Monday, February 19, 2007

Why conservatives can't do satire

There have been a number of negative reviews of the new FOX show “The ½ Hour News Hour.” An attempt by Conservatives to copy the success of The Daily Show, the HHNH tries political satire from a far right perspective, and, as one might guess, fails miserably. I forced myself to watch segments of the show on uTube, and it was as painful as I had imagined it would be.

For all the panning of the show in the media, I have failed to read one critique that accurately explains what the problem is, so I will. Conservatives do not understand irony. Irony is the foundation of satire. If you don’t understand irony, you can never do satire.

The University of Victoria Department of English Writer’s Guide explains it this way: The term irony is derived from the Greek eiron (dissembler), and denotes that the appearance of things differs from their reality, whether in terms of meaning, situation, or action. That is, it is ironical when there is a difference between what is spoken and what is meant, what is thought about a situation and what is actually the case; or what is intended by actions and what is their actual outcome.

Conservatives are not wired to appreciate subtle humor. Conservative comedy is when people slip on banana peels or get hit in the face with a pie. Drawing subtle inferences is simply beyond their abilities.

There are no jabs or barbs directed at Bush or Cheney or anyone in the administration in the first installment of HHNH. All the venom is directed at liberals and liberal ideas. Because they don’t understand irony, they don’t see (or refuse to see) the irony in any of Bush’s actions in office. No surge jokes. No one-liners about the inability of the President of the United States to utter a coherent sentence. It’s all about dissing Dems.

What’s clear to all is that the object of HHNH is not humor but revenge. What lies beneath the Obama hits and Hillary swipes is anger, not irony. Irony is part of the human experience. It is not divided down political lines and it is not intended to be used as a bludgeon to smite one’s enemies. If FOX wants to go funny, it should really consider shows more in tune with it’s audience, like remakes of The Beverly Hillbillies or Gilligan’s Island. Big guffaws. Light on irony.

15 comments:

Jonathan Moore said...

I watched the show last night and thought it was funny. It is much like ourcountry.com.

caromero1965 said...

Nice bit of reasoning/observation. Thinking back on it, I've known a few conservatives who did actually have a suitably ironic sense of humor, but over the years most of them have morphed into something-other-than-conservatives... the right-wing has moved so far right that the College Republicans and republican political campaign workers of my 20s now call themselves Democrats as we hit our 40s.

I actually took a look at Olbermann, Colbert and Stewart a while ago, with the same sort of thought in the back of my mind. Colbert is perfect, because he baked the irony right into his character. He'll be funny forever, just as Bill O'Reilly and no one on Fox will never, ever be funny, even if they have a laugh-track telling people when to get a joke.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, irony is SO hard to understand. Only sophisticated dildos like us understand such a "subtle" form of humor. Colbert, for example, is really subtle.

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