First make them laugh and then make them think.
Sarcasm, they say is the lowest form of wit. But satire, an indirect form of critique makes the point without offending, um, err...almost. A friend of mine masters the art of writing satire. Distinct from sarcasm, he is able to draw attention to the ridiculousness of the situation with his wit. Given our politicians, there is no dearth of ridiculous situations, is there? Also, given the thin skin of our politicians, satire works for writers like me who itch to direct their outrage towards more enjoyable form of critique. While most readers get the point, there are those who get offended. They are either too self-righteous, or too pompous, or too self-obsessed, or too angry, or too prissy. Or plain ignorant. There is little point in writing satire if you have to offer explanations to those who have Ms M Bannerjee's sense of humor. Or Ms R Sawant's taste in literature.
Regardless, I am learning the nuances by writing more such wonderful articles, because I am a modest person with much to be modest about.
The problem of self-righteousness, among other things, is not exclusive to India. Despite mastering the art of mocking without ridiculing (Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show), not everyone in the west is able to grab this genre. This reminds me of a recent example when internet humorist Jay Branscomb posted the following picture on Facebook with the caption: “Disgraceful photo of recreational hunter happily posing next to a triceratops he just slaughtered. Please share so the world can name and shame this despicable man.”
These reactions will give you a glimpse of what I am saying.
“Steven Spielberg, I’m disappointed in you. I’m not watching any of your movies again ANIMAL KILLER.”
“Disgraceful. No wonder dinosaurs became extinct…He should be in prison.”
“I don’t care who he is, he should not have shot that animal.”
Back home, when Alia Bhatt featured in a spoof called Genius of The Year, reactions to her spoof proved that appreciating comedy is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Going by the comments, the video was "all scripted...so she knew the answers. Alia is otherwise still dumb.”
One brainy soul said that the video "takes her stupidity to a whole new level”.
It is obvious that there is a huge demand for Brain Enlargement Therapy institutes in our country for those who are better never than late when it comes to spoofs or satire.
On a personal note, writing satire has its own drawbacks. The other day my mother called me for the nth time to know about what she wanted to cook or wear (I don’t remember). And I don’t remember what I said in a bout of irritation, but what I do remember is that she said: Writing satire is making you sarcastic. Her words stayed with me.
So I asked my son. “Granny thinks lampooning politicians has made me acerbic. Is it true?”
He shrugged. “Why don’t you ask dad?”
This boy should have joined politics, I tell you.
“Is writing satire reflecting in my communication?” I asked my husband. "Please be honest. Dinner shall be served regardless."
“Not always," he said. "Sometimes.”
Either these people don’t appreciate humor or this blog has made me a cynical person. I was not sure. Because I caught the father-son exchange smiles.
Today, on a Sunday morning, I presented myself with clinching evidence. When asked how I was feeling after an uneasy night, I said, " I would say that I am feeling fine. But that would be a lie. "
Mocking a situation, it seems, works beyond the confines of the family. Within the family, lampooning will NOT make anyone laugh. Or think.