Thursday, December 03, 2009

Satire And Her Sons

As one commenter noted, the cheetah story is was supposedly satire:

If you want to write an article that gets the people talking, one good way is to just start classifying women in random groups, related to age and hot sexxx. Hot sexxxy cheetah ladies cannot resist this delicious media bait!

Spencer Morgan is a very good writer for the New York Observer, and another thing about Spencer Morgan is that 100% of his articles are designed to get you mad. Usually they make you mad because he writes about men who are objectionable in one way or another. Then once in a while Spencer Morgan is like "Hey, for a change of pace I think I will play like an objectionable man, myself." This is a pose and it is how he wins, as a journalist. A mad reader is an engaged reader!

So today Spencer Morgan goes and writes a story that is clearly preposterous, on its face, inventing this new made-up term "cheetah" to describe a lady that is not as old as a "cougar" but still likes to "prey" on weak men, and fuck them, for sex, when they are drunk or otherwise vulnerable. He makes sure to say "fuck" and "pussy" a few times, right there in the story, and to quote a bunch of NYC blogger scene guys (AJ Daulerio! John Carney! Lockhart Steele!) breaking down THE GAME, and how Cheetah Women run it on men, just to underscore the very important subtext of this story, which is: "Here is a caricature of the 'Cougar' type of story, which, preposterously, is taken seriously, in the media."

That's a very odd way of defining satire. Usually satire reveals herself as such by the end of the piece, and usually satire is not about cheating the readers in a way which would make them look had. Good satire makes the writer and reader ultimately pals, both laughing at whatever the topic of the satire was.

So I think that we should call this particular approach the (teenage) Son of Satire. Though it sounds a lot more like Internet trolling (another Son of satire?), to be honest, especially the idea that one scores points by making the reader take something seriously when it is not intended that way.

Put another way, the piece fails as satire because it is not sharpened enough, not made adequately preposterous, not taken to the kind of comparison with the cougar stories which would reveal its familiar relationship to satire. That's not completely the author's fault. It has also much to do with what kind of stories are usually written about women, sex and age. Nevertheless, it is the writer's job to make the satire successful, not the reader's job. Unless one talks about one those sons of satire.