make progress on these important issues.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia holds a mirror to American society. The Gang is very stubborn and they don’t listen to the rational society around them. They go through each episode and have all these new experiences but they never seem to learn anything from them. While this is a completely fictional tv show, and it may be funny to see people take these extreme viewpoints, it’s not very fun to see them playing out in real life. This show has become a voice for a divided nation, slowly moving toward complete chaos.
While the American Psycho (2000) film gained a sort of cult following with all its corporate gore, the original novel by Bret Easton Ellis was actually a dark, satirical commentary on a heavily consumerist and capitalistic society that destroys the morality of those who participate. Ironically enough though, that meaning got lost in a juvenile lack of media literacy.
American Psycho is full of situational and verbal irony, starting in the first few pages with our main character, Patrick Bateman, being described as “the boy next door”. Though, as the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Bateman is anything but, what with his nighttime life that consists of brutally torturing women to death. The novel is full of ridiculous and inane moments including a persistent obsession with brand names, business cards, and Donald Trump. Verbal irony, for example, is shown in moments such as when in a club, Bateman is talking to a woman who asks him what he does for a living. He says “murders and executions” right to her face, but the woman too wrapped up in her own materialistic world believes he said “mergers and acquisitions”.
While there are several running jokes throughout the novel, the most prevalent one is the joke that all corporate yuppies look and act the same, which is humorous, but largely serves as a critique of that culture; Bateman is able to get away with everything he does because no one notices or cares. Coworkers are frequently mistaken for other coworkers, friends for other friends, and so forth but Bateman, to our knowledge, is the only character that notices and we watch as he devolves into an extreme obsession with fitting in while also spiraling into increasingly violent crime.
A majority of the irony in American Psycho is that Bateman, in his attempt to fit in, seem cool to his peers, and exert his hatred and masculinity onto lower-class women, actually is one of literature’s biggest losers. Bateman is so obsessed with the image he’s putting out that he actually has no sense of self at all, opting to define his character by the thread count of his Valentino jackets.
The original intention of the novel was to critique America’s capitalistic culture that is devoid of all morality but unfortunately, the film essentially destroyed nearly all chances of it doing so. Given that the novel is largely psychological, it is hard to get the essence of American Psycho to accurately translate to a screen, even if the movie is well made. Bret Easton Ellis himself said that “American Psycho was a book I didn’t think needed to be turned into a movie” because the novel functioned amazingly well as a satire and dark comedy, but could not be made into a movie without turning into the very mindset it was critiquing.
In the Onion an article called Parents “Trick Child Into Eating More Vegetables By Hitting Him If He Doesn’t Eat Vegetables” explains how two parents hit their kid to make him eat his vegetables. In Dayton, Ohio it explains how the parents think they have found the best solution to having his kid eat his vegetables. They decide to hit their kid on the back of the head if he decides to not eat his vegetables. Their explanation to hitting his is so that he is more inclined to eat the vegetables than to “endure the thrashing”. They would tell their son that if they ate the essentials for growing up and to become strong enough he would be able to fight back.
The Irony to this story is that the parents aren’t supposed to be hitting their kids to become stronger. The parents are seemed to be thrashing their son because he is not eating vegetables but in reality the fact is that this doesn’t happen on a normal basses. Beating a kid over not eating vegetables is very unreasonable and it is Irony because it shows the dramatic response for not eating vegetables. Beating a kid is very out of line which would make the irony dramatic.
This article in the Onion shows the dramatic response from a parent doing something that some don’t even believe needs disciplinary actions. It also shows the opposite of what a parent should be treating their child. In the article it says that they have found a good tactic of getting their son to do what they think is right. Which is doing it by hitting him which is the opposite putting a child in pain and forcing them to do something isn’t right and they will resent you. Which is what the article is portraying because at the end it says when they grow up they will be able to defend themselves. Which isn’t a correct relationship to have between a child and a parent. The parent should love and take care of the kid they put into the world and not put them in pain and have them protect themselves from them.
The show ATLANTA follows an up-and-coming rapper and his group from Atlanta, Georgia trying to make it big in the music industry. But this seemingly innocent plot is precisely why ATLANTA feels different when watching it. The show takes events and stereotypes in real life and completely flips our original perception of them. By using realism in how they shoot and make different scenes they then add surrealism to the story which creates a new experience that forces you to look at old ideas and stereotypes in a new light.
In the third season, there is an episode called, “The Big Payback,” where a whole new cast is introduced and no context is needed from the previous storyline. It takes place in a time when reparations for African American enslavement are legal and white people are being sued for millions of dollars. The episode follows a white guy named Marshall who is partially divorced, makes a middle/upper-class income, and most importantly minds his own business. All aspects of his life start to flip when his job starts laying off people whose ancestors were not enslaved. A white coworker looking at her DNA chart yelled, “100% Nordic! Are you kidding me,” then a black coworker passed by and laughed. She snapped back at him and said, “This concerns all of us Will,” and he replied, “No it don’t Ash.” This satirical hyperbole exposes how white people have ignored the repercussions of slavery by having exactly what happened to many black fathers start to happen to Marshall. By completely going into a very uncomfortable topic and juxtaposing our original perceptions of what reparations mean to African Americans we can gain a fresh new perspective on the awkward situation between people.
Despite his job being on the line Marshall isn’t very concerned with what’s going on until after he gets home that night. A black woman named Sheniqua Johnson showed up at his house and sued him for giving her $3 million because his family owned her ancestors. In the scene, she storms into his house claiming it was hers, and starts rambling on about how nice of a house he has so therefore he must have money to pay her. This flip of the narrative traces back to how white people arrived in Africa and bought slaves without their consent. Marshall eventually gets her out of his house but is very confused about how or why this is happening to him. Eventually, he loses his job, custody of his daughter, and social life in the span of a day just as Sheniquas ancestors went through. Marshall is initially very angry because he didn’t do anything to deserve the treatment he’s getting, this exposes the feelings African Americans went through even after slavery. To African Americans, slavery still haunts them in ways that only they can see, Marshall gives us another perspective of how he feels when he gets taken advantage of for something he couldn’t prevent.
ATLANTA pokes fun at the idea of how serious reparations mean to African Americans. By using a very realistic scenario in a very surreal way we can uncover a layer behind the scenes of ordinary life. It’s only when this superficial layer is broken down that we can see Marshall’s perspective just as well as Sheniquas’s. Bringing this surreal scenario to life in a modern-day outlook toy’s with our minds in more ways than some jump scare movies. Because of course, African Americans would never just start suing white people for reparations because they didn’t do anything to deserve it. But just as their ancestors were forced into enslavement and were caused much harm in systematic ways to this day, it makes you reconsider and think more deeply about why they are asking for these levels of compensation.