Editorial: The prominence of satire in presidential election season
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 30, 2012 22:09
The 2008 election between candidates Barack Obama and John McCain showed the country many things. It was a hard fought race and for the past four years, many have speculated on why the election went the way it did. One possible explanation that many academics are starting to entertain is that political satire made more of a difference than ever before.
Some of the most memorable and noteworthy elements of the previous election had to do with sketches on “Saturday Night Live,” segments from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” Tina Fey’s interpretation of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin made national news each week as she continued to don the outfit and mock parts of what Palin said in the news. Recently, Jay Pharoah took on the role of President Obama and made headlines, with experts speculating on whether he’s up for the task and how he’d portray the incumbent.
Satire in pop-culture is nothing new to politics, especially during an election year. However, something indescribable about the 2008 election season made political satire more of a factor to the undecided voter than ever. Many have speculated that it’s because of an increase in intellectual comics like Stewart and Bill Maher, who are given entire blocks of television to pontificate on complicated issues while still dumbing them down so that people can wrap their heads around them.
Others have blamed the widespread use of streaming video so that these insights and satires can be passed around to young voters in the country. Whatever the reason may be, the facts remain that in this upcoming election, political satire is expected to be a huge contributing factor in the upcoming election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.
While this may seem like a poor place to put our generation’s political opinions, at the very least, it’s something that will get people engaged. The biggest pitfall to having comedians dictate popular political opinion is that they aren’t necessarily unbiased and are in a position to push an agenda. However, the alternative to this is to leave people who would otherwise not be informed before voting to be somewhat informed. These satirists are not necessarily just comics with whoopee-cushions. Many of them are intellectual and well informed themselves.
While this isn’t the best way to inform an electorate, the alternative should be unacceptable. Perhaps this is a rare occasion of art having a direct affect on the world. This election year, it is important for the informed among us to consume the satire critically. However, if there absolutely needs to be those who will allow satire alone to inform their decision, which after 2008 people believe is more true than ever, at the very least the satire is coming from an informed place.