Friday, November 18, 2011

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggeringly Bad Satire

So as you've probably all heard if you follow politics in East Asia, Paul Kane has come out saying that his recent piece of stinky tripe was a "Swiftian satire", a piece meant not to be taken seriously but to provoke debate by playing a fierce devil's advocate.

Uh huh.

Thing is, I don't buy it.

We all know the tired cliche of someone who makes a big, stinking gaffe trying to cover his butt by saying "oh, it was just a joke! Can't you guys take a joke? I was MAKING FUN of it by pretending to support it, I didn't mean to be taken seriously!"

I mean, I can understand little comments here and there where one speaks hyperbolically (I've done that), but this was an entire op-ed piece, and if it was a satire, it wasn't a particularly funny one, nor was it particularly obvious. The secret of good satire is that it has to be clear to most people that it is, in fact, a satire, without having to tell them. Even if it sounds serious, even plausible. If this was a satire - and I don't believe it was, I'm in the "he's trying to cover his butt" contingent - it was remarkably ill-conceived and poorly executed.

As Jon Stewart said of an unrelated news item - I believe it was Herman Cain saying he'd build an electrified fence on the US-Mexican border, then saying it was a "joke", that he wasn't serious, and then saying that he wouldn't rule out the idea of a fence: "it's like a teenager hitting on a girl. 'You wanna make out? Hahaha, I was just kidding...unless you wanna make out.'"

I don't think Paul Kane's belated "oops" is really all that much different.

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