Fake News You Can Trust

Those of you who know me well know that I love satire. One of my fave publications is the Babylon Bee which is advertised as “Your trusted source for Christian News Satire.” Their motto is, “Fake news you can trust, delivered straight to your inbox.” I’m often found reposting their stuff on my Facebook page.

Recently, I ran across one of their articles named “Why Can’t We Return to How Peaceful the World Was Before Guns?” I didn’t repost this one because I wanted to be sensitive to feelings caused by the recent mass shootings in our country. Many people look at the Bee’s articles and actually think they’re serious, so I refrained.

Merely Satire

I was, however, intrigued by the Facebook thread that followed the satire on removing guns from the world. As the conversation took the usual twists and turns, people had to be constantly reminded that it was merely satire. Yet, as any good lampooning often does, it sparked some extremely serious dialog (not to mention a few arguments). I found the exchange of ideas to be stimulating, educational, and noteworthy.

So satire, at its best, can indeed be fake news you can trust. Unfortunately, there is satire and then there is satire. In other words, any writer of satire needs to be sensitive to the “line.” There is an invisible line that should not be crossed. It’s not always easy to see or determine. The best of satirists are the ones who are able to sense the line and are able to get their point across before they transect that demarcation. They make us laugh and they make us think. If they’re good at it, they cause us to do both simultaneously.

My attention was recently directed to an upcoming movie that is being advertised as “a satire that follows wealthy thrill-seekers taking a private jet to a five-star resort where they embark on a ‘deeply rewarding’ expedition that involves hunting down and killing designated humans.” The designated humans are apparently referred to as the “deplorables” in the movie. Sound familiar…? One character is quoted as saying, “The Hunt‘s coming up. Nothing better than going out to the Manor and slaughtering a dozen deplorables.”

Over the Line

To the production company’s credit (I think), they are pulling the ads due to the recent mass shootings in our country. From what I understand, however, they are not pulling the movie. In all fairness, I (like you), have not seen the movie. But I’m going to go out on a limb here by suggesting this sounds like a satire that’s gone a tad over the invisible line.

As much as I love satire, this one sounds like a real loser. In a time when everyone is screaming about being more sensitive to each other, about political divisions, and about coming together in unity, this release seems to be rather ill-timed.

Who knows? Maybe it will be a lot more positive than it sounds. I sure hope so. Otherwise, we’re neither laughing nor thinking.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

A Mad World No Longer

Mad Magazine and I were ushered into this world around the same time. Actually, I’m two years older than the mag, but I can’t remember a time when its dripping satire was not with me. As a kid, I was a devotee of the likes of Don Martin, Alfred E. Neuman, and the rest of the gang. Spy vs. Spy was always good, but the goofy artistry and weirdly spelled out sound effects were classic.

I haven’t read an issue of Mad for decades, but it was a staple of my teen years. The fact that I (along with many in my generation) no longer purchase it has contributed to its demise, I’m sure. Mad Magazine has announced the cessation of any new material. Apparently, it will now feature “golden oldie” stuff only.

All Was Right With the World

Even though I never read it any longer, every once in a while, I would catch myself checking around the magazine section of the local bookstore to see if it was still in publication. When I would see a new copy on the shelf, it would somehow make me feel that all was right with the world. A significant piece of my childhood still lived on. Unfortunately, it is now fading into the proverbial sunset.

It’s a bit sad to see a staple of my youth go by the wayside. It always provided me with a few laughs and gave my friends and me something inane to talk about in our adolescence—not that we actually needed any extra fuel for that. Still, it was always a go-to subject on rainy days. (I almost just wrote, “I will miss it,” but that’s not really true. I won’t miss something I haven’t read in years. I guess I’ll just miss knowing it’s around somewhere.)

I suppose the younger generation has its own satirical literature at hand. At least, I hope they do. It always seemed to me that one has to have a little goofiness in one’s life in order to maintain the proper balance (whatever that means). Mad Magazine was one of those things for me. 

Inappropriate

As it turned out, I’m probably a tad goofier than most. Mad primed my pump, but I think it also supercharged some sort of crazy gene in me. That gene (or whatever it is) has gotten me into loads of trouble over the years and is still keeping me in hot water from time to time. I’m not much of a talker, but when I do open up, it’s not all that uncommon that some Mad-like phrase spills out which is often labeled “inappropriate” by my lovely Bride.

The magazine helped form a generation or two (particularly the male of the species). It was very telling however when, recently, President Trump compared Pete Buttegieg to Alfred E. Neuman. The much younger Buttigieg had no idea what the Prez was talking about. It’s definitely the end of an era. As Al Yankovic said, “Goodbye to one of the all-time greatest American institutions.”

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]