Understanding satire: Examples of satire

Satire is everywhere. Many contemporary television shows and movies use some degree of satire. More well known examples would be The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, The Colbert Report, This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Saturday Night Live and many others.

Online, however, there has been an explosion in the last few years of news style satire.

News Style Satire

There are many other news style satire sites from all over the world, some of them with very niche subject matter. A lengthy list can be found on Wikipedia.

Jonathan Swift

In my opinion, Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal is the most brilliant piece of satire ever written. Swift, the Dean at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, wrote this biting Juvenalian satire that tore apart the assumptions and attitudes of the Irish upper class of his day. I highly recommended it, though high school students would likely need guidance to understand the language and meaning of the text.

Most Daily Bonnet posts are in the style of a news article, but in this case I was trying to emulate the style and structure of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. A Modest Proposal for the Elimination of Faspa.

Video examples. (Please preview to determine the appropriateness of these films for your particular class).

    • The Yes Men

Heavily influenced by Jonathan Swift, the Yes Men are an anti-globalization activist group who use satire as a form of protest. In this example, they present a “food recycling” program to a group of unsuspecting college students. This clip is interesting, because you can discuss why it’s obvious to us that it’s satire even though the students in the audience did not immediately catch on.

    • Help Child Soldiers

The charity Help Child Soldiers created an interesting ad that parodied child sponsorship commercials, while critiquing Western indifference towards the problem of child soldiers.

    • Babakiueria

It may be a little dated, but this brilliant short film from Australia is still relevant today. The film reverses the roles between Aboriginal Australians and settler Australians. This satire makes a powerful point. Highly recommended.

This is That

This is That was an excellent satirical radio program on CBC that, on occasion, people took at face value. One of my favourites was this bit they did about a woman trying to get paid maternity leave to take care of her puppy. Very funny!

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