Authors are of course free to pick the topics and the approaches of their UnNews. But, on politics, religion, and the races, if you don't keep it light and play it down the middle, it will be indistinguishable from real-world advocacy.
GlobalTourniquet above deflects Hypster's criticism by noting that he was not lampooning Obama but lampooning the Obama detractors Mr. and Mrs. Chuck Norris. Same problem, though.
This morning, a local radio talk host set out to play audio of last night at the Democratic Nominating Convention, honoring Bill Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, etc. But that darned producer instead ran file tape of the Lewinsky denial, post-Chappaquiddick press conference, etc. Amusing (if you agree with the host) and clever--but I wanted news, so I switched channels. Another station had audio of the actual convention: the notorious Boston mayor eulogizing Martha Luther King. (These shows are biased against Democrats, and I reveal my bias by my choice of shows. But my point is that none of them were practicing humor but advocacy with a thin humor coating. They are doing what we ought not to be doing, or seem to be doing.)
The essence of all of this is to define a celebrity by his weakest moments. Include Rep. Akin on "legitimate rape" and Dan Quayle on "potatoe." The problem is that the celebrity created the humor with his gaffe and the UnNews author is mainly reporting the gaffe to us, perhaps adding some cleverness. The reason it is a problem is not that I admire the celebrity and don't like what you did to him, but that real advocates are doing the same thing as real advocacy. A more minor problem is that the treatment is funny mainly to people who agree with you that a person is inherently ridiculous--that his missteps are more notable than his accomplishments in public life--and you lose a portion of your audience. Puppy asserted to me recently on Xamralco's talk page that, essentially, Fox News is a joke (because he defines it by episodes of poor reporting and extremist commentary). I say that, if something or someone is inherently a joke, the UnNews author has done nothing of value. A good UnNews makes its own jokes.12:50 6-Sep-12
- "if something or someone is inherently a joke, the UnNews author has done nothing of value." I'm inclined to agree with that entirely. There are two things that are really not funny - Describing why something intended to be funny, isn't funny; and describing why something not originally intended to be funny, is funny. Then again, I don't find most political articles funny anyway, but yeah, a lot of it's probably the advocacy thing. It's like how Family Guy is just Seth MacFarlane's personal liberal sounding board nowadays. There was an article featured recently, I forget which, that addressed this topic rather humorously actually. I think everybody could benefit from thinking of some of this and making some of their own jokes for political articles rather than just talking about the ridiculousness of it all. We're not a commentary website :P - 13:31, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
- If advocacy is done in a subtle or clever enough way to actually be funny, than it is a fine thing. If it hits you over the head with a nail bat, then the author has no business attempting to write comedy. Attempting to stylize all news articles in the form of a mild, beige chowder is certainly not the solution, though. --
13:37, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
- TKF is right. I personally don't have issues (obviously) with political advocacy or any other basis for humor if the piece is done well. The article in question ridicules something that I find ridiculous pretty well I think. Does this person truly believe that electing Obama will usher in a thousand years of darkness, whatever that is?! Ridiculous! And Spike, this article was not just reporting on the "gaffe" and adding something clever - I didn't just say stupidly that Gena Norris is ridiculous and stick my tongue out at her. DO you really get that from that article? Look at it. I took her ridiculous statement and extrapolated from it a speculative reality via ad absurdum. Also, I am not "defining a celebrity by his weakest moments" - nonsense. I'm satirizing something - one thing - that the Norrises put out there. If Mr. Norris gets too much of this, that's on him. This article is just one incident - keep it isolated. If any celebrity, spokesperson or other public figure - even one that I love without reservation - says or does something ridiculous and I have an idea to skewer it mercilessly as it deserves in a clever and amusing way, I will do it. Satire is its own justification. Do not dismiss something simply because it ridicules something you might revere, especially if it is well done. That alone should be the criteria by which we judge a satirical piece - is it done well, not what political position is it satirizing. If I lose audience because they love the ridiculous thing I'm making fun of, I take zero responsibility for that - that is on them. I am open to criticism, I will not take this idea into consideration. It's ridiculous. -- GlobalTourniquet: 16:37, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
Peace! I opened this Forum not because of GT's UnNews--on which my final word, above, was that it is "amusing and original"--but because of the morning's radio broadcasts, which struck me as similar in form to some UnNewses. It is not whether you have a bias, as I do, but whether the end product looks just like what some partisans produce. And no, TKF, I am not proposing a rule-based solution nor an orthodoxy, just offering an observation to future authors (and their critics). I agree with GT that how one evaluates an UnNews should depend on the article and not one's opinion on the underlying facts and people, but not that it is unimportant if the author harbors an underlying assumption that alienates some of the audience.17:50 6-Sep-12
- Love! How about I put it this way: I acknowledge that the degree of difficulty is elevated when satirizing something that is so ridiculous that it is its own joke. I agree that just reporting the gaffe and maybe adding a clever thing or two is lame. I submit, however, that this and this are examples of success in this area - examples of how to do it right (if i say so myself). Participating in the gaffer's alternate reality to show the absurdity of it is great satire in my view, and I will always strive to make that approach - when the fish are right there in the barrell - the best it can be. -- GlobalTourniquet: 17:56, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
- Oh but I glossed over a good debate point you raise there, Spike. If the author harbors an underlying assumption that alienates some of the audience, is that important? I say no, and you say yes. Let's have at it!
Let's not! Most importantly, a Forum where I ask authors to take an issue into consideration is not helped by asking them to take one side or the other. Separately, let me revise my statement to be more precise. I do not care what assumptions authors harbor. What is important is if an UnNews relies on such assumptions in lieu of adding original humor, such as Puppy's recent finale that said, essentially, "The source for this is Fox News--'Nuff said!" (As in: Everyone knows that Fox News is a joke; because, everyone doesn't.)18:48 6-Sep-12
- Well, sorry - my setting it up as a vote template is a silly joke taken too far perhaps. As I indicated (the facetious "non-binding" comment below) I just intended to have a constructive debate about the topic, because I think it is a good debate. I disagree in principle and I want to find where the nuances of our points might gestate a strong construct for UnNews as a whole. I don't mind alienating any part of the audience in any single instance - indeed I think you'll agree that will happen with every article to some degree. I don't want to alienate you, though, with my differing opinion. So, in that spirit, you did say that you think it is an important and presumably negative thing if an article alienates some portion of the audience with its underlying assumption, an opinion with which I strongly disagree. But now you say you don't care about said assumption as long as the piece doesn't rely on it without being original. That's a more nuanced statement and I think I agree with that entirely. But I would say I don't care about any particular aspect - assumptions, political stances, connections with reality, foul language or anything else - if it is a funny and original idea. That alone is enough for a thumbs up for me, along with good writing and adherence to certain standards of course. -- GlobalTourniquet: 19:17, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
On that note of partial agreement, I'll sign off--except to note that Hypster has added to the original talk page to note that the flame of his that started this off was meant as a caricature and not a serious complaint.23:04 6-Sep-12
Is it OK when the author of an UnNews article on our site (notwithstanding satire in general) harbors an underlying assumption that alienates some of the audience? The results of this vote will be non-binding; it is intended only for constructive debate.
- For. I would rather err on the side of alienating satire (if it's good) than on the side of beiging up so as not to offend peoples' delicate sensibilites. Look, I'll even skewer my own ridiculousness. I'm a huge Jim Jarmusch fan, and I know that I can sometimes think I'm better than you if you aren't into him, and that's totally lame of me. So I got the business from myself in that article. As Groucho Marx said, "Those are my opinions. If you don't like them, I have others." Of course I am a Gemini.-- GlobalTourniquet: 18:23, September 6, 2012 (UTC)
- For. When did we adopt a NPOV relating to politics? Should we rewrite Evolution, God, Conservapedia or most of our articles for having a bias towards an ideology or theology? Funny trumps bias. I have a personal bias myself - so far left I'm almost off the edge - but I find parody done well with a far right bias funny. Westboro Baptist even have their own parody section on their site which has some merit. • Puppy's talk page • 01:06 07 Sep
- Comedy shouldn't be mainstream. We should alienate. We should confuse and piss off. As long as we entertain. -- 07:03, September 7, 2012 (UTC)