So, as local station WZTV reported, the sticker “poor people: get out” was stuck to a street sign on Nashville’s Charlotte Avenue. It was quickly pulled down but not before it got noticed. I’ve featured that particular area frequently here in part because I know it well but also because it’s been gentrifying rapidly. Changes in the area are threatening to push current residents and businesses out as property prices, and new apartments, go up. So was the sticker meant as social commentary, a joke? Was it meant to be thought-provoking? Or was it serious? It’s impossible to say. A couple of years ago I found a similar sticker on a dumpster in another part of town and wondered the same thing.
Satire—assuming that’s what it was meant to be–is a tricky thing because it’s almost inevitable that someone will take the idea being satirized seriously, even if you add a jk or [/sarc] tag. Look hard enough and you’ll find someone who’ll believe almost anything.
That seems like a joke until I heard about this guy planning to launch himself into space, and now I wonder if it was meant to be taken seriously.
I only know this Bloom County strip was a joke because, as I so often say, context matters.
And in 1729 there might probably was at least one English noble who read Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal and said, “Eat babies? Sounds good to me!” and had to be restrained by his servants.
The thing about satire is that sometimes to make it clear that an idea is being satirized rather than being promoted the piece has to be so completely over the top it’s obvious, and this means satire can usually get lengthy, so I’ll just cut this short.