Satire is having a unique cultural moment. Conversations about what constitutes satire, why it should be performed, and how can it be done ethically are abundant in American popular culture. As with many forms of art and entertainment, satire has become a major subject of discussion in the great American Culture Wars: the conflict between the highly stratified ideological poles of right and left over the dominance of each's closely held social values, political ideals, and aesthetic sensibilities. Divides, real and imagined, in the American public have given popular discourse a sharp and biting edge, driven by growing political polarization and rampant misinformation, spurred by completely new forms of online communication, and exacerbated by a publicly ineffectual government. The use of art as political propaganda is nothing new; what is unique is the degree to which taste culture and artistic preference are now markers of identity and allegiance. The stakes of the discourse surrounding nearly all art and entertainment feel considerably higher than in other recent periods in America's history. Satire's strengths lie in its ability to wound its target and reveal truth to its audience. Thus, is the form an answer to our collective crisis of national dividedness? A means of dispelling the fog of fraudulence and holding to account those responsible for its existence? Or is satire kindling for the Culture Wars' blaze: an accelerant to America's growing mean-spirited, bad faith, point scoring political actors? Through utilization of several modern and historical theoretical perspectives on the form in performance, as well as a personal reflection on my own work producing and acting in a reading of C.J. Hopkins play The Extremists, I seek to probe satire: our understanding of what it is, how it works, and if it is useful.
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Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Betts, Carson, ""Keep your facts, I'm going with the Truth": Toward an Ethical Perfromance of Satire in the Age of Hyper-Polarization and Culture War" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 474.