Yako: This past weekend, my dearest brother-in-law sent me a link to a satirical video addressing gun violence in the United States. It’s a clever short video that clearly explains the situation in this country, how it affects communities and where the source of the trouble lies. Very fitting, it’s called ‘Nonsensical Rifle Addiction’ (or NRA). The way it is presented—using satire and implicit jokes—is perfect for a Dutch audience. Dutch humor is oftentimes subtle, indirect and filled with sarcasm.I fully support the message in the video, but I wonder how this will fall with an American audience.
The message is clear, but will it resonate because of the way it is presented? Perhaps, someone who has never been involved with gun violence might get it and appreciate the humoristic touch as the vehicle to make it accessible and digestible. But what about any victim or family members of gun violence victims? Will they think gun violence is something to make fun of? I’m not trying to be a voice here for gun violence victims, but I am honestly trying to answer this question.
Krystal, what is your take on this? I like the idea of adding a light touch to discussing complex issues. It lifts the loaded feeling that oftentimes comes with conversations around areas of conflict. But is that justified if it offends others along the way? Oh, it might be helpful if you actually see the video before you respond. Here it is:
(The intro by the host is subtitled and then the actual video is in proper American English).
The way I see this style of addressing gun violence is that it’s pretty straightforward in terms of being against gun violence. With the genre of exposure being put aside for now, I think it’s important to point out that it would be impossible to not offend someone when you are using humor to address a controversial topic. Perhaps that is a platform of satire. So let’s break it down.
The audience is specific — so if we are going to speak on the video itself, we should be clear that the primary intended audiences are those who live outside of the country that is being referred to. That to me, is interesting in itself. What reactions are expected of the intended audience? Secondly, I do have an appreciation for satire being used in serious situations because of the ways in which things tend to quickly become ineffectively debated once two or more sides take the serious angle.
The tone of the video seems to grasp the fact that gun violence is an epidemic due to the references it touches on. It doesn’t seem like the video is making a joke at the expense of victims, it seems more like the video is painting a picture of how Congress and others who support the actual NRA are shameless and unreasonable in their obsession with the use of guns. To talk about those who have lost loved ones to gun violence seems like a different topic than the one in the video.
But if we are going to make a connection between the two, I feel that there is an effectiveness to fanning the flame of controversy in order to start a conversation that differs from right and wrong. The way in which the effects of gun violence/lack of gun control is addressed in the video seems to create an ease of accessibility to the topic because it strongly suggests that the problems with gun violence are due to an irrational obsession with guns; the video proceeds to play off of that idea with several supporting examples. This is conveyed by a voice of condescension to those who support something that is not ridiculous because of its dramatic representation, but because of the fact that every issue mentioned is sadly true.
Yes, I have to agree with you here. It is sad and true. The main point I want to derive from this, is that hard-to-discuss topics, that often lead to misunderstanding and argumentative discussions, can oftentimes be made more accessible when stylizing them, using satire and theatrical tools as a representation of reality. The theatrical performance can never fully cover the complexity of the issue at hand, but it gives a platform from which a constructive discussion can start and hopefully bring people closer together.
Krystal & Yako