OPINION: Satire is necessary

Devon Martinez

     Satire is not only entertaining, but necessary. It is necessary nationally, locally and at the university. At the Scribe, we produce satire from our satirical subsection, the Scribble.  

     Our April Fool’s Day issue of the Scribe features only Scribble articles, published with our pseudonyms. It helps us to blow off steam and take on the university in a fun way, instead of through more serious formats, like an editorial or opinion piece. 

     Let’s define satire. The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of satire says the essential meaning is, “A way of using humor to show that someone or something is foolish, bad, etc.: humor that shows the weaknesses or bad qualities of a person, government, society, etc.”  

     But the question remains: Why is it necessary? 

     Satire is necessary because it goes beneath the surface. The usual critiques made in an academic format or an opinion article often don’t do justice on taking the powerful straight on.  

     Which is ironic since this is an opinion piece.  

     Why does the opinion format sometimes lack the ability to get to people? It’s because this format is not funny, but satire is. If you can make someone laugh, you can make them think. And if you get them to think, they can open up to you and trust you more. If you just go straight for the jugular and take them on up front, chances are the person is going to fight back.  

     Jonathan Haidt, an author and psychology professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, wrote about this in his book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics And Religion.”  

     “You can’t make a dog happy by forcibly wagging its tail. And you can’t change people’s minds by utterly refuting their arguments,” he writes.  

     Psychologists have found out that challenging a person’s opinion in an upfront way can even trigger a fight or flight response in them.  

     You can also tell that satire works by how much authoritarians enjoy trying to censor it. It works because the powerful can’t argue with humor; the only solution they have is to stop it.  

     You can look up the many attempts by governments around the world to censor it.  

     “South Park” is one of the best satirical shows ever created. There have been essays upon essays that delve deep into why it works so well. And in 2022, a time when everyone is fighting tooth and nail, opening the dialogue and understanding different perspectives is what this show is doing.  

     The show went after Donald Trump during his presidency just like every other satirical show, but they also went after the “woke left” in the past couple years, even creating a character named “PC Principal.”  

    If you look at the comment section and fan pages of “South Park,” the show has fans across the political spectrum. The fans are not attacking the show for going after their beliefs, they are accepting it and asking for more.  

     I think it comes from the show’s willingness not to be lazy in its attacks. It takes people’s opinions and stretches them to the absurd and sometimes surreal, forcing people to find ways to laugh at themselves. There is not one left leaning person that places PC at the start of their name — it’s absurd, and that’s why it works. The show forces us to face our humanity and the idea that our ideas are not perfect. That’s what great satire does.  

     We need “The Onion,” “Saturday Night Live” and “South Park” because our national leaders need to be laughed at just like UCCS needs the Scribble. Life is absurd, people are absurd and if you give them power, they will take the absurdity to higher levels no matter what their ideas are.