Satire in Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff Is Just What the Doctor Ordered to Help Fix America

Satire in Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff Is Just What the Doctor Ordered to Help Fix America

Sean Penn uses the oldest form of political dissent to speak up to power


Where would literature be without satire? From George Orwell to Stephen Colbert, satire has carried us through every era of American history with cunning honesty.

I see satire is a form of social progress. As a college student, and attentive reader of the constant news cycle, I often rely on comedy as a way to digest and reflect on what it means to be an American today. The Colbert Report, SNL, Key and Peele, and Seth Meyers have safeguarded America's sense of humor by exposing truth through wit and subtle satire.

Satire is a tool to move stagnated conversations forward and disrupt the rhetoric commonly used to discuss sensitive topics. It steps outside the bounds of "political correctness" to reveal the absurdities that other forms of literature are too polite to discuss. That's clear in Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, Sean Penn's debut novel uses satire to take a good, hard look at the America of present.

The novel follows Bob, an average blue-collar American with a second life as a skilled assassin. Penn highlights the ironies and shortcomings of American society through the everyday trials and tribulations of Bob's not-so-average life.

Penn doesn't hold back with his commentary. It may be pointed and crass at times but his dialogue is necessary, especially considering the hefty topics he takes on and the caricature he paints of America's current political system. His work looks at issues with a wide lens and peels away the societal norms that protect them.

Social commentary is grounded in the ability to see and recognize the absurdity of one's cultural counterparts. That's absolutely necessary in today's society. We've spiraled into an ego-driven, shallow, social-justice-warrior version of what it means to fight for freedom and democratic ideals. Social media exacerbates this. It's a safe place to express outrage without action and feeds into a culture that encourages personal branding instead of personal development and substantive individual thought.

Never before has American culture relied so heavily on the power of the individual and cultivating that image to the extreme. "Branding is being! Branding is being! The algorithm for modern binary existentialism," Penn writes in Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. Yet never before has the individual in American been so cowardly and unwilling to step away from the noise. Bob Honey does just that. It consumes the noise, digests it, and spits it back at us in the rawest form. In many ways, Penn calls America out on the funny-business that's gone on under the table for far too long.

Sean Penn isn't shy. There's satire dripping from every passage of his work – biting criticisms for a system he knows all too well. Satire allows him to express this in a way that's engaging and different. It gets people's attention in a way that any other form of prose can't.

The problems of our society are rearing their ugly heads in everyday life. Violence, xenophobia, and inequality are rampant. Too many are willing to tweet about it and then forget. But 140 characters is not enough to express nor capture the outrage that we all should be feeling. Like any other form of expression, getting down to the nitty-gritty of what's wrong with our society requires creativity. In the case of Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff, it seems satire is just what the doctor ordered – a cure in the form of an average Bob. "His ability wasn't brandable, but it was Bob. Bob Honey."

We are bound by ideals, values, and beliefs that are the bedrock of American culture. At some level, society relies and thrives on that uniformity. But there would be no progress if writers and thinkers were not bold enough to challenge those norms. It's those ideas, expressed creatively as humor and satire, that will ultimately shape the society we become.

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An Oath To Make Every Day A 'Treat Yo' Self' Day

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health is #period.


It's easy to get caught up in the midst of things. To go through life every day just rushing and pushing to move onto the next thing and the next thing and the next.

With it being school season and with fall rolling in, it's easy to just want to move onto the next day, never focusing on what's going on in front of you.

The weather gets colder, the nights get darker, the days get shorter, and that's all we seem to feel. It's important to remind yourself that it's OK to take a deep breath and step back. It's important to take care of yourself and to give yourself extra love sometimes.

A lot of people focus on making sure everyone else around them is getting enough care and maintaining a healthy life, but for some reason, it's always difficult to do that to ourselves.

That's the selfless act of it all.

I am a firm believer in self-care and self-help days. Days where we wake up in the morning and feel so blah with our self that we just need a day to take time to regroup and reenergize. I grew up in such a comforting environment to know that it is OK to take time for yourself.

There are so many different forms of self-care and I think people always look at self-care as taking a bath or taking a nap, which is totally valid. But there's so much more to that.

Self-care is taking care of your body and rejuvenating it and making sure it has all the energy it can have again. It's not just about your mental health, but self-care is also about your physical health by eating good foods and getting a good amount of sleep.

Take a long, hot shower, cook yourself a healthy home-cooked meal, do the face mask, turn on all the soft toned lights you can find, and burn all the candles possible and indulge yourself in silence and early sleep.

We are constantly in a rush and going and going that we don't really realize when enough is enough. And that's OK! Work and school and maintaining a routine is important, there's a purpose to what you're doing and a drive to your actions.

But it's so important to listen to your body and listen to it when it's telling you to halt and take care of yourself.

A lot of times you find yourself stuck in school or at work. Superiors above you and professors don't always understand what you're going through and how detrimental a buildup of stress can be. You have to take time for you.

At the end of the day, you're in control of your own actions and own disciplines. You have to dip into your mental health and listen to your own body when you can't take certain things anymore.

Self-care is important.

Taking care of your body physically and mentally and the ultimate successor. Only you are in control of that.

Find the ways that your body builds off of mental health.

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I'm So Over Having To Fake Apathy To Fit In

I care deeply about everything I do, and that isn't a flaw.


As an introvert and an overthinker, going to college—where I've been in a new environment, surrounded by strangers—has meant constantly second-guessing my slightest actions.

I want to fit in. To belong, even if it means muting my personality. I know that desire should have been eradicated by all the children's media that inundated my generation with the message that being different is okay and changing to please other people is wrong.

Still, it feels vulnerable to stick out.

And in college, any deviation from bland apathy is sticking out.

I still remember trying to message my suitemates before any of us arrived at college so that we could coordinate our dorm's decor. Mostly, they didn't respond. I toned down my excitement accordingly. I learned then that showing enthusiasm was taboo.

Later, one of my quasi-friends often complained about our class together. We were always doing silly get-to-know-you games, even by May. She thought the whole thing was a waste of time. On our last day of class, she couldn't wait to leave.

But while I rolled my eyes at the icebreakers along with her, I also liked the sense of community. I would miss the class.

But I didn't know how to say so. So I pretended to have a neutral opinion about the class: less negative than she was, but also less positive than I was.

College students, I think, are mostly trying to seem aloof and disinterested. It's a return to the middle school mindset when "tryhard" was a scathing insult.

Maybe it stems from the facade of calm competency we're all trying to establish—you never want to seem overwhelmed in an environment where everyone else is thriving. And enthusiasm is just the positive incarnation of frantic stress; either way, you're overly invested in something that provokes no such emotional reaction from your peers.

You're allowed to complain about homework and tests, but you can't talk about loneliness or homesickness. You're allowed to brag when your school wins a big game or sends alumni to the Oscars, but you aren't allowed to delight in its everyday programming. You're allowed to love your school or hate it, but not too much of either.

Anything deeper than surface-level emotional reactions makes you vulnerable.

But I'm not an apathetic person. I care, and I care deeply. I feel deeply. And I am, and have always been, a so-called tryhard.

I think a lot about a John Green quote: "Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can't-control-yourself love it." And then, "When people call people nerds, mostly what they're saying is 'you like stuff.' Which is just not a good insult at all."

If being enthusiastic about my day-to-day existence at a place I spend eight months out of the year is a risk, I want to take that risk. I don't want to roll my eyes in time with everyone else if it means losing a chance to be happy here.

If the worst other people can say about me is that I try too hard and I care too much, then I'm probably doing just fine.

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