Satire

I wrote a post on Friday https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.com/2023/01/20/anything-can-happen-friday-unlikable-female-protagonist/ that talked about a trigger warning in the Hulu streamed film Not Okay. After one of my blog friends pointed out that the film was supposed to be a satire, (which I disagree with completely) there was discussion that the trigger warning was satirical. So lets talk about this.

WARNING- THERE WILL BE SPOILER SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW PARTICULARS ABOUT NOT OKAY, READ NO FURTHER. I’LL FORGIVE YOU

What is SATIRE?

Per New Oxford American Dictionarythe use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize stupidity or vices

Does Not Okay fit that definition of satire?

I don’t think so. I think the opening scene does show an ignorant character. She does say some stupid things. However, I did not view it as the filmmakers being satirical- I found it to be a judgement more than anything else, more of a mock than a satire.

What is to mock?

Per New Oxford American Dictionarytease or laugh at in a scornful or contemptuous manner

Is there a difference between mock and satire?

I think to satirize is to exaggerate something so people can see how ridiculous something is- I don’t necessarily think it is done with spite or malice. I think mocking is mean spirited and passive aggressive nasty.

Why do I think the movie is not a satire?

The character says stupid things and is ignorant of many things, including her own privilege. You do chuckle at her in the beginning, but her behavior after that is more contemptuous. You don’t like her and it’s no longer funny- it’s just not a character that you want to like. Not liking a character because she makes poor life choices and decisions is not satire.

If a movie is a satire, does the theme need to carry through from start to finish?

When I think of Dr. Strangelove or more recently Don’t Look Up or The Menu, the theme is carried through from start to finish. There is no doubt what you are watching is satire, and at least in the case of Dr., hilariously funny. The movies end in the most ridiculous ways possible. In Not Okay, the ending is sad. There is no funny or satirical overtone- it is straight up contempt for the main character, the unlikable female protagonist. Can it be a satire if it doesn’t end satirically?

If the content warning was supposed to be a joke, should they have included TRAUMA in the warning?

This is why I think it was done intentionally: trauma is something that would be put in a content advisory, because there are people who really want to know this. If the unlikable protagonist was supposed to be funny, wouldn’t it have been in bad taste to include them in the warning together?

Your turn:

  1. How do you define satire?
  2. What are the best satires you’ve seen/read?
  3. Do you think because someone says that something is satire, that it really is satire, or does it have to pass the smell test?

Positive Outcome

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

Orson Welles

When doing five minutes of research, I realized that I probably shouldn’t title my post happy endings, but essentially my thoughts and queries revolve around the term happy ending as it applies to books, movies, and life.

How do you define the words happy ending or positive outcome?

Much of fiction ends “happy”. Good guy wins out, the couple fall in love, the moral dilemma is resolved. But just because things end where the audience thinks they should, does it necessarily mean that it’s happy?

I’m going to give you a spoiler alert about Friends- the on again off again relationship between Ross and Rachel appears to be on for good as the show takes its final bow. There are many that think this is the ultimate relationship and this is the ending they wanted all along. However, Rachel gives up a dream job in Paris to stay with Ross. Is it happy or settling?

I recently watched a TV movie with my daughter- one of those Netflix things about a twenty something that does something stupid. What made this movie different was that many people would not consider it to conclude on a positive note. While some of the things said are a step forward, the viewer is left wondering how the protagonist will fare in the future. Of course, the warning label before the movie said “drug use, sexual situations and unlikeable female character” so apparently the American public needs to know when it might not be happy ever after and they need to be prepared… (I guess I could write a whole blog just about that phenomena…)

How do you define happy ending/positive outcome?

Can you give an example about an ending that was positive that you thought was good?

Can you give an example of an ending that was not “happy” and why it did or did not work?

What do you think of the Welles quote?

Happy ending: Yes or No?

What are we doing?

I wonder if it’s shyness- whether Sasha and I should be asking him more about what he’s doing. But Mile’s history makes those questions feel loaded, or patronizing, and anyway, we’re in our fifties- do people even ask what we’re “doing” anymore? Hasn’t that already been decided?

Jennifer Egan Candy House

For my friends who are in their 50’s or beyond: Do we know what we are doing?

Ok- loaded question. But do we tend to write-off people who are older, and assume they have nothing going on in their lives? Or that everything is same old, same old?

While I admit I don’t lead the most exciting life, I like to think that I have a life– that I do things, that I try new things, that I still have lots of innings left in the ball game. I hope that people want to ask what I am “doing” because I hope that I am still “doing”.

But do we stop trying as we get older?

Do we stick to the same patterns and routines?

Do you not ask your friends and acquaintances what they are doing because you already know the answer?

Discuss:

Sinners?

Holding my phone, looking out at Lake Michigan, I understood with sudden clarity that doing the right thing- being right- gets you nothing in this world. It’s the sinners everyone loves: the flailers, the scramblers, the bumblers. There was nothing sexy about getting it right the first time. Jennifer Egan The Candy House

I’ve been thinking about this since I read the book…

Do we idolize sinners?

Do we love to glorify the people who do bad, as opposed to those who do good?

On job interviews, do we ask when was the biggest screw-up, and how did you overcome that?

Do we think that people who never screw up don’t take enough risk, and therefore don’t deserve our time?

I admit, this quote made me STOP when I read the book: I reread the quote at least three times. In a world where I have tried to teach my daughter that she should do the “right” thing, have I been steering her wrong this entire time? While I’ve given her the latitude to make mistakes, and gave her tiny pushes outside her comfort zone…I’ve tried to make sure she followed the path that was lined with good intentions…that she was a “good” person, not quite a “sinner”…

Was I wrong?

Do we really admire those who don’t follow the “rules”?

So what do you think about the quote, about “sinners”, about anything I touched on:

Discuss:

Official Ruling: Error- Editor

A few months ago I read Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman. Let me start by saying that I enjoy the books that Waxman has written, including this one. They are charming and fun and full of heart. I was so looking forward to this one, I preordered it.

Waxman loves quirky characters, which is one of the reasons that I like her work so much. Her characters are real, multi faceted, interesting and fun. In this particular book her protagonist is a woman who loves baseball.

Great. I love baseball. OK- I love the Mets, but as they play baseball we can run with an if/than…

Well, she has her baseball loving character refer to the guy in black who stands behind the base as a REFEREE.

REFEREE?

REFEREE?

For those who don’t understand my consternation, the officials who preside over a baseball game are UMPIRES.

I immediately find her contact info and I email her. My tone was probably incredulous- I said something like- you’ve set women who like sports back to the stones ages… I was mad, and I am positive it came across that way.

Within minutes of me sending the email, Waxman wrote me back.

First off- she was completely apologetic and couldn’t comprehend how that little tidbit was missed in the editing process.

She thanked me for alerting her to the error.

She wrote me a few hours later to tell me that it had been fixed for future editions of the book, including the paperback version. Again she gave apologies on behalf of herself and her publishing house.

So now, I have complete and total respect for Waxman not only as an author, but as a person. And I feel a little bad that I went a little crazy in my email.

I’ll ask you all to read at least one of Waxman’s novels, to show a little support and solidarity to an author who responded quickly, acknowledged the mistake, and writes a tidy little novel.


One of my blog friends posted this yesterday and I thought it was something interesting to think about: https://bleuwater.me/2022/07/19/something-to-scratch-your-head-about/

and

One of my blog friends posted this http://myricopia.com/2022/07/19/hangin-on-the-line/ and I thought it was just fun and cool.

Anything Can Happen Friday: The Best Marriage Ever

I recently bought a book at Barnes & Noble and the receipt showed up as BN/Paper Source. I had completely forgotten that BN bought Paper Source last year.

My very two favorite stores in the world got married.

Huzzah

My two most favorite browsing experiences are in stationary stores and book stores- the mere thought that all this paper and ink goodness has become a union is almost too exciting for me to handle. I am awash with glee!

Insert smiley face, hearts and exclamation points…

I don’t normally push recently married couples to have children, but really, I am anxiously awaiting the day when there is a BN/PS superstore… Can you imagine the planner section? The journals? The range of happiness and you go girl books on personal growth? And what about tea and all its accoutrements? Coffee table books about art and the color Pink, and maybe even the singer Pink…The possibilities are endless.

This is the marriage I am most rooting for- this is the marriage I really want to make it for the long haul…

So congratulations to my two favorite stores. Remember, communication, respect and an occasional compromise are key to a successful marriage. May the honeymoon period last forever.

The English Major

I have a BA in English Lit. This is surprising to many because I have a horrible command of grammar. I have to remind people that it is not a degree in the language per se, but a degree in the words…

People are also surprised to learn that my heart goes to all books great and small because I am an analytical person- I am fully based on logic and reasoning and proof. For some reason, those around me do not see logic and literature going hand in hand. Yet I am here to tell you that being a student of literature is one of the most analytic in town.

As a lit major, all you do is read things and look for clues.

You figure out foreshadowing and motivation: You scan for literary devices and tropes. You look for flaws in the authors reasoning. If that’s not analytics, I don’t know what is.

When I read, multiple things are going on in my brain. I am looking at the words- I am looking to how one word goes in front of the other and I marvel at how the author strung the words together to start an idea, how the sentences coexist to add the argument of the idea, and how the paragraph sort of wraps it up. It’s the beauty of language, the richness of the vocabulary, the way the sounds meld together.

I love how an author will create the layers- how they put a germ of something on page five, and then continue to back it up at various points in the work. And I love looking for the evidence of this.

I love when I am able to decipher the clues that an author has sprinkled throughout a work- when I as a reader get the “Aha” moment… whether it is the “who” in the whodunit, the “what” in a story of love and loss, or the “why” a character did what they did.

Reading is like solving a puzzle where the pieces are all over the place- but if we take one piece at a time and categorize it, we are soon able to put the puzzle together and enjoy the whole that became of separate parts.

That’s all analytical

And it’s why I say to never underestimate an English Lit major- we might know more than you think we do.

The Two Doors

The Grolier Club is a private club in NYC- Members Only.

Whatever.

Recently, Grolier opened it’s doors to the public for a wonderful exhibit on Sherlock Holmes. Of course I went…

So I see the exhibit (221 artifacts about Sherlock, even though I think there were only 219, but whatever) After I looked at the exhibit I needed to go to the bathroom.

Fine.

Bathroom through a door and downstairs,

Fine.

I go down the stairs- Go down a narrow hallway, not particularly well lit, and very very empty.

Fine.

Finally find the bathroom.

Fine.

Exit into the slightly creepy hallway. Find the stairs.

Fine.

Go up the steps.

Turn the doorknob.

Locked Door.

Not fine.

Did I ever tell you I once got locked in an airplane bathroom and I now have a total fear of locked doors and claustrophobia andpanicsetsinifIamfacedwithalockeddoor?

LOCKED DOOR

LOCKED DOOR

LOCKED DOOR

SO NOT FINE

I’m starting to sweat. Two seconds into this escapade and all rational and semi rational thought has escaped my brain. I start imagining that instead of being a club dedicated to celebrating the art and history of the book since 1884, they have some nefarious goings on. Perhaps the Sherlock Holmes exhibit is an excuse to gather all amateur sleuths and bookworms into one place, and enact their own Holmesian mystery. Maybe Moriarty is really in charge.

OMG I’m locked in the Grolier Club and I can’t get out!

Ahhhh….

What would Miss Marple do?

What would Miss Marple do?

She would probably calm herself. OK- she wouldn’t have freaked out to begin with, but I can regroup…

I shake it off. (Imagine me shaking my head and arms and doing a little jump step)

I try the door again.

No luck.

Deep breath.

I decide to venture back down into the hallway of death, which I am now convinced I once saw in “The Shining”, even though it LOOKS NOTHING LIKE THE HALLWAY IN THE SHINING. No tricycles. No twins. No creepy woodwork or wallpaper.

But in my mind I am about to go down into the valley of death.

I turn around…

Guess what I see…

Another door…

And I turn the doorknob…

…open the door…

to find myself back in the lobby of the Grolier Club…

My first thought is- “Really- they couldn’t mark that other door NO ENTRY?”

Then I grabbed my coat from the coatroom and sprinted through the lobby and out the front door.

Value v Time

I ride public transit. In order to ride, I need to pay. Though we’ve recently adopted the OMNY system, which allows us to swipe a credit card or an Apple Pay tap, until very recently we had to rely on Metrocards- fare cards that needed to be refilled at the station.

When you need to refill your Metrocard, you go to a machine, insert your card, and you’re given two options:

  1. Add Value
  2. Add Time

Add value or add time.

I had never really thought about the impact of those words until recently, when I read the book Smile The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl. The author became afflicted with Bell’s Palsy after giving birth to twins, and the book is her memoir about dealing with the effects of BP. There is a section where Ruhl talks about refilling her metrocard and facing the options of adding value or adding time…

I have always been confused by these two options, which never fail to glimmer with existential meaning: Do I prefer Value or Time? But isn’t time value? Could I not have them both? A subway car often came by while I contemplated this question: value or time, time or value… Sarah Ruhl

When I read this section, my first thought was: How have I never overthought that as I refilled my metrocard. Maybe I have to turn in my “Biggest Overthinker in the World” badge, because for twenty years, I never had an existential crisis at the machine while opting between value and time… I just always added value and scurried off to the turnstyles…

I never considered adding time- it was always value for me…

I guess I can overthink that statement for a bit…

In my life I guess I do attempt to lead a full life. I guess I would rather have five great years than ten average ones… I mean, I’d probably prefer ten great years…but what if that’s not an option?

What if it’s either/or? What if it’s value or time but not both?

I think I’m always choosing value…

What would you choose: add value or add time?

What if You Don’t Like It

A while back I had a conversation with a fellow blogger. We were discussing books and ratings and the blogger, who is also a published author, said something along the lines of:

We shouldn’t say a book isn’t good or give it a bad or low star review because the author worked really hard at writing the book, and those who have never written a book shouldn’t judge.

Here are some things I know:

  1. It is very difficult to write a book.
  2. It is even more difficult to publish a book
  3. No one wants their work criticized

Here are some other things I know:

  1. No one wants to read a bad book
  2. If I am talking about a book I am going to be honest about how I felt about it
  3. My opinion really doesn’t matter in the world of opinions
  4. If you are going to put your work out there, you have to be prepared that someone is not going to like it.

Should we be truthful when reviewing books (or anything else for that matter)?

Should we not give a book a two star review because someone worked hard on it?

How do we feel about reviews, reviewers and criticism in general?

Discuss: