Simanaitis Says

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ON SATIRE, SELF-INFLICTED AND OTHERWISE

SATIRE STRETCHES from Aristophanes’ The Wasps to Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz to Vaughn Meader’s parodies of JFK to today’s Saturday Night Live and recent goings-on with the U.S. President-in-Wanting.

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Aristophanes, c. 446 B.C.-c. 386 B.C., Greek playwright.

Michael Flanders of the Flanders and Swann comedy duo said, “The purpose of satire, it has been rightly said, is to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cozy half-truth–and our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.”

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Michael Flanders, 1922-1975, left, and Donald Swann, 1923-1994, incomparable British comedy duo.

Satire has had its historic ups and downs, and occasionally a thriving of its own unintentionally self-inflicted variety. I recall Tom Lehrer’s great line during the Viet Nam era: “Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.”

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Tom Lehrer, New York City-born 1928, American mathematician, satirist, pianist.

Don’t I recall other similar awardings?

There’s also the recent self-inflicted satire, some might say “lying,” of the President-in-Wanting and his team denying televised evidence of him mocking a disabled journalist. Did it really, really happen? Weren’t those videos doctored?

Which remind me of the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz: He tells Dorothy and her pals to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. In other words, believe only what I want you to believe.

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“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

In the President-in-Wanting’s defense, Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway complained “you always want to go with what comes out of his mouth rather than look in his heart.”

As Anna Russell used to say of the more astonishing parts of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, “I’m not making this up.”

Speaking of hearts, I also recall another bit of satire stretching back to President Jimmy Carter, a noble man if not the most effective of presidents. In a very introspective Playboy interview (not quite locker room talk, but…) Carter admitted that he too knew lust: “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Carter’s Saturday Night Live imitator Dan Aykroyd to add, “and now my heart is riddled with gonorrhea.”

And then there are the recent intelligence reports that suggest the President-in-Wanting has been involved in certain er… Russian pranks.

Geez. Here’s a time when the President-in-Wanting and I agree: I too have been to Russia, and I wasn’t stupid enough to hook up; not that I was ever asked, mind.

Well, denial is what came out of his mouth in yesterday’s press conference. But I sure wish I knew what he felt in his heart. ds

c Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2017

2 comments on “ON SATIRE, SELF-INFLICTED AND OTHERWISE

  1. julian assange (just kidding)
    January 16, 2017

    You know Dennis, I’ve been a reader (and fan) of your blog for some time. I found your comentary on science, technology, literature, and other topics interesting and informative. But believe me when I say that I am not interested in your personal political bias. For all of Donald Trumps personality shortcomings, I don’t believe he is the incompetent, unprincipled liar and enemy of the constitution of the United States that both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama so obviously are. I’ll be saying farewell now.

    • simanaitissays
      January 16, 2017

      Thanks for your kind words. Political satire is a bellwether of the body politic.
      And Dennis is my real name.

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