Satire matters, and it’s here to stay

Eli Hebl Eli

In today’s media market, your worth as a human being is measured in how long the media can get you to pay attention to it. They will do anything to get it, cramming front pages and headlines with whatever makes you scared or angry enough to listen.

If you flip on any channel, you will see death upon death, with sprinkles of explosions and a cherry of terrorism on top. The North Wind will release stories for months and months about emails they aren’t getting about a university coffee shop because making you angry at the university administration is the only way they will listen to the demands. It’s how news media works.

Media needs your attention; it’s their lifeblood, whether they like it or not.

The problem is, of course, that you are tired of the endless pandering. It’s just another thing that doesn’t really affect you in any personal sense. Perhaps it has just as little significance to your life as the earthquakes in Japan and the epidemics in Africa. It can only make you so angry or so scared before you stop listening, and go back to cute cat pictures on the internet.

“You can’t even find just straightforward news anymore,” Avery Heinz, sophomore and secondary education major, said.  As newspaper slowly dies in favor of online alternatives, we’re only going to get more desperate.

Your Twitter and Facebook feeds can feed you all of the terrors of the day so much faster than conventional news media can.  Luckily, they’ve found other ways to get under your skin.

TV news will show you all the sex your libido can handle, and document the lives of the pathetic (Honey Boo-Boo, Jersey Shore, The Kardashians) so you can think to yourself, “Well, at least I’m doing better than they are.”  There are constantly new ways to push your buttons.

Fortunately, not all of the news media’s branching out has been completely bad. In all of the shenanigans that have been pulled over the years, there have been a few that have actually informed people above all else: Amber Child Alert, The Weather Channel and surprisingly, satire.

If media can make you laugh, or at least chuckle slightly to yourself, that’s just as good as your heart racing in fear. You’ll listen at least a couple more minutes. When they started mocking the headlines, however, they found they could put something in the news that it sometimes lacked: honesty.

Satire works a little differently. The humorous method of criticism has been around for centuries, ever since Voltaire started mocking the royalty in 1759.

However, it’s mostly recently that people have actually started getting their everyday news from satirical outlets. With programs like The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with John Stewart, the news doesn’t need a political slant.

The “Faux News” treatment (recent studies by Farleigh Dickinson University found that people who watched no news at all were better informed than people who only watched Fox News) is gone, with the only point being to make you laugh from the brutal honesty of what’s being said..

The funny thing is that satire is one of the few mediums that is taken seriously. A few months ago, French satirists working for Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by radical Islamists for their work. Charlie Hebdo had mocked the prophet Muhammad, and so they were killed. There was a public outcry at SNL for running a comedy skit that mocked the young British girls who ran away to join ISIS.

Satire can be offensive, raw and far from kid-friendly. But it has such a strong tendency to tell things how they are; that’s why it’s so needed.

Newspapers, with all of their claims of “journalistic integrity” are owned by massive corporations who can completely control what the public sees.

TV displays the Internet’s most viral hits, because if people will watch it online, they’ll watch it again, and the media companies get that delicious advertising money. Modern newsmen are shackled to their desks with pretty little handcuffs inscribed with profit margins and healthy corporate bottom lines.

The modern satirist will keep his middle finger unsheathed, and tell you the truth, whether you like it or not. It’s one of the few places that you can find any integrity. Satire doesn’t care if you’re offended.

Sometimes honesty can be outrageous or abrasive. But it’s what we need to hear the most.