Defining Satire

Defining Satire

What Is Satire?

Opening

What is satire?

  • Define the term in a single sentence.
  • Why is satire culturally relevant?

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Examples of Satire

Work Time

Brainstorm a list of modern television shows that you believe qualify as satire. Share your list with a partner or group and accept feedback on your choices. Offer your response to your classmates’ lists as well. Which examples are strong? Which are not?

Select a choice from your list and consider the following questions.

  • What makes it satire?
  • Did you know that it was criticizing society when you watched it?
  • What makes people like the show so much?

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Your Satirical Show

Work Time

Respond to the following questions about your satirical show.

  • What do you know about your show? If you watch it regularly, why? What do you like best? Have you considered it satirical in the past or are you looking at it in a whole new way now?
  • Find a specific example of satire in action from your show online. Note the details. What topic is being presented in a satirical way? Why? What do you believe is the intention of the show’s creators?

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Video Clips of Satire

Work Time

Be prepared to show your clip or to respond to selections from your classmates. If you are chosen to introduce your clip, explain the show’s premise and what the particular clip is about.

After viewing the clips, answer the following for each.

  • What is being satirized? Is this issue successfully rendered by the show? Explain your view and support with specific details.

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The Tools of Satire

Work Time

Now that you have seen several examples of satire at work, team up with a partner or small group to figure out the tools of satire.

  • What do you see consistently used, even in different shows about different topics?
  • Brainstorm a list titled “The Elements of Satire.”

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Be prepared to share your list with the class.

The Simpsons

Work Time

Read, with your class, the article on “The Simpsons” from the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Annotate and consider the following questions as you read. Then write your responses to the questions.

  • Why did one critic call it “the most radical show on primetime”? What’s an example of something in the article that you could use as evidence that “The Simpsons” is “radical”?
  • Why is it, nonetheless, incredibly popular? And what’s a statistic or detail from the article that you could use to prove its popularity?
  • What makes it satire?

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Talk about your responses with your classmates.

"About the lies a society tells itself"

Closing

One idea you’ll be thinking a lot about in this unit is, why satire? What makes this writing style so effective? “Boondocks” cartoonist Aaron McGruder said in an interview that satire is “about the lies a society tells itself.”

  • What do you think that means, and how does it connect with what you talked about today? Why might a society tell itself lies?

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Try Setting a Good Example

Homework

For the Gist, read and annotate a satire from an ancient Roman writer, Juvenal: Satire XIV, “Try Setting a Good Example,” lines 1–58.

Answer these questions about the text.

  • What exactly is Juvenal criticizing?
  • Are there any lines that summarize his point?
  • What specific examples does he give to prove his point?

Open Notebook