Political Satire: When making fun is no laughing matter

Paper paper shining bright...but for how long? Cartoon by Mike Luckovich

My regular readers know my deep interest in political satire, and fascination with cartoons of all kinds including those political. On this blog, we’ve also discussed the worldwide decline in mainstream journalism.

I’ve just blended my thoughts in these strands in my latest op ed essay, ostensibly a book review. It has just been published by Groundviews.org as Political Satire in Sri Lanka: When Making Fun is No Laughing Matter

Here are the opening paras:

Political satire is nothing new: it has been around for as long as organised government, trying to keep the wielders of power in check. Over the centuries, it has manifested in many oral, literary or theatrical traditions, some of it more enduring — such as Gulliver’s Travels and Animal Farm. And for over a century, political cartoonists have also been doing it with such brilliant economy of words. Together, these two groups probably inspire more nightmares in tyrants than anyone or anything else.

“Today, political satire has also emerged as a genre on the airwaves and in cyberspace, and partly compensates for the worldwide decline in serious and investigative journalism. Many mainstream media outlets have become too submissive and subservient to political and corporate powers. Those who still have the guts often lack the resources and staff to pursue good journalism.

“If Nature abhors a vacuum, so does human society — and both conjure ways of quickly filling it up. Into this ‘journalism void’ have stepped two very different groups of people: citizen journalists, who take advantage of the new information and communications technologies (ICTs), and political satirists who revive the ancient arts of caricaturisation and ego-blasting…”

In this essay, I revisit a question I first posed in my July 2009 blog post: News wrapped in laughter: Is this the future of current affairs journalism?

Read the full essay:
Political Satire in Sri Lanka: When Making Fun is No Laughing Matter

You might also like to look at these other related blog posts:

August 2009: The XYZ Show: New horizon in political satire on African TV, but room to grow?

Sep 2009: XYZ Show controversy: Kenyan politicians forgetting ‘Hakuna matata’?

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