Satire is used to inform people or challenge people with new ideas and opinions. Political satirist P.J. O'Rourke once stated, "Satire does not affect change." At the time, he was referencing Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" not bringing about change in Ireland days after. With any situation, no true change and action can happen simply after a few days. Swift was able to inspire other political writers to educate their country's public on economic and social conditions in an entertaining way.
I do disagree with this quote because satire is a device used to inspire societal change or change someone's thought process. It wants people to understand more about the flaws of society and to expand their mindset to different points of view. When people are further educated on a certain issue, satire can make them reconsider their stance on it. It can spread a message to mass amounts of people in an entertaining way, adding a little humor to everyone’s life. I know it definitely is playing a significant role in this year's presidential race. Trump anyone?
If there was a lot of popular satire on a common, shared issue at a specific time, then people would respond more and want to do something about that issue because it is so relevant. For example, the rise of college debt is a major issue that over 40 million people struggle with. Rolling Stone magazine ran a satirical comic strip criticizing how student loans are crippling our economy. A father is shown asking his son what he majored in, and the son says he majored in debt. Then the father asks his son what that prepared him for and the son says a lifetime of debt.
Satire can also change the terms of debate in the political aspect. American politician William Tweed actually blamed his decline of political favor on artist Thomas Nast’s “damned pictures” in Harper’s Weekly. It is difficult to say that one drawing or article of a single individual changed a political structure massively. However, satire sets the trends of thought and can expose the false statements or mock the political stances that a politician has.
After the 2008 Republican National Convention, McCain overtook Obama in polls conducted for approval ratings. Soon after, Tina Fey did an "SNL" sketch dead-on impersonating their opponent and portraying her as a joke, Sarah Palin, and the sketch went viral. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and The Onion had previously attacked McCain’s running mate, which softened up Fey’s target. Overnight, McCain’s ratings dropped and the GOP ticket was lowered. When it is researched, crafted and delivered properly, satire can influence politics more than we think. More than we pay attention to, satire can change public opinion and introduce new thoughts that can lead to people acting on them.