She Saw Your Satire!
So, recently there has been much controversy and unhappiness over Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ song, with feminist groups speaking up to condemn the act and counter-parody songs going viral on the Internet. This comes at an interesting time because I’m currently preparing my GP lesson notes on gender issues, and this will be one timely example to discuss.
Yet amongst all the comments and criticisms I came across online, one stood out because of the meta nature of its commentary. In her post entitled ‘We Saw Your Satire’, Karen Swallow Prior skilfully shows us how a puerile and burlesque act can be viewed as a mocking satire on the entertainment industry…and ultimately ourselves. Read what she says:
“A silly song certainly might go a long way toward showing how ridiculous and ludicrous that same patriarchal system is in sacrificing art in order to cater to puerile tastes, and in trafficking in the “obscene” (in the classical, not the puritanical, sense) in order to titillate. If we can see in “I Saw Your Boobs” the satire often implicit in burlesque, then we can recognize the inherent correction in its reduction of women and their works to their body parts. It is ridiculous to so trivialize—and this is the very correction satire offers if we are willing to let ourselves laugh at it first. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine.”
I also like how she references the Greeks and their notion of ‘spectacle as distraction’:
“The Greeks well understood human nature: our natural, visceral reactions to the dramatization of violence, as well as sex, can distract us from the aesthetic and ethical experience of art. For similar reasons, Aristotle, in his Poetics, rates “spectacle” as the least important element of the drama because, like “obscenity,” spectacle is a distraction. Certainly, what proves to be distracting—whether because it is “obscene” or “spectacular” and so on— is culturally determined. Bare breasts in some cultures are the norm, but in a culture in which female breasts are as fetishized as they are in this one, their exposure works “against the scene” as MacFarlane’s version of “The Emperor Has No Clothes On” demonstrates, even if supposedly in jest.”
Or perhaps all this fuss is unnecessary, for after all, “what do you expect from the creator of Family Guy?”