Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Why Political Satire Doesn't Work Anymore

Satire as a literary device depends on a comprehending and homogeneous audience with commonly understood standards of rightness and reasonableness. Since the satirist can expose to instantaneous contempt only what is readily condemned by the opinion of his readers, he must necessarily be on intimate terms with them and count on their sharing his tastes and viewpoint. If this intimacy should break down, if the satirist's audiences should become heterogeneous and the once-shared values become confused and doubtful, if the satirist has to explain what his ridicule means, then the satire is rendered ineffectual.

-- Gordon Wood, Revolutionary Characters (2006), p. 251

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