Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Bilingual---in English and Sarcasm

Want to make fun of somebody without directly calling them out? Use satire.

Want to criticize the government for it’s ineffective methods and privatization? Use satire.

Want to reach a mass audience and entertain them while exposing them to your cause? Use satire.

Robocop is a modern satire on the privatization of organizations. I fell in love with the wittiness of satire when I read Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” I am extremely sarcastic in nature, so it only makes sense that the bitter form of humor found in Swift’s proposal attracted me. In “A Modest Proposal,” to combat the growing poverty in Ireland, Swift encourages poor families to sell their children as food to the rich. He makes a very good argument, noting that no longer would the children be a burden financially or resource-wise. Swift goes to on to explain different methods of cooking the children, depending on their shape, size, and age, and calculates the financial benefits for the readers. Near the end of his proposal, he does list the actual remedies for Ireland’s condition, but condemns them (completely sarcastically, of course). He gets his point across, and the absurdity of his original proposal makes readers legitimately consider the serious remedies at the end. Sarcasm is my second language, and it can sometimes get me in trouble. But if used in the proper form to comment on the state of a nation, an economy, or a certain person, it can be a useful tool in change.

Robocop also attempts to comment on the importance of retaining some sort of humanity, as Robocop desires to find any remnant of who he was before: a picture, a memory, a name.Another robot presented in the movie is ed209, an intimidating and evil robot that runs completely on animal instinct. There is a scene in the movie where ed209 becomes confused and ultimately falls to his demise by a flight of stairs. How ironic that the end of a high-tech machine would be a simple man-made creation.

This reminded me of Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds.” Aliens attack earth and it seems that there is no hope for the humans. However, what comes to be the aliens’ killer is a pathogenic bacterium, one of the simplest life forms, which they have no immunity to. Despite their advanced technology and extraterrestrial bodies, the smallest life form on the planet proves to be their biggest threat.


  1. One of my favorite parts of Robocop was the irony of ed209 falling down the stairs. Sarcasm is hilarious, but irony is so bittersweet. I hadn't thought of hte similarity to War of the Worlds though; now I want to go re-watch that one.

  2. I've never seen War of the Worlds, but thanks for the spoiler(sarcasm, in case you didn't catch it). But what is really funny is that one of my science professors actually used A Modest Proposal in an indirect way. We got into a discussion about how there is more to a human body than an animal body because humans won't just go eat their neighbors child even if they are on the verge of starving. Many people subscribe to the ideas that mankind is going downhill fast. If that is true, do you think we would ever reach the desperation of eating other humans?