See this? This is a gif taken from Rick Perry’s homophobic political ad. The ad was groudbreaking in that it has become the most disliked video ever to appear on YouTube. Like all gifs, it is robotic and annoying, the visual version of a skipping record. You kids and your gifs. Generally, I’m a big supporter of the younger generation, but on the whole obsession with gifs thing I am forced to remain silent.
You people are on your own on that one.
The reason I bring this up is the quote there. See it? It has quotation marks and everything, and is clearly attributed to Rick Perry. That’s what we in the trade call satire. Also parody. It is legal. It is free speech. And it is a lie. Rick Perry never said that.
We all know that it’s a lie, however. Why? Well, this is also what we in the trade call clunky, obvious satire. It’s amusing but not challenging or dark.
In June, I wrote an article called “Our Abortion Was Different: When the Anti-Choice Choose,” about how several years ago the Santorum family induced labor before the fetus was viable in order to save Mrs. Santorum’s life. Labor was induced before the fetus was viable and the Santorums knew this and did it anyway to save the life of the mother. Fine—also tragic—but Mr. Santorum to this day fights tooth and nail to get ALL abortions banned. ALL of them for WHATEVER reason. He’s a ginormous hypocrite.
So, pissed off, I wrote my article, and at the end attributed a dark, ridiculous comment to Mr. Santorum. Actions speak louder than words, they say, but sometimes it is the satirist’s role to give those actions words equally loud. That’s what I attempted to do. Whether it was successful or not is not for me to determine.
I got a lot of hate for that quote, which essentially boiled down to me being TOO subtle. There were arguments about free speech. There was some pretty serious analysis of it on Religion Dispatches magazine. A very liberal blogger associated with Dan Savage (so she said) even yelled at me about going too far (this from the frothy mixture people. Please).
My response to all of them, essentially, was “Blow me.”
Look, sometimes satire is clunky and obvious, but sometimes it comes like a ninja in the night. A writer should not be forced to write to the lowest common denominator for the benefit of a handful of dumbass readers.
Free speech is in real danger and the fact that things like satire and parody are points of debate at all is very unsettling. Also, blow me.