Still kidless. Now husbandless. But no longer in suburbia.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Satire takes a beating when truth is so ridiculous | Freep.c
Not currently in possession of an original thought, I will let Leonard Pitts Jr of the Detroit Free Press speak for me today. He got it SO right...and look at the comments readers made. Irony piled up upon irony.
I teach English at a community college, and it is sad, but I do think there is a growing divide between those able to think critically and those unable to do so. A growing segment of our society has zero ability to grasp satire, and while I don't think the New Yorker needs to cater to the teeming, uneducated masses out there, it's a shame that their cover is actually feeding into people's fears rather than illuminating how silly they are.
On another note, I'm going to print out this article as he wrote the most clear explanation of satire I have read in a long time. I'll have my students read this, show them the cover, and see what they have to say. I fear it won't be a pretty discussion though....
Bella, I'm so glad that you found the article useful and will use it in your class. I work with young adults as well. Your point about the growing inability to grasp satire is right on the mark. My students tend to take things very literally. I think that the only way to learn to think critically and understand nuance is through reading. For the most part, my students dislike reading. I haven't found a way to combat this problem.
I would love to hear how the discussion turns out in your class.
People who understand satire are the ones who have opened their minds to other ways of thinking. The ones who don't - either don't care to know anymore than their ignorance allows, or do not have the mental capacity for it. It's like looking at the drawing of a woman and being able to see a beautiful woman, as well as a witch. These people choose to only see one or the other.
Great post, Liz.
I think part of the problem is that we're becoming used to (and complacent to) having things (facts, ideals, wants, needs, etc.) crammed down our collective throat by the media (schools, friends, family, people on the internet, etc.) that many people wouldn't know what to do with an original thought of their own.
I think it's all about what point of view and set of ideals is mashed into a person's head first as to what they "believe" and then whatever they see after that point either reinforces that "belief" or is attacked viciously with name-calling and pigeon-holing because it's obviously wrong. Thinking really doesn't seem to factor into the equation.
How many times do you see an article like that followed up with a slew of "racist", "liberal", "terrorist", "America hater" name-calling type comments? I'm constantly left thinking:
"Where are the original thoughts? I've read all of these comments before in the last article that had anything to do with politics."
When I was in high school I used to describe my education as "memorization and regurgitation". (Which is really a thought for another time, but...) Reading many articles and blog posts (and the inevitable comments) these days and it seems like that's what people are being "taught" to do...
Note to my comment above: This wasn't meant to be an attack on any teachers we may have present here. ;)
Correction, too: My original comment should have said in the first paragraph "...media (PLUS schools..."
@Colette, yes, precisely.
@Jeremy, interesting what you say about your schooling being "memorization and regurgitation." I'm not a teacher, but I tutor middle and upper school students. Despite what seems to be Herculean efforts on the part of the board of ed and (some) teachers to create effective curricula, the kids don't seem inspired or challenged in a meaningful way. I really don't know what can/should be done about it.
I'm not really sure what can be done about it either but I guess that the point I was trying to make is that it seems to me that more people just say the same things that a few "thinkers" or unintelligent but vocal people have already said. We seem to be becoming a society of trained parrots that "memorize and regurgitate" or "google it" if they don't already have a prepackaged argument.
It seems that it's much easier to call someone a "stupid liberal" or a "racist" and parrot the same tired comments than to understand that people have different values, beliefs, backgrounds and to try to get beyond the name calling and finger pointing and try to think about real issues.
It seems that the arguments and comments that are made to articles many times don't even address anything that was even vaguely touched upon in a story sometimes. You read a favorable story about Obama and there's bound to be a few "stupid liberal" comments insulting the writer and other people making comments. You read an unfavorable story about him and there will be a few "you're a racist" type comments in there.
Back to the topic of satire, though: It's tricky to get satire if you're used to being force fed information and believing 100% that that information is true and then making a snap decision as to whether it's right because it agrees with your views or wrong because it doesn't.
Someone who isn't well versed in the fine art of thinking looks at a cover image like that and thinks immediately either a) it's spot on or b) it's offensive based on what they already believe about Obama. Satire doesn't factor into the equation because that would require thought beyond just interpreting what is being shown and I think that, as a society, we're becoming less capable of that level of thought.
@Jeremy, absolutely. I usually don't comment on stories from mainstream news sites because I feel like it will get lost among the mindless responses. This is especially true on topix.com sites where almost all of the comments are anonymous.
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