Photo courtesy of Snopes
In a world inundated by fake news, it feels empowering to reclaim that by intentionally producing satire. Mimicking the real world allows for truth to, oddly enough, shine through. Sometimes raw truth is too harsh, controversial or “close to home.” It is often easier to discuss complex and sticky situations by padding it with humor. Satire, like all art forms, imitates life. It acts as a mode of conveying an idea. Humor can be utilized in the office to soften the blow of bad news and it can be used in the Newswire to talk about privilege.
Privilege, a word which has been used both in helpful and unhelpful conversations, is my favorite topic. Divisions of race, gender, sexuality, class and ability leave our nation disconnected. Comedy is one way of gluing that bond back together. Everyone has heard their mother say, “it isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it,” at least once in their lifetime. Saying to someone, “you are so racist,” isn’t always the best way to get your message across. I’m not asking you to sugarcoat it, but sometimes saying to someone, “you may not have realized the impact of your comment, but statements like that have a history of promoting and continuing oppression” is more effective. As a person of privilege, I’ve found humor to be one of the best ways to help an audience entirely unaware of privilege start an engaging and meaningful conversation.
Meme sub-cultures contain idiosyncrasies of our nation’s belief system. Funny accounts on websites like Reddit, Instagram and Twitter are some of the most frequented sources of entertainment, but they also often contain liberal or conservative agendas. As far back as jokes have been made, they’ve been used to talk about politics, and today is no different.
Using humor elevates an issue’s audience. If your goal is to alienate readership from a topic, try writing about difficult topics with academic language. If your goal is to connect in a human way, use narratives and humor. It is this realization which my series, “A White girl’s guide to privilege,” was founded upon.
The Newswire published our annual April Fools’ issue last week. This tradition has existed in newspapers for decades, and its precedent on our campus is not a new one. Every year, students pick up a newspaper and become enraged by the wild stories they read. Last year our ‘‘Barney’ scores R-rated reboot” article received the comment “This is fake news! Barney is not going to be R-Rated. What’s the matter with you people? Barney is being produced by Mattel and Hit Entertainment. STOP!!!!! TAKE THIS DOWN RIGHT THIS INSTANT!!!!!!!! 😡😡😡😡😡😡,” to which our online editor had to respond, “Hi Mike! This is satire article that the Newswire runs every year around April Fools. Barney isn’t getting an R-rated reboot.”
The articles are tagged at the bottom of the page as “April Fools” and are slightly more obviously satire in the physical copy, but either way, “tricking the audience” is the fun of it! The Newswire works hard all year long to bring factual reporting to our campus, but once a year we get paid $10 to let our cats sit on our keyboards, and that’s a beautiful thing that’s not going anywhere anytime soon
Brittany Wells is a first-year Montessori education major and staff writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.