Satire has been around for centuries, dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece. The word satire is usually applied to literature which voices social criticism. The job of the satirist is to hold vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, employing wit and political humor as effective weapons. There are many satire examples, there is political satire, social satire, news satire, satirical cartoons, even satirical poetry and music.
The satirist also commonly employs strong irony or sarcasm—“in satire, irony is militant”- but parody, burlesque, exaggeration and juxtaposition comparison, analogy and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech, art and writing. This “militant” irony or sarcasm often professes to approve of (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist wishes to attack. Think satirical “conservative” entertainer Stephen Colbert and his Colbert Report.
Satire is nowadays found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as lyrics as well as visual media like the political humor of the editorial cartoonist, and in some paintings. I have even attempted political humor or satire in some of my work.
Mistress Sarah’s Dungeon is political satire of the humorous kind, created according to my own twisted sense of humor . The 2008 presidential campaign, like most modern campaigns was ripe for political satire. The way I see it Mrs. Palin’s appeal is mainly her pageant queen looks and style. Her selling points are all about image and sex appeal, not intelligence and ideas. In my own exaggerated way, I wanted to show the damage another conservative Republican presidency could do to this nation. When searching for a symbol of our country I looked no further than the obvious Uncle Sam image to try to build instant rapport. I realize some may think this image goes to far, but I humbly submit my work as social criticism and myself as satirist vulnerable to the same critique that all satire will receive.
In many cases the satirist walks a fine line, whatever the discipline he or she employs. Their social criticism may be offensive to some, and some topics are not deemed appropriate for use as vehicles even for political humor. In some nations, limitations on freedom of speech can also impact makers of political satire. For example, some nations have laws which make it illegal to “injure” the monarchy, and thus satirists must watch their step or end up imprisoned or fined. Likewise, producers of social criticism have sometimes been accused of defamation or slander by the targets of their ” witty” political humor.
People can approach careers in political satire from a number of perspectives. Some are graduates of art schools or writing programs who are interested in humor, others are performers, but most satirical visual artists develop their voice semi-independently. Fine art schools are not known for producing painters of satire. Exposure to the biting social criticism of painters like Robert Coelscott, Jerome Whitkin, and Eric Fischl was especially helpful to me.
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