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Social Commentary

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by

Tenille Nowak

on 11 March 2015

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Transcript of Social Commentary

Social Commentary and Novels
Social Commentary
According to the OED, "a commentary on society or social issues."

Sometimes used as an act of rebellion or to draw attention to a problem.

Main purpose is often to implement or encourage change by informing the general public about a problem, and appealing to their sense of justice.
How Does It Work?
It focuses on an issue present in society and addresses it through a particular media (often in a sarcastic or satirical manner).

An imitation of life often exaggerated and simplified.

Music, poetry, movies, literature, tv, etc. have all been used as social commentary.
Social Commentary on TV
South Park:
Often addresses "hot topic" issues concerning society at the the time in a humorous and sarcastic, yet heavy-handed way.

Gay marriage, drug abuse, Ponzi schemes, obesity, prostitution, ADD/ADHD, etc.

Pay attention to things like verbal/voice cues, body language, character interaction and reaction, and setting.

http://thepoeticsoftelevision.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/social-commentary-in-south-park/
Social Commentary in Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal
"Plot" of the story/essay was startling and offensive. His suggestions "crossed the line" of decency.

Not intended to be serious or to be taken literally, though people got very angry and offended by it.

Drew attention to the heartless and cruel attitudes demonstrated towards particular groups of the time, highlighted the desperation that many of them felt, and pointed out the shortcomings of certain political policies governing.

Pay attention to descriptions, language, tone, and audience.
Social Commentary in Music
Hunger Games as Social Commentary
Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones"
Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine"
Lady Gaga's "Born this Way"

Often political in nature, though they also address cultural, non-political issues.

Sometimes difficult to identify because it's MUSIC, so we listen to enjoy, not to "think."

Pay attention to lyrics AND instrumental aspects, as well as actions (if watching a music video).
Dystopian world.
Critiques various aspects of our culture today.
Reality TV is its primary target, but there are other, equally important, targets.
The point is to entertain and raise awareness of our culture and what it considers important.
Goals of author? Reactions of readers?
Potential topics?

Candide
as Social Commentary
Satire...
- Published in 1759 and was immediately popular.
- Known as one of the most celebrated and enduring social commentaries.
- We recognize ourselves in the characters and empathize with their concerns.
- Context of the writing still applies today though the world is vastly different.
Full transcript