Writing Satire

26 Aug

I used to write satires.

I was the author of several plays burning with rage at our sleeping spoilt society. (Don’t bother googling for them; I wrote them under a different name, before I was the woman I am now.)

‘We live healthier wealthier lives than any time in human history, yet we’re bunkered down like it’s the Ice Age,’ my satires would say.

They objected to our materialism, but saved their greatest vitriol for the fact we didn’t even know how to enjoy it.

I don’t know if my audiences ever learnt a thing from my satires.

But I learnt two things.

Every satire has a target.

The first thing I learnt was that audience members never expected to be that target. If they found they were, they were shocked – an entirely understandable response from anyone who is perfect.

(It fascinated me that anyone would choose to identify themselves as the target. It’s not as though I named names. But they did. And paid for the privilege of doing so.)

The second thing I learnt was that offended audiences members had a simple defense mechanism, a mantra they would repeat. They didn’t always use the same words, but the gist was the same.

I was told I shouldn’t underestimate an audience; an attitude that proved difficult to adopt when audiences kept turning up, only to be surprised that I’d written a play aimed at the people who might actually attend.

‘That’s obvious’ they would say.  As if the purpose of a satire was to take them  on a journey of intellectual discovery, and at the end of the class they would understand relativity, or something else that had absolutely no relevance to their day to day lives.

But satires are not about knowledge. They’re about ethics. They’re not interested in what you know. They’re interested in what you do.

Satires aren’t classrooms. They’re trials.

And when you’re convicted of crimes against humanity there’s no point saying you didn’t know it was wrong.

Or that you did…………

I no longer write satire.

Now, I write with a gentler irony. Which kind friends might call maturity and honest ones despair.

Veronica Kaye

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One Response to “Writing Satire”

  1. Gina August 26, 2013 at 8:39 am #

    Sometimes, writing to a targeted audience may limit how much of an experience is shared, such as your observations and your ability to convey a message without prejudice. Alternatively, writing without boundaries/restrictions may initially cause disputes/disagreements, and yet it may be a segway into initiating a discourse that may go off into another tangent, more often than not, the discourse falls far from the original intended message. Be free. I’m just saying…

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