Can humor and satire be used in political rhetorics?

Satire and humor can address political issues just as much as a typical political article. By adjusting the tone of an article, a journalist can make a normally monotone analysis into a humorous yet thoughtful read. Humor can illustrate ethos, pathos, and logos, all at once or separately, because it affects the reader’s emotions and logic. Of course, it has to be based on how the humorous or satirical content is portrayed.

On the other hand, satire can be used more for criticism. As pointed out by ciaobellalou on “Hillary’s First 100 Days,” political satire can reveal the ridiculous undertones behind rhetorics and then channel those assumptions into a clearer message. In other words, if the article can prove to be enlightening, then it should be considered successful journalism.

Objective vs. Subjective: Humor vs. Satire. When is it okay to humor/satire?

Objectivity is vital in both journalism and politics. But how does humor come into play? Humor can potentially add a finishing touch in a speech, an article, or an analysis, but overall does not overtake the writer’s work. Humor is a tone that can add new depth to politics, but it appears to only function as a fraction, not a whole. Despite being minimally used in an article, it must be executed in a tasteful manner.

Subjectivity seems to play alongside satire. Referring once again to ciaobellalou, satire is meant to criticize, or “call out.” It touches on any given political issue as a whole, and I see it as an invaluable introduction to those who are unfamiliar to politics. Of course, not unlike humor, satire relies on being tasteful. If a journalist’s satirical piece proves too distasteful, it can be deemed as inappropriate. Furthermore, the message may fail to deliver to those expecting information.

I want to learn more about the people who are utilizing humor versus the people who are utilizing satire. Which is used more? Which is executed more successfully? I refer back to jameswheat’s response to “Hillary’s First 100 Days,” discussing how humor is an easier method in drawing out emotional responses, particularly positive reactions.

So can satire elicit the same responses as humor does? Satire creates an alternative form of critique, but it appears if executed poorly, can draw negative responses. Not only do I want to learn more about the limits of political satire, but the drawbacks of utilizing satire as criticism as well.

Hilary’s Humor: Is it successful?

From Between Two Ferns:

  • Hillary performs with deadpan answers, but in turn she is doing it mockingly, ultimately parodying herself. I did not realize that while watching the video, only learning about this after reading petscortnyc’s analysis, as well as the New York Times article. I am wondering if this is because I am only accustomed to Hillary’s typical deadpan responses outside of interviews involving humor/satire.
  • Hillary’s humor is awkward. While Galifianakis is playing a clueless character, perhaps Hillary takes the improvisation too seriously. Despite the explanation that she is in fact parodying herself, the act falls flat because her performance sounded stiff and professional, the same way a politician sounds in my observations.

However, just because Hillary’s humor does not resonate with me does not mean it is not successful. The reviewers in both the New York Times and The Atlantic both enjoyed her performance. In The Atlantic, Clare Foran does criticize Hillary’s stiffness, but praises her for being a “good sport” while going along with Galifianakis’ persona. So it can be said that Hillary hardly changed her own personality but managed appealing to other viewers.

Humor/Satire towards Hillary’s Critics: Does it work?

This is a subjective question, and one I would like to investigate further. By looking at the article, “Hillary’s First 100 Days” and the video “Between Two Ferns,” I decided to look at each piece with different perspectives on how journalists and comedians approach political satire. Both pieces portray humor/satire differently, they also both share a common theme, and that is the caricature of Hillary’s critics.

“Hillary’s First 100 Days” presents a more direct approach. The day-by-day list illustrates a list of blatantly satirical accomplishments Hillary has made in her first 100 days in office. The article references back to other politicians who have criticized Hillary, and paint them to appear as even more radical. However, the approach is meant to criticize her opponents, such as Donald Trump, by portraying them in such an exaggerated manner, it is almost hard not to see it as satirical.

Each day represents a different issue or event Hillary has been criticized on. For example, day 23 talks about “emergency surgery for the President’s seizures.” This seems to be a jab at Hillary’s critics and they exaggerated her pneumonia. The tone is critical but remains playful because the intention is probably to simply shed light on just how ridiculous Hillary’s opponents are.

“Between Two Ferns” plays out with the same intentions, only in a subtler manner. Galifianakis poses seemingly offensive questions, but going over the interview a second time reveals that he sounds strikingly similar to Hillary’s opponents. The discussion on guns is a criticism of the Republican Party’s stance on control, revealing Galifianakis’ intentions as satirical.