Satire as an Instrument for Community Correction
Beyond its usual amusement, it is clear that satire is designed to make vices repulsive so that they can easily be expunged from individuals as well as the society that is being criticized, regardless of the object of attack. Its criticism is conveyed through wit and laughter, which is, paradoxically, constructive. On many occasions, satirists have affirmed that they aim at correcting the world as much as they can, and they are not driven by malice. Satirists do not hope for society perfection; rather, they wish for a behavioral improvement whenever they feel that morality has been abandoned by the society (Colletta, 2009). In this case, they help contain dilapidation in a civilization, as individuals reverse the course of decay. Nevertheless, most satirists insist that they can only deter and not reform. This is because, even though satire is intended to be corrective, it only guarantee to expose hypocrisy and vice, and the consequences of such vices. The satirist goal is only achievable if his work inspires response from the audience.
Certain literary constructions and techniques come out as satire due to their humor, wit, and irony. Among these constructions include exaggerations, understatements, distortions, paronomasia, innuendo, allegory, metaphor, simile, and parable. They broaden the means by which a satirist can deliver his criticism, and this reduces weariness among the audience. Among these techniques, irony stands out as the best art form that can be used to attack hypocrisy. On its part, exaggeration depicts extremes or vicious cases, and it is most beneficial in pointing out vices in a way that precedes correction (Colletta, 2009). Exaggeration overemphasizes so that unobservant audience can notice the faults. With the contemporary perversity, mere statements like ‘there are evil in the society’ would be ineffective. Hence, satirists turn up the magnitude of their criticism noticeable. Such an overstatement would be meant to make the reader recognize his multiple faults, and thereby adjure himself to abandon wickedness.
Distortion is akin to overstatement as it alters the perspective of a scenario through isolation and by deemphasizing certain aspects while stressing others. On the other hand, understatement is considered useful in cases where faults are already great; and further exaggeration is impossible. Understating evil in such instances makes its true degree apparent. For example, in My Satirical Self, the writer talks of himself as a ‘veteran of nothing’. Innuendo helps in implicating a target through an indirect attack. This is particularly useful in instances where targets are dangerous, so that the artist can easily deny his subject in case of unprecedented outcomes (Jones & Baym, 2010). Likewise, ambiguity is applied where denial of intention may be required at a later stage. Moreover, it helps to refining satirical comparison such that it becomes hard to distinguish between the object and the target. In essence, the form and construction of satire used is determined by the situation since not single form is applicable in every scenario.
Satire is not always corrective. At times, artists compose works with the intention of attacking foibles which are easily changeable. For example, if a satirist realizes that he cannot inspire men to get rid of egotism and jealously, he may choose to endeavor in making them despise their undesirable attitudes and eventually resist them. In regard to this objective, a satirist may opt to ridicule man’s necessity for food as well as other needs that are basic in life so as to help him correct the view about himself, appreciate his limitations, and in effect reduce his pride. Based on this argument, satire can be seen as an instrument for maintaining standards, reaffirming values, and necessitating reform (Jones & Baym, 2010). Satire is exhaustively concerned with virtue, morality, and justice in a manner that compares to several universal ethical viewpoints.
Hindrance to Effectiveness of Satire
One of the principal drawbacks facing satire is that it is an art form that is widely misunderstood, and this reduces its effectiveness. Many individuals consider it as absurd and vulgar. For example, despite being among the most brilliant satirical productions, South Park is widely criticized for its content. Most critics do not understand its subject matter, and considers it to be a morally reprehensible program, which is at times lacking in illustration. Although satire is a well grounded logic, the manner in which it points out to errors in cultural norms is ineffective. In essence, the reason behind this is that it is highly topical, a context which makes it applicable to a place and time, thereby reducing the size of its potential audience (Mason, 2006).
Lastly, despite the fact that satire is widely misunderstood for it to become an inspiration to change in the society, this will not hinder its perseverance. Indeed, it has never been the satirists’ goal to win the attention of societies en masse; they have merely desired to air their concern regardless of the size of audience believing that suppressing criticism would contribute to the detriment in the society (Mason, 2006).