Political Satire and Postmodern Irony in the Age of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert


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Postmodernity is characterized by pastiche, and, according to Frederic Jameson, pastiche is a different form of imitation than parody, which is often satiric. Pastiche is “a neutral practice of mimicry, without satirical impulse, without laughter.” This generally accepted definition of one of the primary characteristics of postmodernity might explain why the traditional, corrective function of satire is now seen as ineffectual. This article examines the role of satire, particularly television satire, in contemporary political humor. Can the social and political satire of television shows such as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Simpsons really have any kind of efficacy beyond that of mere entertainment? Or does the self-referential irony that makes all of these shows so popular actually undermine social and political engagement and create a disengaged viewer who prefers outsider irreverence to thoughtful satiric critique and ironic, passive democracy to discerning, engaged politics?


American Popular Culture | Critical and Cultural Studies | Cultural History | Politics and Social Change

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