Fine Art Tuesday

Satire has a long history, probably first in the spoken word. Can you imagine Og satirizing one of his neighbors?

OK, so that attempted joke fell a bit flat with the caveman section of the audience.

Our earliest works of satire were in writing. While there is probably some on a clay tablet somewhere, the first ones I’m aware of are the work of Jonathan Swift, a writer in the 17th and 18th centuries. Swift authored both A Modest Proposal and Gulliver’s Travels, which are among the earliest written works of satire we can actually read.

In the same period, painters created satiric art. Among satiric painters was William Hogarth, who began a series of six satiric works with Marriage à-la-mode. These works led the viewer through the cycle of an upper-class marriage in England of the mid-18th century.

As new art forms emerged, satire followed. Film has had a number of great satiric works, with my favorite being Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, where he took on nearly the entire US culture. Nominally a satire of the western movie genre, Brooks’ misses no opportunity to poke fun at any and everything.

However, this Tuesday we’re really talking about music. This one just dropped out of thin air this morning.

“Weird” Al Yankovic has been putting out parody songs for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never heard this one until this morning. It strikes me as appropriate today because he’s making fun of conspiracy theorists. As a t-shirt I recently bought says, “I need new conspiracy theories, all my old ones have come true.” While we haven’t uncovered the Lizard People (yet, but I’m keeping an open mind, because it makes as much sense as everything else today), so many things that we once made fun of or refused to believe are showing up in everyday life.

Yankovic began doing parody songs (parody is a form of satire) in the 70s, and has taken on every musical genre while at the same time pointing out some of the lunacies of our society. He’s garnered a lot of positive and negative reviews of his work. He’s still at it, finding new subjects to target. I can’t wait to see what he eventually makes of the last year or so.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear there is a sale on Reynolds Wrap at one of the local supermarkets. Can’t have too much on hand for the collapse of civilization as we know it.

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