"Satire TV": A look at how comedy creates new perspectives about politics

It's no secret that one of the most effective tools bloggers use to make their points is humor. In a political culture where bloggers often seek to undermine power and deconstruct carefully-crafted political spin, we bloggers often "get" the Colberts and Stewarts of the world far better than those who work in traditional news media.

For those who want to get a better idea of how satire can help provide alternative perspectives on politics, as well as its history on the political landscape, the book "Satire TV: Politics and Comedy in the Post-Network Era" is worth reading. The book is co-edited by Jonathan Gray, Jeffrey Jones, and Ethan Thompson, examinng a wide range of topics related to political satire in mass media by chapter authors wide range of backgrounds mostly in political communication and mass media.

Gray, Jones and Thompson believe satire plays an important role in providing informed commentary on contemporary politics:

Amid endless polling statistics, stump speeches, Groundhog Day-style news coverage, and countless political ads in every medium, it is often in the realm of satire TV that we find some of the more intelligent, complex, and provocative analyses of the political landscape, as well as some of the more refreshing and unique voices and opinions on politics.

The book delivers plenty of insights that back up their position on this issue, taking readers in a wide-ranging exploration of the subject. Readers start out with an overview of the subject by the editors, including look at the origins of politcal satire on television.

The chapters in the book examine four areas considered of note to the editors: the evolution of satire in televised political discourse post-9/11, the use of fake news to make real points, deconstruction as a means of critical analysis of issues and public figures, and the use of shock approaches to push the envelope.  Those looking for discussion of John Stewart, the Colbert Report, as well as less political programming like Saturday Night Live and Dave Chappell will find lots of discussion of these programs, as well as others like them.

The sum total is an insightful look at how satire is used to explore issues through television, but the insights of the authors can apply to other media, such as internet-mediated communication avenues, such as blogs.

Overall, it's a really good read, and as always, pretty affordable online, so go check it out.

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