From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"It is an old saying, A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword: and many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrilous and bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-play or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever." --The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton
Satire is often strictly defined as a literary genre or form; although, in practice, it is also found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, ideally with the intent to bring about improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.
A very common, almost defining feature of satire is its strong vein of irony or sarcasm, but parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are all frequently used in satirical speech and writing. The essential point, however, is that "in satire, irony is militant". This "militant irony" (or sarcasm) often professes to approve (or at least accept as natural) the very things the satirist actually wishes to attack. The primary topics of literary satire have been politics, religion and sex.
Satire (from Latin satira, "medley, dish of colourful fruits") is an artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement. It is used in graphic arts and performing arts as well. Although satire is usually witty, and often very funny, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour but criticism of an event, an individual or a group in a clever manner.
Satire usually has a definite target, which may be a person or group of people, an idea or attitude, an institution or a social practice. It is found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as song lyrics. Often the target is examined by being held up for ridicule, typically in the hope of shaming it into reform. A very common, almost defining feature of satire is a strong vein of irony or sarcasm. Also, parody, burlesque, exaggeration, juxtaposition, comparison, analogy, and double entendre are devices frequently used in satirical speech and writing – but it is strictly a misuse of the word to describe as "satire" works without an ironic (or sarcastic) undercurrent of mock-approval, and an element at least of anger. Satirical writing or drama often professes to approve values that are the diametric opposite of what the satirist actually wishes to promote.
The word satire comes from Latin satura lanx and means "medley, dish of colourful fruits" - it was held by Quintilian to be a "wholly Roman phenomenon" (satura tota nostra est). This derivation properly has nothing to do with the Greek mythological figure satyr. To Quintilian, the satire was a strict literary form, but the term soon escaped from its original narrow definition. Robert Elliott wrote:
- "As soon as a noun enters the domain of metaphor, as one modern scholar has pointed out, it clamours for extension; and satura (which had had no verbal, adverbial, or adjectival forms) was immediately broadened by appropriation from the Greek word for “satyr” (satyros) and its derivatives. The odd result is that the English “satire” comes from the Latin satura; but “satirize,” “satiric,” etc., are of Greek origin. By about the 4th century AD the writer of satires came to be known as satyricus; St. Jerome, for example, was called by one of his enemies 'a satirist in prose' ('satyricus scriptor in prosa'). Subsequent orthographic modifications obscured the Latin origin of the word satire: satura becomes satyra, and in England, by the 16th century, it was written 'satyre.'"
Satire (in the modern sense of the word) is found in many artistic forms of expression, including literature, plays, commentary, and media such as song lyrics.
The term is also today applied to many works other than those which would have been considered satire by Quintilian - including, for instance, ancient Greek authors predating the first Roman satires. Public opinion in the Athenian democracy, for example, was remarkably influenced by the political satire written by such comic poets as Aristophanes for the theatre.
Satire and humour
Satirical works often contain "straight" (non-satirical) humour - usually to give some relief from what might otherwise be relentless "preaching". This has always been the case, although it is probably more marked in modern satire. On the other hand some satire has little or no humour at all. It is not "funny" - nor is it meant to be.
Humour about a particular subject (politics, religion and art for instance) is not necessarily satirical because the subject itself is often a subject of satire. Nor is humour using the great satiric tools of irony, parody, or burlesque always meant in a satirical sense.
The Satire of the Trades dates to the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC and is one of the earliest examples. To convince students, tired of studying, that their lot as scribes is useful, the text argues that their role as scribes is far superior to that of the ordinary man in the street. Some scholars like Helck think that the context is debatable- rather than satirical, the descriptions were intended to be serious.
The Papyrus Anastasi I (late 2nd millennium BC) contains the text of a satirical letter in which the writer at first praises the virtues but then mocks the meagre knowledge and achievements of the recipient of the letter.
The Greeks had no word for what later would be called "satire", although the terms cynicism and parody were used. In retrospect, the Greek playwright Aristophanes is one of the best known early satirists; his plays are known for their critical political and societal commentary, particularly for the political satire by which he criticized the powerful Cleon (as in The Knights) and for the persecution he underwent. The bawdy style of Aristophanes was adopted by Greek dramatist-comedian Menander in many of his plays, as his early play Drunkenness which contains an attack on the politician Callimedon.
The oldest form of satire still in use is the Menippean satire by Menippus of Gadara. His own writings are lost, but his admirers and imitators mix seriousness and mocking in dialogues, presenting parodies before a background of diatribe, meaning one should begin to question approved truths, in this case to form a didactic set of knowledge.
In Rome, the first to discuss satire critically was Quintilian, who invented the term to describe the writings of Lucilius. Prominent satirists from Roman antiquity include Horace and Juvenal, who were active during the early days of the Roman Empire and are the two most influential Latin satirists. Other important Roman satirists are Lucilius and Persius.
Later in the 16th century, most would believe that the term satire came from the Greek satyr; satyrs were the companions of Dionysos and central characters of the satyr plays of the theatre of ancient Greece. Its derivatives satirical and satirise are indeed Greek suffixes, but the style of the Roman satire is rather linked to the satira, or satura lanx, a "dish of fruits" resembling the colourful mockings or figuratively a "medley". Pliny reports that the 6th century BC poet Hipponax wrote satirae that were so cruel that the offended hanged themselves. The confusion with the satyr supported the understanding of satire as biting, like Juvenal, and not mild, like Horace, and this is reflected in literary criticism and method in Early Modern Europe until the 17th century.
Criticism of Roman emperors (notably by Horace on Augustus) needed to be presented in veiled ironical terms — but the term when applied to Latin works actually titled as "satires" is much wider than in the modern sense of the word, including fantastic and highly coloured humorous writing with little or no real mocking intent.
Medieval Islamic world
In medieval Arabic poetry, the genre of satirical poetry was known as hija. Satire was introduced into Arabic prose literature by the Afro-Arab author Al-Jahiz in the 9th century. While dealing with serious topics in what are now known as anthropology, sociology and psychology, he introduced a satirical approach, "based on the premise that, however serious the subject under review, it could be made more interesting and thus achieve greater effect, if only one leavened the lump of solemnity by the insertion of a few amusing anecdotes or by the throwing out of some witty or paradoxical observations. He was well aware that, in treating of new themes in his prose works, he would have to employ a vocabulary of a nature more familiar in hija, satirical poetry." (Clifford Edmund| Bosworth) For example, in one of his zoological works, he satirized the preference for longer human penis size, writing: "If the length of the penis were a sign of honor, then the mule would belong to the (honorable tribe of) Quraysh". Another satirical story based on this preference was an Arabian Nights tale called "Ali with the Large Member".
In the 10th century, the writer Tha'alibi recorded satirical poetry written by the Arabic poets As-Salami and Abu Dulaf, with As-Salami praising Abu Dulaf's wide breadth of knowledge and then mocking his ability in all these subjects, and with Abu Dulaf responding back and satirizing As-Salami in return. An example of Arabic political satire included another 10th century poet Jarir satirizing Farazdaq as "a transgressor of the Sharia" and later Arabic poets in turn using the term "Farazdaq-like" as a form of political satire.
The terms "comedy" and "satire" became synonymous after Aristotle's Poetics was translated into Arabic in the medieval Islamic world, where it was elaborated upon by Islamic philosophers and writers, such as Abu Bischr, his pupil Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes. Due to cultural differences, they disassociated comedy from Greek dramatic representation and instead identified it with Arabic poetic themes and forms, such as hija (satirical poetry). They viewed comedy as simply the "art of reprehension", and made no reference to light and cheerful events, or troubled beginnings and happy endings, associated with classical Greek comedy. After the Latin translations of the 12th century, the term "comedy" thus gained a new semantic meaning in Medieval literature.
Ubayd Zakani introduced satire in Persian literature during the 14th century. His work is noted for its satire and obscene verses, often political or bawdy, and often cited in debates involving homosexual practices. He wrote the Resaleh-ye Delgosha, as well as Akhlaq al-Ashraf ("Ethics of the Aristocracy") and the famous humorous fable Masnavi Mush-O-Gorbeh (Mouse and Cat), which was a political satire. His non-satirical serious classical verses have also been regarded as very well written, in league with the other great works of Persian literature. Between 1905 and 1911, Bibi Khatoon Astarabadi and other Iranian writers wrote notable satires.
In the Early Middle Ages, examples of satire were the songs by goliards or vagants now best known as an anthology called Carmina Burana and made famous as texts of a composition by the 20th century composer Carl Orff. Satirical poetry is believed to have been popular, although little has survived. With the advent of the High Middle Ages and the birth of modern vernacular literature in the 12th century, it began to be used again, most notably by Chaucer. The disrespectful manner was considered "Unchristian" and ignored but for the moral satire, which mocked misbehaviour in Christian terms. Examples are Livre des Manières (~1170), and in some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The epos was mocked, and even the feudal society, but there was hardly a general interest in the genre.
During Renaissance lived the two major satirists of the Medieval Europe, Giovanni Boccaccio and François Rabelais. Other examples, part of the Renaissance reawakening of Roman literary traditions, were the satires Till Eulenspiegel and Reynard the Fox were published, and also in Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (1494), Erasmus' Moriae Encomium (1509) and Thomas More's Utopia (1516).
Early modern western satire
The Elizabethan (i.e. 16th century English) writers thought of satire as related to the notoriously rude, coarse and sharp satyr play. Elizabethan "satire" (typically in pamphlet form) therefore contains more straight forward abuse than subtle irony. The French Huguenot Isaac Casaubon pointed out in 1605 that satire in the Roman fashion was something altogether more civilised. 17th century English satire once again aimed at the "amendment of vices" (Dryden).
Direct social commentary via satire returned with a vengeance in the 16th century, when farcical texts such as the works of François Rabelais tackled more serious issues (and incurred the wrath of the crown as a result). In the Age of Enlightenment, an intellectual movement in the 17th and 18th century advocating rationality, began the breakthrough of English satire, largely due to the creation of Tory and Whig groups and the necessity to convey the true meaning of criticism, especially true for Daniel Defoe (The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters), Jonathan Swift, John Dryden and Alexander Pope. Here, astute and biting satire of institutions and individuals became a popular weapon. Although Early Modern satire was already an established genre, Isaac Casaubon discovered and published Quintilian's writing and presented the original meaning of the term (satira, not satyr), and the sense of wittiness (reflecting the "dishfull of fruits") became more important again.
Jonathan Swift was one of the greatest of Anglo-Irish satirists, and one of the first to practise modern journalistic satire. For instance, his A Modest Proposal suggests that poor Irish parents be encouraged to sell their own children as food. In his book Gulliver's Travels he writes about the flaws in human society in general and English society in particular. Swift creates a moral fiction, a world in which parents do not have their most obvious responsibility, which is to protect their children from harm. Similarly, Defoe presents a world in which freedom of religion is reduced to the freedom to conform. Swift's purpose is of course to attack indifference to the plight of the desperately poor, and Defoe's to advocate freedom of conscience.
John Dryden also wrote an influential essay on satire that helped fix its definition in the literary world.
Ebenezer Cooke, author of "The Sot-Weed Factor," was among the first to bring satire to the British colonies; Benjamin Franklin and others followed, using satire to shape an emerging nation's culture through shaping its sense of the ridiculous.
Mark Twain was a great American satirist: his novel Huckleberry Finn is set in the antebellum South, where the moral values Twain wishes to promote are completely turned on their heads. His hero, Huck, is a rather simple but good-hearted lad who is ashamed of the "sinful temptation" that leads him to help a runaway slave. In fact his conscience – warped by the distorted moral world he has grown up in, often bothers him most when he is at his best. Ironically, he is prepared to do good, believing it to be wrong.
Twain's younger contemporary Ambrose Bierce gained notoriety as a cynic, pessimist and black humorist with his dark, bitterly ironic stories, many set during the American Civil War, which satirized the limitations of human perception and reason. Bierce's most famous work of satire is probably The Devil's Dictionary, in which the definitions mock cant, hypocrisy and received wisdom.
Satire in Victorian England
Novelists such as Charles Dickens often used passages of satiric writing in their treatment of social issues. Several satiric papers competed for the public's attention in the Victorian era and Edwardian period, such as Punch and Fun.
Perhaps the most enduring examples of Victorian satire, however, are to be found in the Savoy Operas of W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. In fact, in The Yeomen of the Guard, a jester is given lines that paint a very neat picture of the method and purpose of the satirist, and might almost be taken as a statement of Gilbert's own intent:
- "I can set a braggart quailing with a quip,
- The upstart I can wither with a whim;
- He may wear a merry laugh upon his lip,
- But his laughter has an echo that is grim!"
20th century satire
In the 20th century, satire was used by authors such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to make serious and even frightening commentaries on the dangers of the sweeping social changes taking place throughout Europe and United States. The film The Great Dictator (1940) by Charlie Chaplin is a satire on Adolf Hitler. Many social critics of the time, such as Dorothy Parker and H. L. Mencken, used satire as their main weapon, and Mencken in particular is noted for having said that "one horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms" in the persuasion of the public to accept a criticism. Joseph Heller's most famous work, Catch-22, satirizes bureaucracy and the military, and is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. Novelist Sinclair Lewis was known for his satirical stories such as Babbitt, Main Street, and It Can't Happen Here. His books often explored and satirized contemporary American values.
The film Dr. Strangelove from 1964 was a popular satire on the Cold War. A more humorous brand of satire enjoyed a renaissance in the UK in the early 1960s with the Satire Boom, led by such luminaries as Peter Cook, John Cleese, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, David Frost, Eleanor Bron and Dudley Moore and the television programme That Was The Week That Was.
Contemporary popular usage often uses the term "satire" in a very imprecise manner. While satire often uses caricature and parody, by no means are all uses of these or other humorous devices, satiric. Refer to the careful definition of satire that heads this article.
Stephen Colbert’s television programme The Colbert Report is instructive in the methods of contemporary American satire. Colbert's character is an opinionated and self-righteous commentator who, in his TV interviews, interrupts people, points and wags his finger at them, and "unwittingly" uses a number of logical fallacies. In doing so, he demonstrates the principle of modern American political satire: the ridicule of the actions of politicians and other public figures by taking all their statements and purported beliefs to their furthest (supposedly) logical conclusion, thus revealing their perceived hypocrisy. Other political satire includes various political causes in the past, including the relatively successful Polish Beer-Lovers' Party and the joke political candidates Molly the Dog and Brian Miner.
In the United Kingdom, the literary genre of Satire also began to grow at the height of World War II and the years of the mysterious Cold War. George Orwell's Animal Farm marked the beginning of a political satire, with talking animals who plot to rule the world. Upon defeating Farmer Jones, the break out into an era of totalitarianism. Despite having little humour, this work is highly regarded by libraries. One of the most popular satirists in the history of British literature is the recently knighted Sir Terry Pratchett, whose internationally best-selling Discworld series has sold more than 55,000,000 copies.
Cartoonists often use satire as well as straight humour. Al Capp's satirical comic strip Li'l Abner was censored in September 1947. The controversy, as reported in Time, centred around Capp's portrayal of the US Senate. Said Edward Leech of Scripps-Howard, "We don't think it is good editing or sound citizenship to picture the Senate as an assemblage of freaks and crooks... boobs and undesirables." Walt Kelly's Pogo was likewise censored in 1952 over his overt satire of Senator Joe McCarthy, caricatured in his comic strip as "Simple J. Malarky". Garry Trudeau, whose comic strip Doonesbury has charted and recorded many American follies for the last generation, deals with story lines such as Vietnam (and now, Iraq), dumbed-down education, and over-eating at "McFriendly's". Trudeau exemplifies humour mixed with criticism. Recently, one of his gay characters lamented that because he was not legally married to his partner, he was deprived of the "exquisite agony" of experiencing a nasty and painful divorce like heterosexuals. This, of course, satirized the claim that gay unions would denigrate the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Doonesbury also presents an example of how satire can cause social change. The comic strip satirized a Florida county that had a law requiring minorities to have a passcard in the area; the law was soon repealed with an act nicknamed the Doonesbury Act.
Like some literary predecessors, many recent television "satires" contain strong elements of parody and caricature; for instance the popular animated series The Simpsons and South Park, both parody modern family and social life by taking their assumptions to the extreme; both have led to the creation of similar series. As well as the purely humorous effect of this sort of thing, they often strongly criticise various phenomena in politics, economic life, religion and many other aspects of society, and thus qualify as "satirical". Due to their animated nature, these shows can easily use images of public figures and generally have greater freedom to do so than conventional shows using live actors.
Fake news is also a very popular form of contemporary satire, a trend led in print by The Onion and carried on by the Humor Times, and online in myriad internet sites like The Giant Napkin, Unconfirmed Sources and, of course, The Onion's website. Other satires are on the list of satirists and satires.
Misconception of satire
Because satire often combines anger and humour it can be profoundly disturbing - because it is essentially ironic or sarcastic, it is often misunderstood. In an interview with Wikinews, Sean Mills, President of The Onion, said angry letters about their news parody always carried the same message. "It’s whatever affects that person," said Mills. "So it’s like, 'I love it when you make a joke about murder or rape, but if you talk about cancer, well my brother has cancer and that’s not funny to me.' Or someone else can say, 'Cancer’s hilarious, but don’t talk about rape because my cousin got raped.' I'm using extreme examples, but whatever it is, if it affects somebody personally, they tend to be more sensitive about it."
Common uncomprehending responses to satire include revulsion (accusations of poor taste, or that it's "just not funny" for instance), to the idea that the satirist actually does support the ideas, policies, or people he is attacking. For instance, at the time of its publication, many people misunderstood Swift’s purpose in "A Modest Proposal" – assuming it to be a serious recommendation of economically-motivated cannibalism. Again, some critics of Mark Twain see Huckleberry Finn as racist and offensive, missing the point that its author clearly intended it to be satire (racism being in fact only one of a number of Mark Twain's known pet peeves attacked in Huckleberry Finn). This same misconception was suffered by the main character of the 1960s British television comedy satire Till Death Us Do Part. The character of Alf Garnett (played by Warren Mitchell), was created to poke fun at the kind of narrow-minded, racist, little-Englander that Garnett represented. Instead, his character became a sort of anti-hero to people who actually agreed with his views.
Satire under fire
Because satire is stealthy criticism, it frequently escapes censorship. Periodically, however, it runs into serious opposition.
In 1599, the Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift and the Bishop of London George Abbot, whose offices had the function of licensing books for publication in England, issued a decree banning verse satire. The decree ordered the burning of certain volumes of satire by John Marston, Thomas Middleton, Joseph Hall, and others; it also required histories and plays to be specially approved by a member of the Queen's Privy Council, and it prohibited the future printing of satire in verse. The motives for the ban are obscure, particularly since some of the books banned had been licensed by the same authorities less than a year earlier. Various scholars have argued that the target was obscenity, libel, or sedition. It seems likely that lingering anxiety about the Martin Marprelate controversy, in which the bishops themselves had employed satirists, played a role; both Thomas Nashe and Gabriel Harvey, two of the key figures in that controversy, suffered a complete ban on all their works. In the event, though, the ban was little enforced, even by the licensing authority itself.
In Italy the media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi attacked RAI Television's satirical series, Raiot, Daniele Luttazzi's Satyricon, Enzo Biagi, Michele Santoro's Sciuscià, even a special Blob series on Berlusconi himself, by arguing that they were vulgar and full of disrespect to the government. He claimed that he would sue the RAI for 21,000,000 Euros if the show went on. RAI stopped the show. Sabina Guzzanti, creator of the show, went to court to proceed with the show and won the case. However, the show never went on air again.
In 2001 the British television network Channel 4 aired a special edition of the spoof current affairs series Brass Eye, which was intended to mock and satirize the fascination of modern journalism with child molesters and paedophiles. The TV network received an enormous number of complaints from members of the public, who were outraged that the show would mock a subject considered by many to be too "serious" to be the subject of humour.
In 2005, the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy caused global protests by offended Muslims and violent attacks with many fatalities in the Near East. It was not the first case of Muslim protests against criticism in the form of satire, but the Western world was surprised by the hostility of the reaction: Any country's flag in which a newspaper chose to publish the parodies was being burnt in a Near East country, then embassies were attacked, killing 139 people in mainly four countries (see article); politicians throughout Europe agreed that satire was an aspect of the freedom of speech, and therefore to be a protected means of dialogue. Iran threatened to start an International Holocaust Cartoon Competition, which was immediately responded to by Jews with a Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoons Contest.
In 2006 British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen released Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan a "mockumentary" that satirized everyone, from high society to frat boys. Criticism of the film was heavy, from claims of antisemitism (despite the fact Cohen is Jewish), to the massive boycott of the film by the Kazakh government; the film itself had been a reaction to a longer quarrel between the government and the comedian.
In 2008, the cover of the New Yorker magazine was denounced as "tasteless" by Democratic party candidate Barack Obama's campaign workers. The editor David Remnick explained that the controversial illustration by Barry Blitt on the July cover was meant to be satire, and mocked the right wing's perception of the formidable couple. They were portrayed burning the flag in the fireplace of the Oval Office, with a portrait of Osama Bin Laden over their mantle, performing a fist bump. Obama wears a turban; his wife Michelle, sporting a full Afro, wears combat boots and camouflage, with a Kalashnikov assault rifle slung over her shoulder. Many people did not get the joke, and the image was quickly circulated around the world.
Satire is occasionally prophetic: the jokes precede actual events. Among the eminent examples are:
- the 1784 presageing of modern Daylight saving time, later actually proposed in 1907. While an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin anonymously published a letter in 1784 suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by arising earlier to use morning sunlight.
- In the 1920s an English cartoonist imagined a very laughable thing for that time: a hotel for cars. He drew a multi-story car park.
- The second episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, which debuted in 1969, featured a skit entitled "The Mouse Problem" which depicted a cultural phenomenon eerily similar to modern Furry Fandom (which did not become widespread until the 1980s, over a decade after the skit was first aired)
Satire in the visual arts
- The Pope Ass (1523) by Lucas Cranach the Elder
- The Blind Leading the Blind (1568), an oil painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise by anonymous caricature of the Cardinal Armand de Rohan-Soubise (1717-1757); this engraving is a good example of satirotica
Notable examples of satire
- Ovid The Art of Love
- Juvenal (c. A.D. 55-140) - 16 Satires
- Petronius (c. A.D. 55-140) - Satirae
- Nigel of Canterbury - Speculum Stultorum (Mirror for Fools), 12th c. satire of monks and universities
- De Nugis Curialibus (The Courtiers' Jests), 12th c. satire of life at court in England
- Jonathan Swift - A Tale of a Tub, Gulliver's Travels and A Modest Proposal.
- Alexander Pope - Rape of the Lock
- Voltaire - Candide, satirizing optimism
- George Orwell - Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopia, a form of literature which also commonly has satire.
- Anatole France - Penguin Island, a utopia
- Aldous Huxley - Brave New World, a dystopia
- Mark Twain - Later works, notably The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg
- Flannery O'Connor - Wise Blood, satirizing contemporary religious attitudes
- Thomas Nast - Political cartoons against Boss Tweed
- Stanley Kubrick - Movies Doctor Strangelove and A Clockwork Orange.
- Robert Clark Young - controversial novel, One of the Guys
- Dario Fo - Accidental Death of an Anarchist
- le Canard Enchaîné publishes satirical cartoons and columns along with well-researched information on French political or economic life.
- Private Eye publishes satirical cartoons and columns along with well-researched information on British political or economic life.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. - Cat's Cradle is a political satire, adopting a sci-fi motif.
- Chuck Palahniuk - Fight Club, a satire of masculinity, consumerism, and nihilism.
- Paul Fericano - Sinatra, Sinatra
- The Onion and The Daily Show, satires of the American news media
- The Landover Baptist Church - Internet parody of Christian fundamentalism
- Don DeLillo - White Noise, satire of consumerism and modern society
- Witold Gombrowicz - Ferdydurke, satire of modern society
- Father of the Pride, an animated satire which criticises many different aspects of society in its one season.
- Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism. (See in particular the discussion of the 4 "myths").