Does satire actually work?

Google image search results: Jabba the Trump

The classic example of political satire is Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” in which the Irish author, writing ironically, suggests that the poor families of Ireland might ease their burden and contribute to society by selling their children as food for English aristocrats. This was in 1729, after which England immediately began treating the Irish well. Either that, or right-thinking people agreed Swift was a genius and went on treating poor people like dirt for the next three centuries. I mention this gap between reception and effect on the occasion of this hilarious McSweeney’s piece by Jeff Loveness, titled This is the Political Satire That Finally Stops Trump. A taste:

I tweet my “Jabba the Trump” meme for the world to see. The knife of satire twists deep. In a moment, I am flooded by dozens of retweets, ranging from friends who share my political opinions to strangers on the internet who also share my political opinions—the chorus of America itself. My tweet lights the spark, and the fires of rebellion burn bright.

You think it’s going to be one-note, and it kind of is, but the crescendo is so strong that we don’t miss the melody. It also makes an uncomfortable point: Now that Trump has ascended to power through sheer absence of shame, what can mockery and ridicule accomplish?

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Glenn Beck cries, longing for America of old commercials


Do you remember a simpler time, when America was not so much a postindustrial superpower struggling to compete in a globalized economy as it was a hallway with Mean Joe Greene in it? Or when our national discourse was not so much the difficult process of reconciling changing demographics with a shared tradition as it was a series of decontextualized images from family reunions? Glenn Beck remembers that time, and he wants to know how we can go back to it. “America has never been a perfect place, but we used to be united,” he says solemnly. “If a politician told you right now that he could make that happen again, that you could go back to those simpler times when people were together, you’d do it in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you?” Beck goes on to say that, of course, no politician could do that for us, before spending a few minutes explaining to us how we could go back to that simpler time by following his instructions, which he conveys via an extremely confusing metaphor. Watching Glenn Beck use logic to construct an analogy is like watching a woman hit her kid at the supermarket.

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