Friday, October 11, 2013

Satire provides humor, reasons for change

8:00 AM

Jacob Miller
Staff Writer

Merriam-Webster defines satire as “a way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, weak or bad,” which is exactly what Ted & Company did at the Monday convocation on Sept. 30.

Ted & Company began with a scene in which a salesperson sold an “enemy” to an unassuming man, and through the integration of several sketches, the two actors developed an argument against war and militarism.

Joe Thompson, freshman from Haysville, noted, “I was laughing in that convocation ninety percent of the time.” Thompson enjoys it when people incorporate humor when expressing their viewpoints. “The banana sketch was definitely my favorite part. It was spot on, and it made me pay attention.”

“Satire is a safe way to point out the ugly side of our culture without making people too defensive,” said John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of Communications. “Without satire, we might remain ignorant of the ridiculous aspects of our society.”

Satire in American society has evolved over time, from Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” in the 1800s to current television shows such as Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” Stephen Colbert’s “The Colbert Report” and satirical newspapers like The Onion.

Almost a year ago, China’s state newspaper goofed and cited The Onion as a credible source, confirming North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as the “Sexiest Man Alive.” McCabe-Juhnke offered his explanation on the scenario. “Satire is lost in language translation, so other cultures can find it hard to understand the context of the communication.” So other cultures understand their own home-grown satire but not satire from other countries.

Satire is also omnipresent closer to home, as McCabe-Juhnke explained. “Satire is alive and well at Bethel, as we tend to thrive on derisive humor.”

Thompson valued satire beyond its entertainment value as well. “Satire helps relate confusing political topics to younger generations. No satire, and younger people aren’t as likely to care about certain issues,” he said.

While satire offers a unique, humorous way to prompt change, not everyone is for it. Marvin Rice, junior from Ontario, Calif., said, “I have mixed feelings. Satire makes you pay attention, but you don’t always get all the information about the topic that you need.”

So like it or not, satire will always be an effective way to promote societal change.

If you want to learn more about Ted & Company or satire in general, you can visit or for additional information.



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