Is Satire the Hope of Mankind?

Stanley Kubrick, commenting on Dr Strangelove: “A satirist is someone who has a very skeptical view of human nature, but who still has the optimism to make some sort of a joke out of it. However brutal that joke might be.”

— Somehow, it never occurred to me, before coming across that remark, that satire is implicitly optimistic. But it is. It includes, inherently, the suggestion that we can see ourselves through the lens of satire, we can recognize our foibles and absurdities, and, perhaps, thanks to this insightful mirroring, we might have some hope of liberation from them.

Another obvious example is the heavy-handed scene in The Magic Christian when a group of upscale people are swimming through sewage to get at money tossed in with floating feces…money they don’t need. The satire is grotesquely unsubtle but we recognize truth in it. There’s hope in the most brutal satire.

We don’t see ourselves as we are. That blind spot is paralyzing. Satire optimistically offers the mirror, the insight, of mockery…

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