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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

Satire and Irony
Topic by: Battie
Posted: May 24, 2005 - 9:35 PM PDT
Last Reply: May 30, 2005 - 2:34 PM PDT

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author topic: Satire and Irony
Battie
post #1  on May 24, 2005 - 9:35 PM PDT  
I have a pretty good idea of what satire is, and an excellent understanding of what irony is. But no examples in movies.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is satire, right? Any good movies that are based on satire? What about irony?

Basically, I am yet again asking for information. ^_^
jross3
post #2  on May 25, 2005 - 2:07 AM PDT  
I might say that "Team America: World Police" is something like satire....

If I were to say that satire is something like humorous commentary on contemporary culture, most spoof movies would qualify.

Hmm..... [thinking really, really hard]
.......... hmmmmmmmmm........

How about "Analyse This"? They make fun of therapy and organized crime! The therapist keeps his head-shrinker perspective through most of the movie, even when they're definately not on the couch, so I guess it could qualify....

but I have to admit that I'm probably a little fuzzy on the definition of "satire" outside of stand-up comedy (check out "Original Kings of Comedy" and maybe "Blue Collar Comedy Tour") and sit-down commedy (like Jay Leno and the Daily Show).

On a tangentially related subject - You know what? Jay Leno showed a local ad on his Headlines segment! It was from the local paper, an ad for the "Cinco de Mayo" parade they were having near here (in rual areas, we're less specific when we say "local"). It was the one with a "Pickup truck with Mexicans" listed as a float... We're, like, almost sorta famous by chain association! yay, I get something to brag about!
jross3
post #3  on May 25, 2005 - 2:12 AM PDT  
Oh, and irony... well, ironic plot twists are parts of lots of movies, aren't they?

I'll suggest "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" because it's been a long time since I've seen it and I think it qualifies. "Irony" as I understand it seems to be the overall theme of the movie, really...
hamano
post #4  on May 25, 2005 - 2:40 AM PDT  
First some definitions... Irony is a tool used in writing Satire according to this useful website.

Irony

A mode of expression, through words (verbal irony) or events (irony of situation), conveying a reality different from and usually opposite to appearance or expectation. A writer may say the opposite of what he means, create a reversal between expectation and its fulfillment, or give the audience knowledge that a character lacks, making the character's words have meaning to the audience not perceived by the character. In verbal irony, the writer's meaning or even his attitude may be different from what he says: "Why, no one would dare argue that there could be anything more important in choosing a college than its proximity to the beach." An example of situational irony would occur if a professional pickpocket had his own pocket picked just as he was in the act of picking someone else's pocket. The irony is generated by the surprise recognition by the audience of a reality in contrast with expectation or appearance, while another audience, victim, or character puts confidence in the appearance as reality (in this case, the pickpocket doesn't expect his own pocket to be picked). The surprise recognition by the audience often produces a comic effect, making irony often funny.

An example of dramatic irony (where the audience has knowledge that gives additional meaning to a character's words) would be when King Oedipus, who has unknowingly killed his father, says that he will banish his father's killer when he finds him.

Irony is the most common and most efficient technique of the satirist, because it is an instrument of truth, provides wit and humor, and is usually at least obliquely critical, in that it deflates, scorns, or attacks.

The ability to detect irony is sometimes heralded as a test of intelligence and sophistication. When a text intended to be ironic is not seen as such, the effect can be disastrous. Some students have taken Swift's "Modest Proposal" literally. And Defoe's contemporaries took his "Shortest Way with the Dissenters" literally and jailed him for it. To be an effective piece of sustained irony, there must be some sort of audience tip-off, through style, tone, use of clear exaggeration, or other device.

Satire

A literary mode based on criticism of people and society through ridicule. The satirist aims to reduce the practices being attacked by laughing scornfully at them--and being witty enough to allow the reader to laugh, also. Ridicule, irony, exaggeration, and several other techniques are almost always present. The satirist may insert serious statements of value or desired behavior, but most often he relies on an implicit moral code, understood by his audience and paid lip service by them. The satirist's goal is to point out the hypocrisy of his target in the hope that either the target or the audience will return to a real following of the code. Thus, satire is inescapably moral even when no explicit values are promoted in the work, for the satirist works within the framework of a widely spread value system. Many of the techniques of satire are devices of comparison, to show the similarity or contrast between two things. A list of incongruous items, an oxymoron, metaphors, and so forth are examples. See The Purpose and Method of Satire for more information.

Sarcasm

A form of sneering criticism in which disapproval is often expressed as ironic praise. (Oddly enough, sarcastic remarks are often used between friends, perhaps as a somewhat perverse demonstration of the strength of the bond--only a good friend could say this without hurting the other's feelings, or at least without excessively damaging the relationship, since feelings are often hurt in spite of a close relationship. If you drop your lunch tray and a stranger says, "Well, that was really intelligent," that's sarcasm. If your girlfriend or boyfriend says it, that's love--I think.)

Now it occurs to me that most of the stuff I post hover between sarcasm and satire...
hamano
post #5  on May 25, 2005 - 3:14 AM PDT  
Organized religion is often a fertile ground for the satirist.
Life of Brian
Saved!

Films based on Jane Austen novels have lots of commentary on class and culture featuring ironic plot twists. They're not that MEAN, though...
Emma
Sense and Sensibility
Clueless

Obviously This is Spinal Tap

and other movies featuring Christopher Guest...
Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind...

Those films remind me that fake documentaries are almost always satirical films...
Man Bites Dog

Nowadays Reality TV is ripe for satire... There's
The Truman Show and what was that one where ordinary people are given assassination assignments for a game show?

Oh, and Network is a classic...

My favorite is still Tampopo... although The Funeral and A Taxing Woman are probably sharper examples of social/political satire...
hamano
post #6  on May 25, 2005 - 3:27 AM PDT  
> On May 25, 2005 - 3:14 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> and what was that one where ordinary people are given assassination assignments for a game show?

Ah, Series 7... that's it...

It strikes me that many movies in a contest setting are satires...
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Bring it On

Oh, I forgot political satire...
Election was cute!
hamano
post #7  on May 25, 2005 - 3:32 AM PDT  
Being There... the ultimate in gentle, yet sharp political satire...

Oh, there's a Satire genre category at GreenCine! Well, it's really too many titles to be very helpful... how ironic!
Battie
post #8  on May 25, 2005 - 5:57 AM PDT  
> On May 25, 2005 - 3:32 AM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Being There... the ultimate in gentle, yet sharp political satire...
>
> Oh, there's a Satire genre category at GreenCine! Well, it's really too many titles to be very helpful... how ironic!
> ---------------------------------

LOL! Darn it, I should pay more attention to that helpful menu on the left...

I've actually seen many of those you mentioned. :P Series 7 could've been a really good movie...if USA hadn't been involved.
hamano
post #9  on May 25, 2005 - 7:42 AM PDT  
Then it's kinda ironic that you said:

> I have a pretty good idea of what satire is, and an excellent understanding of what irony is. But no examples in movies.

Then you said:

> I've actually seen many of those you mentioned. :P

Were you going for a narrower definition of "satire?" Maybe "sardonic and caustic" or "viciously sarcastic" satire?
Eoliano
post #10  on May 25, 2005 - 10:53 AM PDT  
Here's a short list of some ironical and biting satires, some of which are very cynical: Dr. Strangelove Network, The Manchurian Candidate, M*A*S*H & Palm Beach Story.

Given his appreciation for satire, I expect underdog will eventually add a few more titles...
woozy
post #11  on May 25, 2005 - 1:30 PM PDT  
None of you are giving examples of movies that very clearly demonstrate "irony". George Bernard Shaw plays such as "Major Barbara" are ironic. Oh, and "Citizen Ruth". M*A*S*H is pretty ironic. The Sopranos is pretty satirical (and ironic).

As hamano pointed out, irony is a primary tool of satire, so to distinguish a movie as "ironic" and distinct from "satiric" is a matter of distinguishing the tone (irony- a method, ironic- an adjective) from the product (satire- a product). A film that has many ironic events and a view of life that individuals on the whole are doing acts on what one-self percieves but which are invariably bling to what others are doing and those life as an interaction between people is full of individual acts working *against* a group interaction, that *isn't* a satire is "Crimes of the Heart".
hamano
post #12  on May 25, 2005 - 1:56 PM PDT  
> On May 25, 2005 - 1:30 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> None of you are giving examples of movies that very clearly demonstrate "irony".

Oh, great woozy, thank you for chastising us for our sub-par suggestions! We will endeavor to put in a greater effort in the future, but by no means will we be able to match your erudition in such matters!

Hm... a film's plot could hinge on a point of irony, but can a whole film be described as ironic? Does it really matter, since Battie says she has an excellent grasp of the concept of irony already? If that's really the case, she'll know it when she sees it.

Anyway, if we're going to define a film by the quality of irony, my top recommendation would be Dead Ringers by David Cronenberg. It's at least as twice as Ironic as any other film.
^_^

Oh, I suppose as a film as a whole, Burden of Dreams by Les Blank could be described as ironic. Because it shows that Werner Herzog is even whackier and obsessive than the obsessed title character in his film Fitzcarraldo, played by whacko Klaus Kinsky. As such it's a demonstration of pure irony, with no aspect of satire whatsoever... Fitzcarraldo could be described as both ironic and satiric, I guess...
Eoliano
post #13  on May 25, 2005 - 1:58 PM PDT  
Thanks for pointing out to us how unimportant our contributions are... you have such a graciously tactful way about you sometimes woozy.

Anyhow, here's my one and only ironic title...

That's all folks!
hamano
post #14  on May 25, 2005 - 2:04 PM PDT  
Is Barton Fink an ironic film? The character Jack Lipnick (the movie mogul) is certainly satiric...
hamano
post #15  on May 25, 2005 - 2:07 PM PDT  
> On May 25, 2005 - 1:58 PM PDT Eoliano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Anyhow, here's my one and only ironic title...

Hah! Good one, Eo! Too bad Jeremy wasn't cast in that one as twin cleaners or something...
Eoliano
post #16  on May 25, 2005 - 2:16 PM PDT  
> Hah! Good one, Eo! Too bad Jeremy wasn't cast in that one as twin cleaners or something...

Right you are, in fact, he would have lent just the right balance of wit, charm and irony, not to mention a degree of pressing menace and sharp creases...
woozy
post #17  on May 25, 2005 - 2:29 PM PDT  
> Oh, great woozy, thank you for chastising us for our sub-par suggestions! We will endeavor to put in a greater effort in the future, but by no means will we be able to match your erudition in such matters!
>
I'll forgive this because I was such an ass to you last night so it's understandable that you would, and I deserve, lashing out, but ferkryssaick, I'm not chastising sub-par suggestions, just stating "irony" as a film hasn't been explored here. Not because your suggestions are bad, just because no-one had attempted to find an example of "irony" specific.

> Hm... a film's plot could hinge on a point of irony, but can a whole film be described as ironic?

Well, that's kind of hard. "Major Barbara" (do-gooders doing no good, and the cynical selfish motivations of altruistic organizations) was the best I could come up with. As you say, a point or theme, or event, or outcome is ironic but a movie (which is a series of points, themes, or events, or outcomes) might not really be "ironic".

>
>
>

Some folks use the term "irony" to reflect the self-referential that mocks it's expression. Putting a rubber cow in a cabinet among your fine china. Or Koontz' white ceramic sculpture of Michael Jackson and Bubbles. Certain Seinfeld episodes are described as Irony such as the episode where Elaine's boyfriend is just a little too sociable with Jerry's parents (sees Schindler's list and ultimately reanacts Schindler's list in their farewell-- Had a long discussion with a former boss at the University Press when one of our journals compared this episode to literary devices of the 19th century serial novel-- which in itself is quite ironic). "The Doom Generation" might be such or the stupid "Ray and Silent Bob" movies.
NLee
post #18  on May 25, 2005 - 2:30 PM PDT  
Satire movies are easy to find. All Monty Python movies are satire. So is 'Wag the Dog'.

There are not many movies that I consider irony but not satire. Here's one example: Kagemusha: The Shadow Warrior. Especially ironic is the scene where the body guards are shielding the (fake) warlord from snipper fires.
NLee
post #19  on May 25, 2005 - 2:35 PM PDT  
> On May 25, 2005 - 2:29 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I'll forgive this because I was such an ass to you last night ...
> ---------------------------------

Hey Woozy! What you and Eoliano did last night is none of our business. Spare us the details please.
^_^
Eoliano
post #20  on May 25, 2005 - 2:45 PM PDT  
> Hey Woozy! What you and Eoliano did last night is none of our business. Spare us the details please. ^_^

My dear NLee, why drag my name into the mud... you might consider your remarks before posting them... If you have anything you wish to say to me you can tell me in private! ^=^
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