Sep. 23rd, 2010

telerib: (uhh)
Student newspaper editors of America:

Unless you are editing the 'edgy' obscene humor-n-sex rag on campus, listen up. If a piece comes across your desk, and that piece is full of really hateful and derogatory language...

...no, I get that you're a student paper. Of course you're going to want to stick it to The Man or The Feminists or whomever your writers have decided is the Root of All Evil this week. But make them use grown-up words instead of playground insults, mkay? ...

...really full of that crap, stop a moment. Go to the author and ask, "The hell were you thinking?"

And if that author says, "But it's a satire!"

Stop.

Do not print.

98% of Americans can't tell the f'ing difference between parody, satire and sarcasm. College students know that satire is an Important Literary Device and will try to slap that label on any piece of garbage they write that's offensive.

Can satire offend? That is its purpose; of course it can! But chances are, you have not been presented with an incisive work of satire. You have been presented with a screed, either sarcastic (in which case the tone will not convey well in print) or genuine, and the author is hiding behind the 'satire' label when s/he realizes that People Who Matter are taking exception.

If you are in doubt, consult an expert. An English professor should in theory suffice. Otherwise, send it to me. If I get enough, I will open the Satire Certification Society. We will license Americans to write satire. If the author can present proof of membership is the SCS, then s/he has demonstrated a firm grasp of the principles of satire and the chances are good that the piece you are looking at is, in fact, a satire. Otherwise, refer the author to your campus obscene humor-n-sex rag.

(Prompted by the JHU 'bison' piece, which fails as satire on at least two levels.)

August 2014

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