Monday, February 19, 2018

Black Mirror

Black Mirror takes a look at modern society, specifically focusing on the advancements of new technology. Episodes are standalone, and take place in the future. They usually have a more dark and satirical theme throughout the episodes. Each episode takes issues that take place in our world today, but sets it in the future and goes through how advancements in technology can take an effect. For example, one episode is about the dying bee population, which is a prevalent issue in our world today. The episode is about the solution to the declining bee population, which are robotic bees that can carry out the same functions as a real bee. This advancement in technology is great because it allows peoples lives to be unaffected, while never having to deal with the real issue at hand. However, the making of robotic bees has a set of issues of its own. As the episode progresses it is made clear that the bees are having issues, and the original company who has designed and manufactured these bees are not in control anymore. The bees end up  being taken over by an unknown person/terrorist and used to target and kill people. This goes into the deeper meaning of the show. It takes real issues in our world, and shows how of instead of solving the actual issue you cover it up with advancements in technology it will not work out.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening. It is a satirical depiction of a working-class family of five; the Simpsons. The show is set in a fictional town called Springfield and depicts the life of American culture, society, and television. The father, Homer, works as a safety inspector at a Nuclear Powerplant although his buffoonish and clumsy personality. He is married to Marge, the stereotypical housewife. Their oldest Bart, is the troublemaker, Lisa the smart child, and Maggie the baby of the family. Although the family is dysfunctional, the show describes and examines the relationship and bond the family shares.

By using exaggeration and sarcasm the show is considered satire. It satirizes all aspects of normal life along from home life of the average American family to global politics. The show has made fun of past and present presidents on multiple occasions portraying them as an exaggerated version of themselves.

Throughout the showings of The Simpsons, not only has it made its viewers laugh, but it has also sparked thoughts in people's minds. The Simpsons appeals to audiences of all ages due to its constant jokes and stupidity which isn't difficult to understand  but also adults who can laugh at the low comedy but also understand the biting satire that is the true meaning behind the series. 

Teacher's Gun Policy: OPRF should consider (Satire)

Based on the very recent and devastating shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the nation is in uproar on gun policy. Who should be able to purchase guns? How can we protect ourselves from gun violence? Is anyone ever eligible to buy a gun? It is questions such as these that have been popular in the recent days. Although, focusing specifically on gun violence in the high school setting, there is one question in particular that has come to surface. Should teachers have a gun for the safety of themselves and their students?

Our community should consider this question and possibly make this theory into a reality. There are several aspects to this plan that would create a positive impact both in school and out of school for students. One main impact is students would be much more attentive in the classroom. Clearly, teacher's have the dominating power in class because students fear that they may get in trouble if they act out of line. Despite this, there are always a few students that may misbehave and distract both other students and the teacher. Having a gun would make these children completely submissive. Knowing that one's Calculus or English teacher could whip out a firearm at any second may put some sense into the kids that don't listen. Scaring the students half to death may be the answer to a more productive classroom. Ultimately this would create a more positive environment for the students and teachers. The teacher's can lecture without being interrupted and the students will focus on the learning material. There is no time for socializing when safety is on the line.

More positives would be for students and their out of school lives. Homework completion and test scores would be expected to go on the rise. Most likely, this would be due to the fear of knowing that their teacher possesses a gun and that if they got a bad grade or did not complete an assignment, they may be subject to being held at gunpoint. Undoubtedly, the attempt to not have some "one on one time" with the teacher would boost academic performance. There seems to be no better way to motivate people than fear. 

Not only would it impact student performance in such a dramatic manner, but teachers would feel more secure with a gun as well. If a school were to go on lock down, there is no more need to lock the doors. Teachers, if properly trained can be useful in such situations. For example, if the invader were to come into a classroom, he/she would not expect the teacher to have a firearm. Why have Emergency Responders when the teacher could do the job for them?

Clearly I have demonstrated several ways that schools all around the country may benefit from a school with guns policy. Now it is time to implement this plan into our own community. So OPRF, strip off those "No guns allowed" stickers from every window and dive into the new generation of teaching. Lets load those pistols and fire this plan into action to create a more successful school environment.


Gun Fever Outside of Just Philadelphia

For my blog post I chose to critique an episode of the T.V. show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. In their episode, Gun Fever Too: Still Hot, the Philadelphia gang uses extreme hyperbole, mass hysteria, and irony to shed light on how ridiculous the US’s approach to gun control is. Throughout the episode, Dee and Dennis dramatically shift view points from thinking guns as a whole should be outlawed; All the way over to believing  that every single citizen in the U.S. should be packing heat. This shift is dramatized by the fact that they cannot themselves legally purchase a gun, which would assert that Gun Laws in the U.S. are strict enough, if it were not for the fact that they were both convicted felons. Moreover, even being convicted felons, they were still who on the verge of getting guns were they able to keep their emotions in check long enough to not ridicule the gunshot owner. The irony behind them not being able to get a gun after they critiqued how easy it, was in itself ironic because it is insinuating that even for people as unhinged and violent as them, getting a gun in America is simply too easy.

Furthermore, the show uses the mass hysteria of the American public who believe their Second Amendment rights are about to be infringed upon to show how ridiculous gun nuts in the U.S. are. The sad thing about this is that while the show attempts to use Hyperbole to depict the publics reaction, it is more similar to the real world reaction than different. People’s rush to buy arms is completely the same as the publics recent rush to buy the bump stock which turns single shot assault rifles into burst/automatic weapons.

While this episode is hilarious and clearly is trying to make a point about weak gun laws in the U.S., as people react more and more similarly to the hyperbole of the show, the jokes becomes less funny and agenda pushing, and more of a harsh reality that U.S. citizens are struggling to deal with.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Shameless


Shameless, an American comedy series, I believe uses a satirical lens in order to portray its main messages of the realities of poverty.

Eldest sister Fiona Gallagher takes care of her five younger siblings Lip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam in place of her drunk father Frank, and absent addict and bipolar mother Monica. In the south side of Chicago, the Gallagher's tackle a new obstacle every episode.

Lip started his own business of taking teenager's SAT tests for them. He would take the test and earn them a high score that could then allow them to attend college with a scholarship. What Lip was doing was obviously illegal on many accounts, which is why there is a strict procedure of providing some form of photo identification for the SAT and ACT now. Lip had to jump through legal hoops in order to make money for his family. Lip's cheating also puts into perspective how little opportunities people have due to the issue of money. The SAT and ACT tests are all about figuring out the test, not being a genius. It takes practice to do well on those tests. However that practice costs money, as do tutors, and prep classes, which is a socioeconomic disadvantage to those who cannot afford such luxuries. This is just one example of how the Gallagher's come up with seemingly dangerous and comical ideas in order to make money highlights the issue of poverty and toxic capitalism. I believe Shameless does an adequate job of using parody in order to bring attention to the growing class gap and by doing so are attempting to change our society through awareness.  


Dr. Strangelove

Kubrick's 1964 comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb uses satire to make humor out of an incredibly dark subject. The film was based upon a novel called Red Alert, which was intended to be a realistic analysis of what would happen should a nuclear attack be accidentally launched. Kubrick kept the attention to detail and realism found in the novel's plot, yet performed it with hugely exaggerated characters. The soldiers, generals, and politicians all portray their respective stereotypes to the extreme, humorously criticizing our nation's leadership while still adhering to the dark plot line.

The movie switches between three main settings: the bomber plane, the rouge airbase from which it was launched, and the US war room. Kubrick uses satire most heavily in the war room, where leaders sit around a lavish table having pedantic arguments over what to do. This premise itself is ironic, as while war rages on in the other two locations, the men chosen to save us are fruitlessly bickering. One expects them to eventually come up with some brilliant solution, but instead the conversation simply shifts from saving the world to their own personal survival plans as the situation becomes more bleak. Many of the important characters in the war room are satires of specific politicians of the time. The character of President Merkin Muffley, for example, is a jab at real life presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson. Muffley remains calm throughout the film, but is incredibly unassertive and neutral to the point where he's useless. This parody of Stevenson's own mild mannered nature is best seen in the famous quote "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!", which Muffley delivers completely unaware of its irony. Also in the room is General Turgidson, a jingoistic exaggeration of the war crazy generals of the time. He's constantly pushing to launch a full attack on Russia and is overly concerned with any "gaps" (areas where Russia is ahead of the US) he can find. Dr. Strangelove himself is a parody of the Nazi scientists the US brought over to work on our missile programs following the end of WWII. While he claims to now be helping us against the Russians, he keeps accidentally referring to the President as "Mein Fuhrer" and doing the Nazi salute with his prosthetic arm. The other leaders completely ignore this obvious allegiance to the Nazi party as Strangelove is likely the only one who can save them, poking fun at our nation's willingness to work with these horrible war criminals in order to beat the Russians in the arms race.

The film's ending is as pessimistic as its premise, making the time wasted by the huge personalities in the war room incredibly frustrating. By portraying it like this Kubrick was able to not only highlight the dangers of nuclear war, but also criticize how our politicians' stubbornness, idealism, and self-interest would make them utterly ineffective in stopping such a conflict.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Snack Life


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCG_i9lnBFc
Above is a link to a video clip called "The Snack of Life" , from the daily show with Jon Stewart.

Jon Stewart uses hyperbole, verbal irony/sarcasm, and understatements to create a work of satire. Health experts say that a lot of foods are filled with poisons, are fattening, and contains lots of artificial chemicals and antibiotics. Stewart questions what fast food companies will do about this and goes on to exaggerate what food companies say they are going to do about this issue. He describes, that food companies are saying "forget your health study" and "you can stick your study's where the sun don’t shine". Food companies aren’t actually saying these things or they would be in trouble. However, it appears that they are basically saying these things because they choose to ignore the studies. Furthermore, Stewart goes on with his work by using and understatement, "Making food slightly less bad for you craze is spreading". His sarcastic tone in this understatement suggest that the food in general is still bad for you. There is no such thing is slightly more healthy, it's either healthy or it's not. Finally, Stewart describes,  “Chicken without antibiotics, well now I’m conflicted. I want healthier food but I’ll miss treating my ear infection with the Buffalo Ranch Mchicken”. Verbal irony and sarcasm are used here,  what Stewart actually means is that the slight healthier food craze is ridiculous. It's just a tease or an act food companies are putting on in order to continue to sell their products. The use of hyperbole, verbal irony/sarcasm, understatements help to create of work of satire because Stewart is ultimately criticizing fast food companies.

At the end of the video Stewart describes how Kraft is being considered a healthy food by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If fast food companies are paying health places money to say that their food is healthy, you know their is a problem with the system. It’s all about the money, the food companies don’t care about our health and apparently neither do the health companies. Stewart also criticizes people for buying into crazy of slightly healthier food. We need to stop eating junk food that is disguised as health food. The world is all about convenience these days, “How quick can I get it”. Instead, we should really looking into the companies we are buying these foods from to see what they are really about and spend more time preparing healthier foods.

Mean Girls

Mean Girls is a movie that is very popular. It exhibits an outsider entering the teenage sphere of high school. Cady, the main character, is from Africa where she was immersed in observing animals. When she comes to high school, she notices that the behavior the other student’s exhibit are much like those of wild animal’s. Through Cady’s perspective, the movie shows how animalistic and cruel high school can be. She compares the many social groups to herd of animals. High school, in reality, is not exactly like this. The exaggeration of how strict society is, however, reveals that there are, in fact, some rules that people think they must oblige to.Some of the satiric aspects in this movie are how “the plastics” act. They live according to strict rules such as wearing pink on Wednesdays, avoiding sweatpants, and avoiding hoop earrings (they are solely Regina’s thing). Adherence to these rules can buy one popularity while ignorance of these rules takes popularity away. Rules such as these seem comical at first glance but they are a hyperbole of modern societal rules. In reality, no one will be kicked out of the lunch table for not wearing pink on Wednesday (hopefully). By over exaggerating high school, this movie advocates for an escape from societal pressures to a more laid back culture where one’s appearance or popularity are not the determining factor for their personality. Similarly, with the plastics, the movie suggest a superficial aspect of society. The movie’s solution to this is to just be honest, as revealed in the end when all the girls gather in the gym. When muddled with pretenses and facades, the movie claims that, society becomes hostile. Also, the movie depicted high school as a jungle. When the animals, who were represented by the students, did not work with each other harmoniously, the jungle fell apart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ahmLuuQNKg

Watch Out For That Black Ice!

Before you read this, you may want to watch the video that I am referencing... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efiW2K8gASM

So Key and Peele are two of my favorite comedians, and when put together, they are unstoppable. A lot of their skits have a deeper meaning and target social issues in our world, but this specific one hits close to home. 

In "Black Ice," Key and Peele come across white news reporters that are reporting on a snowstorm- a snow storm with "black ice." Black ice is deemed to be significantly more dangerous and can "sneak up" on nice neighborhoods. The way the reporters say "black ice" sounds very close to "black guys." Key and Peele argue that while black ice is always reported and is deemed terrible, regular old white snow blizzards are never targeted and go untouched. Clearly, K & P are referring to our world's perception of black vs. white. 

A common theme in the news nowadays is black men being shot by white officers. The majority of the time, the men shot were doing nothing wrong. Take Laquan McDonald for example. Walking down the street, not running, just walking away from an officer. Literally doing nothing wrong. However, the responding police officer deemed it just to shoot this 17-year old boy 16 times in the back- only 10 feet away from him. Now obviously, this is an extreme circumstance, but it is often the case that just by being black, people are deemed dangerous and worthy of being shot. 

K & P use a metaphor (black ice = black guys) to emphasize the ever-present racism in our society. The metaphor is easy to understand and is even furthered by the fact that the two terms are homonyms. Furthermore, situational irony is used when K & P are clearly talking about black men, which the audience understands, but the white reporters do not. 

Towards the end, K & P get upset by the white reporters ignorance and continue on to explain how hard it really is to be black in our society. Being constantly watched, judged, and not understood- it is significantly harder than being white. 

While being hilarious simultaneously, K & P successfully get across their message that racism, however much we want to believe is gone, is still present in our society. While slavery itself is gone, white men are still the majority and are still not making it easy for black men to advance in life. The government (snow plows) are constantly trying to take the black man (black ice) down, but always leave the white men (white snow) alone. 

Sean Spicer Press Conference

Sean Spicer Press Conference (Melissa McCarthy) - SNL

By now everyone has watched an SNL sketch that has particularly stuck out to them. With recent political events in 2017, SNL took every opportunity to capitalize on the hilarious events that have been televised in the past few months. McCarthy perfectly captures the essence of Spicer, a political figure whose appearances have revolved around alternative facts and aggressiveness. Twice, McCarthy physically attacked reporters with the podium, threatening others who she didn't agree with to stick them "in the corner with CNN." McCarthy engages in a battle of wills with the press, bullying Bobby Moynihan's reporter and going on a rant about the language of the Trump administration's executive order on immigration.

The sketch mainly uses the technique of parody but also hyperbole. McCarthy's use of hyperbole brings attention to the ridiculousness of Spicer's press conference at the time. McCarthy, as Spicer, parodied the White House's delivery of questionable facts to the media during briefings, announcing Trump's Supreme Court justice pick, Neil Gorsuch.
The crowd greeted him with a standing ovation which lasted a full fifteen minutes, and you can check the tape on that. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was happy. The men all had erections, and every single one of the women was ovulating left and right. And no one, no one was sad
The irony of the sketch was that they did not highlight any weak aspects about Spicer. Rather McCarthy portrayed him as a bruised, bellowing alpha male. Using these techniques of satire further the comedic effect of the sketch. Hyperbole continues throughout the whole of the sketch, increasing the laughter which helps to bring attention to the absurdity of the actual press conferences given by Spicer himself and the Trump administration.

Not a week goes by where SNL does not provide any satirical substance. The comments and jabs that SNL makes about our current political climate are some to poke fun at but also to bring our attention to how our government and political leaders are acting like preschool bullies. Now more then ever is it important to keep up to date with current politics, and SNL attracts the attention of all ages not just those of the older generation. Social media has a heavy influence on voters today, but with social media comes the difficulty to separate the truth from the lies. These sketches inform us to pay attention to what is going on in politics and to never not question whether something being said is the factual truth. Politics can be a touchy subject, but for SNL they employ humor as a way to help convey the larger meaning of any of their sketches.

No Joke! Analyzing or Creating Satire

Option #1: Complete two blog posts over the course of the unit, analyzing satire and Comedy in contemporary culture

Option #2: Write an original satire (due by the deadline of second blog post -- 3/2)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"No Way to Prevent This"

On Wednesday, there was a tragic attack in Parkland, FL due to senseless and horrifying gun violence. In response, The Onion posted this article: https://www.theonion.com/no-way-to-prevent-this-says-only-nation-where-this-r-1823016659. In wake of Wednesday’s events, The Onion, in this article, ironically expresses the idea that gun violence, and more specifically mass shootings, are something Americans must learn to live with, because nothing can be done to prevent them.

“‘This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,’ said Indiana resident Harold Turner, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. ‘It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.’”
The article continued to lament the point that Americans citizens have concluded that there is no foreseeable way to stop these mass shootings from occurring - the situation is completely “helpless,” to quote the article. Through obvious understatement and situational irony, The Onion is trying to alert people to the facts of how frankly absurd it is that so many mass shooting have occurred in the United States recently, and how, as a nation we need less talk and prayers, and more policy action and actual change to stop attacks like these from happening in the future. 

The articles capitalizes on the technique of situational irony, because they frame the problem of mass shootings in the light opposite of reality. By continually noting “there’s nothing anyone can do to stop [mass shootings]” they are really conveying the point that it is far beyond time that Americans wake up to the fact that we need new, tighter policies for gun control. For example, stronger background checks and less accessibility to firearms for those on mental health and criminal watch. Those are very real ways that other countries, such as Australia, have limited gun violence, and ways that the United States needs to as well. This article was a stark reminder that what happened in Parkland this week, and what has happened far too often around the country in the opening weeks of 2018, will not end because of talk and thoughts and prayers, but because of policy makers coming together to create better gun control legislation.

Satire

The Austin Powers trilogy is one of the most famous examples of modern satire. Mike Myers masterfully crafts his character, Austin Powers, a hilarious knock off of the sleek, professional, and highly skilled James Bond. Powers is Bonds complete opposite, with many obscenely obvious differences. Bonds pearly white teeth are a stark contrast to Powers crooked, green teeth, an obvious jab at the stereotypical British man. Bonds cleverly disguised gadgets, while impressive, are a great deal different than Power's clunky, humorous, and often ineffective gadgets. Perhaps the greatest and most humorous difference between the two is the car of choice. James Bond drives an Aston Martin, the symbol of gentlemanly elegance and superiority. Austin Powers on the other hand drives a 1970 Jaguar E-type convertible, with a British flag sprayed over the entirety of the car. Aptly called the "Shaguar" and boasting a "SWINGER" license plate. One similarity between the two that can not be denied, is that they are both ladies magnets. In both film series, it is a reoccuring theme that the super-spy is irresistible, and in both cases is always successful with the ladies. Bond uses clever talking, good looks, and subtly to woo over the ladies. Powers on the other hand uses his goofiness, and fully-fledged chest of hair to win over his desires. Austin Powers is clearly an entirely different spy movie than James Bond, and the comedic elements in Austin Powers are what make the movie so famous. One of the most famous scenes, Austin Powers encounters the fem bots. Female robots designed to attract any man, but Powers is not just any man. He is resistant to their advances, and soon turns the tide by using his own sexy British "movements" to cause the fem bots to short. These "movements" include undressing in a promiscuous way, dancing seductively, and even throwing cigarettes into each of the girls mouths. This movie series is a definite satire, and will long be remembered as a series that can entertain many different generations for years to come.

The Best Flipping Commercial

Dollar shave club is a multi-million dollar business that sells razor kits for $1 ( plus $2 for Shipping and handling). Their commercials are just as fantastic as the offer. The first commercial shows the owner of the company, Micheal Dubin, in the warehouse talking about how the razors aren't good, their flipping great (he obviously didn't use flipping, but this is school). Dubin talks about how they are coated with aloe vera to soothe the skin, all while walking calmly through an orange colored paper "door." He then goes to say, " It is so gentle a toddler can use it," walking past a toddler that is sitting on a box with a razor in hand wondering how she got here and why this is happening, seated above a semi-bald man with shaving creme on his head reading a book. Dubin then mocks Rodger Federer for being in expensive razor commercials. He caps off the joke by saying he's good at tennis while swinging and missing the ball. Now, razors, as we know, are very expensive. Dubin asks the question on why? Do you need, to use his words, " a vibrating handle, a flashlight, a backscratcher and ten blades ?". Now the audience, who is mainly middle-aged men, is looking towards their bathroom or thinking to themselves,"What have I done?".  Dubin continues walking and comes to a box filled with razors and a tape thing (I have noooo idea what it is so sorry) hanging off of the box with his assistant's hand holding onto the handle. He pulls the box toward him and out of nowhere pulls out a machete and tries to chop the tape but fails. He then whips the box behind him, with the tape still hanging off of the box, behind him to a man in a bear costume standing behind him, who fails to catch the box. The bear then gives the camera a thumbs up. Cut to Dubin sitting behind his assistant, in a kids wagon with a conductor hat on. He tells the audience how his assistant wasn't working before and how he gave her a job. Dubin ends by saying that the audience should stop paying for overpriced razors and saves some money. He then hops off a conveyor belt and right into a "party" with the bear and the assistant. This commercial is very over the top and very funny. It is also a play on the other razor companies. They are all about selling you the highest tech razor that you don't need. While this commercial plays with the guilt and pokes fin at the purchase, the audience made. It not only captivates them but it also entices them to buy a razor that works the same way as the $20-$35 razors they initially purchased. The razor may be good, but the commercial was flipping great.

Meet Your Second Wife!

By now, I’m sure that everyone has heard of and probably seen a Saturday Night Live clip. Saturday Night Live has become one of my weekend musts and it’s great to watch with my family. Saturday Night Live is probably my primary form of satire and they address and variety of issues that can be extremely serious and political or carefree and humorous. Often, SNL utilizes a combination of the two to send progressive messages to the public. I’m going to focus on a skit that is more socially political than political political and is a few years old.This skit, called “Meet Your Second Wife” is from 2015 and was a game show where three married men were able to meet their second wives.

In the video, the first man’s second wife is an eighth grade girl and the wives become progressively younger, the next one being five, and the last one being conceived three months ago. In this skit, SNL used a strong combination of parody, hyperbole, and irony to send a message about society and its views on marriage between people of very different ages. The skit is a parody of a common game show. There is an upbeat audience that contains each of the men’s three wives, two cheerful hosts with cue cards, and contestants that, in the beginning, are excited to be there. The use of parody is primarily for comedic effect, the use of hyperbole provides the bulk of the critiques of society. One of the uses of hyperbole was when the first contestant met his future wife, an eighth grader. At the end, he said “I guess I’ll see you again in twenty years” to which one of the hosts replies, “actually, it’s seven.” SNL uses hyperbole to exaggerate how young some women are getting married to much older men. The hyperbole continues as the future wives decrease exponentially in age. The use of hyperbole is even heightened further because despite the alarming age differences, it is not completely unrealistic in today’s society. I believe that it makes the hyperbole even more powerful in the context of the skit. Finally, the skit also uses some irony to increase the comedic effect and the message as a whole. One example is when the first man, Brian, is introduced, his wife is shown in the audience saying “yay Brian!” Now, we would not typically expect his wife to show any positive emotions as the show is essentially telling her that at some point, her husband will be leaving her for another, younger, woman. This section could also be seen as verbal irony or sarcasm, but based on the context, I believe that she is fairly genuine and it is part of the character.

Saturday Night Live is a very satirical show and with almost every skit, a message can be immediately drawn from it. “Meet Your Second Wife” is a bit more complex. It is fairly simple to deduct that the topic that they are discussing is marriage, specifically between an older man and a significantly younger woman. The skit criticizes those who might leave their wives in pursuit of younger and supposedly “more beautiful” women. Although we do not learn of the reason as to why the last couple ends up separating, the rest of the skit implies that it is something that the man, rather than the woman, does. I think that with this skit, SNL was attempting to enforce I guess what we would call "traditional" marriage views where the two people are faithful and supportive of each other and ultimately remain together. I don't think that SNL was saying that all marriages with significant age gaps were bound to have faults, but rather that they are risky and most people are not prepared for them. Each man is uncomfortable and surprised by the fact that they will have second wives until a reason is given as to why. This is one of my favorite SNL skits because it addresses a more serious topic, but has a lot of fun doing so.

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJEAGd1bQuc

Meet the Jefferson's

One of the best shows on television that constantly use satire to address very prominent issues in our society is South Park. South Park has evolved from a low budget cartoon with cringe humor to one of the premier satire televisions shows we have today. They continue to use the first amendment of free speech to go after celebrities, politicians, religions and companies. In particular, the episode that I think does a great job of using satirical humor along with literary devices to highlight a big issue around the world is the episode, "The Jeffersons". In this episode, Michael Jackson and his son move away from the spotlight and move to a town under aliases. The episode focuses on highlighting racial prejudices of the police along with his reckless parenting styles. While the episode makes fun of Michael Jackson's parenting styles, singing, and plastic surgery, there is a deeper meaning that the episode is trying to convey.

Throughout the show, Michael Jackson is portrayed as a kid in a man's body. Someone who never got a childhood so he is using his free time now to be a kid again. The episode also pokes fun at his plastic surgery and towards the end of the episode all of his new features start to fall off, making him look like a zombie. Obviously, the episode is a parody of Michael Jackson because this character is imitating him in a way that provides comedic relief for the audience. The episode also uses the literary device, hyperbole, to talk about the child molestation that is going on with Michael Jackson and his son. For example, Jackson has a sleepover with the boys where they all sleep in the same bed. He also is always asking the boys to play with him and come over to his house because he has a lot of toys and food. Here, the episode is exaggerating Michael Jackson's desire to play with kids to show that this is wrong. He should not be hanging out with 10 year olds all day, singing to them, and sleeping with them. They are trying to show that child molestation is a really issue and needs to be addressed. This is also an example of verbal irony because when he says come over and play that is not what he really means. While the episode uses satire to show the audience how big of an issue child molestation is, the episode also has a lot to do with racial prejudices.

The episode focuses on racial prejudices with the police and how they are unhappy with a rich black man moving into their town. Their goal is to frame him like they have done with other rich black men such as O.J. Simpson and Kobe Bryant. In the episode, the police department finds out that a new family has moved into town. When reading the file of the family, the sergeant says "Here's the problem, he is black and he payed in cash". There was then a uproar in the department where they were all thinking of ways to frame him and make him go to jail. A police officer later says when watching Jackson's house, "When I see a black man with more money than me, I want to vomit". This is also an example of a hyperbole because while people might think this way, they would never openly say something like that. Also, this is not how everybody in the police thinks, the creators are just doing this to highlight the real issue here, racial prejudice. Later on, the police find out that he is not black and everything seems to go back to normal. They felt stupid for trying to accuse a white man of murder until they later find out that he is in fact black. When they show up at his house, he says that he has decided to give all his money away to charity so that his son can live a normal life. The cops decide not to frame him and he starts singing, "Things can all work out if we know we have the power to change". Here, Jackson is not only talking about himself, he is talking about everybody in the world. Everybody has the power to stand up and protest something that is not right. If everybody keeps using their power and voice to address issues such as molestation and racial prejudice in society, things will change.

On the surface, South Park may seem like a stupid show filled with humor, but that characters and jokes in the show are used as fronts to get at specific issues that are going on in our society. While this particular episode is funny because of how they portray Michael Jackson, its underlying meaning has to do with something much bigger than the show. They are trying to show that audience that the power to change something such as racial prejudice or child molestation is in everybody and if we all stand up and fight these issues, we will be successful.

Reports of Hypocrisy

I was always a big fan of the The Colbert Report, and I thought it would be a great fit for the satire topic. To begin, Colbert presents himself as a conservative news anchor. However, he discusses content that brings attention to issues on both sides of the aisle. In the clip that I watched, he was defending himself from criticism about a racially insensitive line against Asian-Americans, that was taken out of context and put on twitter. He satirizes different subjects during his defense, all of which were quite humorous.
(Here is the clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBPgXjkfBXM)

I will focus on one part of his defense that talks about a conservative politician who called out Colbert with the trending hashtag #CancelColbert. He begins by explaining that he is thoroughly hurt by this as he sarcastically said that his conservative companions abandoned him during his time of need. Colbert showed the tweet where the politician, Michelle Malkin, calls Colbert a coward. In the following lines, Colbert uses irony, as he expresses his disappointment with the fact that he "learned" about racial sensitivity of Asian-Americans from Malkin's book called In Defense of Internment.

Although funny, Colbert points to a fact that is very relevant in today's political atmosphere. In my opinion, politicians today can be very hypocritical and follow trends that contradict their past views. In this case, Malkin is hypocritical because she calls Colbert for being racially insensitive even though she wrote a book defending the internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during WWII. Ultimately, the hypocrisy, especially in the government, hinders the credibility of people and it becomes difficult to take their arguments seriously. I agree with Colbert. I think that big change must come in the government, on both sides of the aisle, in order for this country to start moving towards cooperation.

Dramatic Draws Attention

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In Mindy Kaling's satirical TV show she uses dramatic irony to highlight universal issues. For instance some people argue that one can not be racist if they are a minority.... WHAT? HUH? No. So she uses satire to emphasize the ridiculous notion that minorities can never be racist because they are victims of racism.

Mindy also brings up the theme of societal's racist, narrow beauty standards. Her character is obsessed with wanting to be blue eyed, blonde, tall, skinny, big chested, and white. Her driver's license information says 5' 10", 120 lbs, and blue eyes. She also has an ad on a train which has her eyes being obviously blue and fake while she contests that those are her real eyes.

Her use of DRAMATIC satire aids the audience to understand the absurdity of such ideals. It heightens the issue because it gains more awareness. The more dramatic, the more attention it receives and causes indignation in the audience and a critical eye on the problem.

What it takes to be a True Lady

Jane Austen's famed satire Pride and Prejudice is known for being littered with humor and complex binaries which were common place in 18th and 19th century England, when the novel was written and takes place. One particularly fascinating dichotomy pointed out by the passage below is the binary between a true lady and an ordinary woman.
"A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved." 
"All this she must possess," added Darcy, "and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading." (39)

The first section of this passage describes the general definition of a true or accomplished woman during the time period. The description demonstrates how the quality of being a true lady has little to do with character and is instead dependent on one's upbringing and familial wealth. The distinction between a true lady and an ordinary woman is just a more specific version of the wealth dichotomy as only a wealthy family could afford the numerous tutor's required for a young girl to master the myriad of skills necessary to become "accomplished". Additionally this binary allows for a differentiation between old and new money, as even in the unlikely case that a woman's family were to get wealthy later in her life or if she were to marry a richer man and master these innumerable qualities, she would still seem like an outsider to a ground of true ladies as she would not possess the specific 'air and manner of walking' required by this elite class of women.

Mr. Darcy makes the classification of "accomplished" even more difficult to acquire by stating that on top of these skills, a true lady must also improve her mind through reading. This final requirement provides numerous challenges to any woman attempting to be a true lady, as reading is a time consuming activity that one must immerse themselves in to completely appreciate. Additionally, if one is trying to improve their mind through reading, the activity becomes even more time consuming and tiring. This penultimate requirement also implies that Victorian men, or at least Mr. Darcy, search for a wife with a captivating mind, an idea which seems to disregard the common notion that upper class men exclusively look for the qualities of beauty, wealth, and ability to look after an estate in a wife. The final layer of complexity in Mr. Darcy's comment is a jab towards Miss Bingley, who is obviously enamored by Mr. Darcy and demonstrates all the qualities of being a true lady, but who has previously demonstrated is incapable of submerging herself in reading. Mr. Darcy's final prerequisite allows Elizabeth to be put above Miss Bingley, where in conventional regards Miss Bingley seems to be a much more favorable wife.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Standardized Compassion

Suffering takes place everywhere, with everyone, but it’s hard to define. Like a lot of things in life, suffering is relative. Some whine over the tenderness of their steak, while others struggle to find their next meal. Obviously, the ethics and fairness behind that are questionable, but so is the solution. With so much disparity, how do you standardize suffering? And if you can’t standardize suffering, how do you standardize help or responsibility? In my opinion, the answer lies, at least partly, in the problem: relativity.

Surely the wealthy CEO should be giving a larger percent of their income, but that doesn’t mean that the average Joe shouldn’t also be giving. The reality is that there are maybe a couple thousand truly wealthy CEOs where as there are hundreds of millions Joes. For example, take a highly successful CEO’s salary, $11.5 million, and give it all to charity. Now take $50 from 230,000 average workers, and you get a similar $11.5 million. I like this scenario because it reminds me that you do not need an absurd amount of money or power to affect positive change. Obviously giving relative to your own scenario is key (the CEO can and should give a significant amount more than most), but I think just giving in general is even more important.

I think as humans, we have an innate responsibility to help other humans. Suffering is an integral part of us, but so is helping. Should people live their lives without helping anyone, then I think they’re missing a part of themselves (the punishment fits the crime in my opinion). In this way, I think giving involves more of embracing yourself and seeing what you can realistically donate than giving all that you can in the name of a clean conscience.

Note: I understand humans are not as altruistic as I described. I figured I would save everyone from more human-bashing. We get it, we suck.