The satire vortex, previously only considered theoretically possible, was triggered when the magazine hit newsstands this morning. Its cover depicts a summary of right-wing worries about the Obama family, including a militant Michelle Obama, Barack Obama in traditional Muslim garb, and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hanging over a burning American flag.
A satire vortex begins when the response to a piece of satire is humorless outrage of so great a magnitude that it prompts several more people to produce a piece of satire about that outraged response. If the reaction to the new satire is sufficiently humorless and outraged, it could spawn more satire exponentially, creating a cycle from which the human race may not ever emerge.
“The satire vortex is akin to a black hole,” explained Dr. Sennheimer from the Behavioral Sciences Institute. “It’s an area of intellectual mass that contains an enormous amount of satire, none of which is able to escape due to the gravity of ignorance.”
One of the first affected by the vortex was John Brand, liberal blogger and occasional contributor to the Chicagoist website.
“I thought the reaction to the [New Yorker's] cover was hilarious,” said Brand. “People said they understood the cover was satirical but that they felt the depiction was offensive and damaging. Obviously they didn’t get the satire.”
Brand quickly published a short fictional piece based on a typical “priest and rabbi walk into a bar” joke and the subsequent vitriol from the respective religious communities about their faiths being associated with binge drinking.
“It wasn’t my best work, but I thought it was pretty funny,” said Brand.
Brand’s inbox was then flooded with angry e-mails from people who said they understood his post was satirical but felt that it would make people think that getting angry about a joke is acceptable behavior.
One e-mail read, “However well-intended, your piece may have the consequence of provoking angry, humorless reactions to jokes. This could result in us losing the ability to tell jokes at all. That’s so damaging, I can’t believe you [John Brand] risked that. Shame on you!”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” said Brand. “There’s material here, but trying to parse it makes my head hurt. I need to map this out.”
Reports from all over the Internet indicate that others like Brand have begun the potentially endless cycle of satire.
“John Brand and others like him have already produced satire about the outrage to the original satire,”
said Dr. Sennheimer. ”With the new round of outrage, we will quickly advance to the stage where we will start seeing satire about the outrage to the satire about the outrage to the cover of The New Yorker.”
Brand could not be reached for further comment as he went to his local coffee shop with free Wi-Fi and does not get cell phone reception there.
Dr. Sennheimer did allow for the possibility of extrication from the vortex, but only if the news media get distracted by something else.
“Our only hope is that Fox News will once again shamelessly air comments recorded off camera,” said Dr. Sennheimer. “Or that one of the candidates’ advisors will make an offhand comment that can be blown out of proportion.”
“And it better happen soon. This could be the end of reasonable satire as we know it.”
Alas, life must have been simpler for our oh-so-earnest WWII forebears…but the current satire, in its infinite vortex, is ever delicious…much like your clever site – I like your style! It’s a little bit The Onion and a little bit onion soup. I’ll have to give some of your recipes a try in my California kitchen – having recently discovered a nearby Farmer’s Market, I am newly inspired. Best of luck in chefdom and commentary…CW
(I worked for/with your Dad at ANR and he pointed me in your blog’s direction.)