Is This A Joke?


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.

Source: Slate

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.

Source: The Mond Pages

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.

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  1. Ann Koplow

    Your blog matters, Chris. No joke.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The power of laughter to make the world a better place is the one thing I don’t joke about.

  2. Chuck Baudelaire

    Lick My Love Pump. As it were.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      When I find myself in times of trouble Nigel Tufnel comes to me, speaking words of wisdom: this one goes to eleven.

  3. Gilly Maddison

    The way things are going ion this planet, there may as well be a sign on our entire glove saying ‘poor people get out’. Who knows WHAT message the sticker in Nashville was meant to give – I like to think it was put there by a decent person who was being sarcastic to draw attention to the inequity of the situation there. And spinal tap? OMG – this scene is genius..

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I also like to think the sticker was sarcastic and was meant to draw attention to the growing income inequality, especially in that part of Nashville, but since many people have been forced out of their homes I understand the sensitivity to it.
      And I’m sure you already guessed that I included the Spinal Tap scene because many people thought Spinal Tap was a real band and didn’t realize it was a comedy. Also that scene is just hilarious.

  4. Allison

    Yikes. I’m hypersensitive to Nashville gentrification. We moved into house on a predominantly African American street a dozen years ago. I always hesitate to tell people we live in 12South because I think it has a certain douchey connotation these days, and I cannot stress enough – we live on the north end of it, and our street is mostly still original houses and neighbors.

    So, that’s just gross. I mean, it may be ironic, but with no context, people will assume it’s not. I want Nashville to stay friendly and diverse.

    Also, you can never, never go wrong with Spinal Tap.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It’s funny that I’ve lived here in Nashville all my life but I’ve never given any connotation to any particular neighborhood–except Belle Meade, of course, where the joke is that they check your passport if you’re just driving through.
      And Spinal Tap is one of those things I find myself quoting at least once every week, although it’s not always appropriate to say in a meeting, “You can’t dust for vomit.”


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