Writing in a satirical age: The origin story of The Great American Cheese War
10/10/2019 | POSTED BY Abbie
Paul Flower, the author of The Great American Cheese War, shares his personal take on why satire is the weapon for our times.
Crazy world we have here. In the U.S., 40 percent of the electorate is under the spell of a third-rate con man with orange skin and a personality disorder. In Britain, a smaller, younger, goofier(?) populist is following a series of leaders over the cliff of Brexit.
Every day, we face a category five storm of horror politics. Twenty-four-hour news networks bombard us with the lurid details of leader ineptitude and social division. And online, the world comes together. To tear itself apart.
Conspiracy theories—lies dressed up to parade as truth—are growing like bacteria on Trump’s Twitter feed, making it nearly impossible to discern what’s true and what’s not.
Such theories have been part of American culture since the day Alexander Hamilton met secretly with a cabal of German violinists to plot the overthrow of Russia’s Catherine the Great.
You see what I did there. (I hope.) By creating a wacky theory of my own, about Hamilton and Catherine, I spoofed the notion of conspiracy theories. The “cabal of German violinists” softens the sting of the criticism. Well, unless you’re a German violinist.
For some people, satire at a time like this is completely inappropriate or at best, futile. What’s the point of making fun of the already absurd Boris Johnson or the real estate huckster in the fat suit who waddles into the oval office every morning around 11:00 a.m. to destroy the free world?
For me, dark humor is in my DNA.
When I was in eighth grade, I played cornet in the band. I was pretty good, thank you. But when we competed in a festival one autumn Saturday, the judges gave us a four rating. The highest rating was a one. The worst bands usually received threes.
After the event, my dad smiled, said “Hi, Paul,” and waved, palm out—four fingers up. Message received. A four rating was awful. But even when things are awful—especially when things are awful—you have to laugh.
Humor isn’t just an emotional diversion or an immature reaction to a difficult situation (although I’ll own both). It allows us to see today’s conspiracy mongering and lies for what they are. It shines light on the ridiculous and dangerous without all the screaming, fire-breathing, and division.
So go ahead. Fly your Trump-in-a-diaper balloon. Wig out at the Boris haircut.
By satirizing all of this, maybe we’ll find what we need most: the truth. And a good belly laugh.
Find out all about The Great American Cheese War here – and leave an online review to let us know what you think!
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