Satire has always been one of the most powerful media for political and social comment, particularly when it comes to the media.
Chris Morris’ The Day Today and Brass Eye both lampooned the sensationalisation of news and current affairs coverage in the UK while simultaneously preying on the gullibility and egotism of minor celebrities and politicians alike. Indeed his dissection of the media’s handling of paedophilia in a 2001 Brass Eye special was ironically validated by the absurd reaction it received in its aftermath, including one British cabinet minister condemning it outright before admitting they had not even seen it.
Unfortunately Morris has moved onto other things, at least for now, and there has been no-one to pick up the torch. Indeed Ireland has been bereft of hard-hitting satire for many years now, left only with the memories of Scrap Saturday and the like.
In America there is The Daily Show, although that verges towards comical commentary over outright satire, and then there’s The Onion.
Below is a clip from their recently launched Onion News Network video channel, which publishes satirical videos regularly. This clip harkens back to Morris’ work in that it swings for the medium itself rather than the subject, and it is perfectly executed.
The escalation of the story over the space of two and a half minutes, taking something that has not been ruled out and turning it into something that is assumed to have happened in the most depraved of ways. The agonising lengths the reporter goes to to turn any little point into the most headline-grabbing outcome. The sheer desperation shown in the attempts to paint the bloodiest of pictures in order to make this story as news-worthy as possible. The loaded questions thrown at the upset parents to further this story. The online poll which is presented as part of the news itself. How it moves from a missing person case, to a potential rape case, to a definite rape case, to an abduction and brutal multiple rape case, to a vicious rape/murder case – all without any actual evidence to warrant it. It is flawless.
Making a satire show in the vein of The Day Today and Brass Eye is something yours truly has dreamed about for a long time and while it would have to be more than just a copy-cat production there is plenty of material for it in the modern world of politics and media, especially in Ireland. Of course, an ability to write great satire would be required, which is another matter altogether!
But surely someone out there has what it takes?!!!