Monday, October 22, 2007

Not satire, thank you very much

Satire and fake news (interchangeable terms for most people, though they're not the same thing) have become increasingly popular forms of social commentary. Well-written stories trade on their plausibility - absurd enough to catch the eye, but plausible enough not to be dismissed out of hand. It may be a bad sign, however, when 'serious' media feel a need to preface surprising headlines with a "non-satire disclaimer"., a site dedicated to news about 'occupied Iraq', reports a surprising decision by the Swedish courts determining that Iraq is not under armed conflict. The headline is preceded by a large "* * * NOT SATIRE * * *" notice. Have we done our job too well? Will other media outlets follow suit (or will they be uncertain whether they can make the claim)?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Stephen Colbert's world - we just live in it

Satirical persona Stephen Colbert is unabashedly self-aggrandizing, mimicking the art of punditry so well that he makes the real articles look pale in comparison. It was, therefore (in hindsight) almost inevitable that the self-anointed great man would answer America's 'call for a hero' - a call which only his superior hearing can make out! - and run for President, at least on the South Carolina ballot.

Most people seem amused by the notion of a comedian entering the race for president, though most also seem to feel that he cannot possibly harm the dignity and sanctity of the process since it is already trailing along in the mud, on various levels. However what makes Colbert a dangerous candidate is the same thing that makes him a dangerous talk-show host: his utter lack of hypocrisy. He embraces the absurd, takes the most alarming doctrines of the right and pursues them to their 'logical' conclusions. Where most public figures gloss over inconsistencies in their positions or unpopular issues, Colbert charges forth, ostensibly blind to all but the beautiful music of his own drummer.

The Colbert Report is first-class satire in the truest sense of the term (as opposed to the amusing, but less trenchant parodies of The Daily Show) and it is a treat to see the man himself enter an already surreal ring at the peak of his powers. Whatever happens in South Carolina, it is sure to be interesting.

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Satire pervades the web, seeping into mailboxes and mainstream news like a spilled cup of coffee. It stains and it won't go away.

The Bitter Cup is a collaborative blog for members of HumorFeed, a collaborative of satire and humor sites that has been making trouble since 2003.