Satire

In class, we’ve just read a classical satire, Jonathan’s Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” We’ve also viewed a contemporary satire, Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. Now it’s time to compose your own original satire. Although centuries apart, both Swift and Judge created a satirical version of the current reality they were experiencing, and they did this to draw attention to the vice or folly of their society. Both of them develop startling images and unacceptable warrants in order to accomplish this. Most importantly, each of them embeds the “kernel of truth” in his argument; this kernel shows the careful reader the author’s true motivation and purpose—his real message to his audience. Your satire will mimic these strategies. First choose a contemporary problem in our society that you would like to view satirically. It can be anything from Isis to climate change to voter registration corruption. It could involve GMOs, big pharma or agriculture, the organic food industry, professional sports, social media—there are so many choices. Once you’ve found your topic, think about how treat it satirically. You may choose to create your own proposal, as Swift did, or to create an alternate reality, as Judge did. Then use powerful details to bring the problem to light in that satirical context. Swift does this by going into disturbing detail about how to transform children into a commodity; Judge does this by distorting contemporary images and trends in an exaggerated and sometimes shocking manner. Whichever you choose, make sure embed your “kernel of truth”. Somewhere in your satire, you must mention the solution you feel is most real, most honest, has the most integrity. This is the solution humankind’s highest selves would take and make work. As with “A Modest Proposal” and Idiocracy, your kernel should be subtle and brief and in no way dominate your satire. You have some leeway with the length; it should be between 3 and 5 pages. You may use references but they are not required. You may also invent references as part of the satire; you may invent statistics and anecdotes as long as they are believable. If you invent, no need to reference. Your paper should be in MLA format. Major errors in MLA format will result in a 10% penalty.