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Tony Grist

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Satire [Oct. 11th, 2005|09:50 am]
Tony Grist
The new Channel More4 (or Mofo as I think they'd like us to call it) kicked off last night with a brilliant comedy drama about the Blair government. It was lotsa fun and Bernard Hill (Theoden in LOTR) was amazingly good as former Home Secretary David Blunkett.

But does satire change anything? Has a government ever been brought down by it?
Britain has a robust tradition of political satire going back to the 18th century and in all that time we haven't had a single revolution. Instead of hanging politicians from lamp posts we point the finger at them and snigger.

So satire acts as a safety valve, protecting those in power.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: sorenr
2005-10-11 02:16 am (UTC)
So satire acts as a safety valve, protecting those in power.

Does it really? Can something not be subversive without inducing a revolution? Satire on its own will, of course, not bring down a government, but if one sees the satire as merely one element in a greater public discourse, then surely it does have some merit and one might even say that this humorous element to politics is one of the defining characteristics of the modern, Western democracy. I'm sure this could be more eloquently put, but not by me right now... :-(
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:16 am (UTC)
I don't deny that satire has merit. I luuurve satire. but I do wonder whether it actually ever changes anything.

I mean Tony Blair is still there in spite of everything....
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2005-10-11 03:18 am (UTC)
Blunkett did by all accounts try to stop it going out... he has always had a humour bypass as well as being a pompus git!

love

shullie - a Sheffielder born and bred!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:20 am (UTC)
I thought Bernard Hill did a wonderful job. His Blunkett was thoroughly obnoxious, but also, at times, quite touching.

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[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-10-11 04:34 am (UTC)
I think of British political satire going back a lot further than the 18th century. In fact, I can't think of British politics without thinking that there must have satire to go along with it!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:32 am (UTC)
I reckon that open political satire (the sort that names names) only became safe (or relatively safe) in the 18th century.

I'd say (but not with any great confidence) that the first great satirists were Pope and Swift.
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From: minnesattva
2005-10-11 07:07 am (UTC)
You're probably right about satire as safety valve; I certainly won't argue. But, I dunno, in my remarkably-humorless country, we're a bit short on the revolutions too. And it's not for lack of instigating forces.

I guess satire is better than nothing. :-) At least then everyone doesn't take the politicians so seriously and persist in thinking that they really will do what is good and they are worthy of our faith and optimism. My mom still thinks that way, and it's almost heartbreaking to watch. But then maybe I'm just a jaded bleeding-heart who hangs out with too many wannabe-hippies.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:39 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, it's better than nothing.

A lot better.

And, hey, don't forget Mark Twain was one of your fellow countrymen!
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From: minnesattva
2005-10-11 11:45 am (UTC)
Oh yes, the US has had a few irreverents, but not so much recently. I can't think of anybody very impressive in that regard since Bill Hicks.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 12:15 pm (UTC)
How about Jon Stewart? My mate Judy thinks he's wonderful.
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From: minnesattva
2005-10-11 12:25 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's true. The Daily Show is the closest thing to TV news I'll watch these days; it's really great. Besides being amusing, it also reassures me that I'm not quite the only person who thinks my country has gone crazy.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 12:33 pm (UTC)
And it's showing now on More4

In fact I could be watching it... this very instant......
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[User Picture]From: zoe_1418
2005-10-11 09:05 am (UTC)
No, I think satire helps to connect those in the opposition, letting each of us know we are not alone, and thus helping us to have some hope through it all.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:43 am (UTC)
A good point.

I was playing devil's advocate. Or perhaps, more accurately, expressing my distress about Bush and Blair still being there in spite of all our mockery.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-10-11 11:31 am (UTC)
Satire can serve as an indicator, too, of how brave the monkeys are around the Alphas.

Also, in a police state, satire isn't allowed, so it's nice to remind ourselves that we can stick out our tongues and throw bananas at the Monkey Men we elected.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-10-11 11:45 am (UTC)
Yes.

The fact that this play was broadcast, in spite of David Blunkett threatening a libel action, indicates that our liberties are still in place.
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