Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Satire will save the world – or at least politics

Dannagal G. Young, assistant professor of communications and professional comedian, has an inspiring cover story in the Columbia Journalism Review. The title says it all: “Lighten Up: How Satire Will Make American Politics Relevant Again.” The rather long piece carries no date, but was apparently typed before Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert decided they needed to break out of their beloved satirical moulds. Young dismisses the usual hand-wringing that their shows have become the central news source for most younger Americans. She concludes: “Increasingly, scholars of political entertainment are challenging the notion that this process is worth protecting from the bastardizing influences of emotion, humor, and fun; especially if rationalizing politics means leaving normal people alienated from the language and rituals of politics. The key is in finding ways to show citizens that politics is not separate from their lives. Politics is people. People are social, emotional, and playful. We want to connect with our world and with each other, and enjoy doing it.” And when that fails, we may want to engage in wishful thinking  all the better if slightly self-serving.