Thursday, June 26, 2008

Satire, sarcasm, and evolutionary advantage.

I got around to self-googling again in the office today, because I'm vain and generally bored at work. This time, one of the top hits was my attempt to pull off a bit of Colbert-style satire at the FSView & Florida Flambeau, where I used to work.

Somehow people got the wrong interpretation of my satire. I was just trying to rib a bit (ribbit) on an editorial I had seen published a few days prior, which was certainly not satirical. Nor was it even from our school -- which means our doofus of an editor-in-chief had picked it out himself.

Then, I decided to search for the name of the article itself: "Deport All Current Illegal Immigrants." This is what showed up -- a livejournal post from an FSU student. My favorite comment on the post is "Th... that's so outlandish it reads like satire." But, as I've said before, I wasn't able to make everyone understand my intent, which means my attempt at satire failed (for the majority of readers). Though, in fact, I tried to make it sound a lot like the "real" argument against immigrants, partially to show how ridiculous it is. But it still didn't work.

Then, I happened to read somewhere else where the author of the livejournal posted that she was excited that "science has deemed sarcasm an important survival skill," which I thought was funny and a little ironic, since she didn't understand my satire. But I hadn't heard of any recent news stories about this, so after yet another search, I found this gem: Sarcasm Seen as Evolutionary Survival Skill (via this blog post about it).

This article is great, because it has a person who doesn't understand sarcasm getting eaten by a lion. Gold.

But it is interesting that Ms. Small is defending sarcasm as a sign of evolutionary development. Humor, I can see, but sarcasm? Sure, why not. Sounds like a great theory. But, no, seriously...

It reminded me of this exchange:

Calvin: Isn't it strange that evolution would give us a sense of humor? It's weird that we have a physiological response to absurdity. We laugh at nonsense.

Hobbes, walking away: I suppose if we couldn't laugh at things that don't make sense, we couldn't react to a lot of life.

Calvin, now alone: I can't tell if that's funny or really scary.


So go ahead and try to not take everything so seriously today. Especially if it's satire.

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