“Satire is a technique that uses humor, irony, sarcasm, exaggeration, and mockery to expose human vices and follies” Ultimately, satire serves to make the serious and awkward topics in the news, easier to understand whilst bringing humour into them. Satire breaks down the complicated and forces you to laugh. Whilst “Satirical literature and artwork date as far back as the second millennium B.C.E” it is a major trend at the moment due to the massive increase in social media use and outbreak of ‘meme culture’. It often works best in the context of contemporary political issues and hot topics of the moment. Climate change falls into both these categories. Many journalists have jumped on board with this trend in order to present something as sinister as climate change in a more humorous light. A notable example is that of John Oliver on ‘Last Week Tonight’.
John Oliver exemplifies very well done satirical journalism in the above piece. The video which featured as a segment on his show delivers a lot of relevant, scientific research in a funny and amusing way. It is successful in the way viewers are learning about climate change by being delivered simple facts like “97% [of the scientific community] endorsed the position that humans are causing global warming”. These facts are easily understood by the general population. The humour in the piece is clever and targets the audience, picking at the shared flaw in their unwillingness to accept scientific fact and act against climate change now.
A less successful example would be ‘Planet Earth Presents Bin Chicken’ published by the Beetoota Advocate in March of this year. The video can be seen below.
Beetoota Advocate’s video clearly raises environmental concerns in a humorous way however it differs from the segment on ‘Last Week Tonight’ as lacks substantial scientific fact when raising such concerns. The video was widely appreciated within the Facebook community where it was published by the Beetroota Advocate; it has currently been shared over 20,000 times and has reached 2.4 million viewers. The Advocate has such a wide reach which could be used to spread awareness of the state environment within our cities and how it is affecting and mutating Australian wildlife however they have chosen to simply focus on the making people laugh, unlike John Oliver. Whilst still a satirical piece of journalism, it is less successful in educating viewers.
Satirical journalism relies on making people laugh whilst delivering them useful information. It is done well when these parts intertwine and are presented equally as in the example from ‘Last Week Tonight’. Satire is purposefully constructed to fill peoples need to be aware of political issues around them but put a humorous spin on this. It is because of this that it remains an engaging and popular trend in the Journalism industry.