Social commentary comes in all shapes and colors. Sometimes it’s to the point and sometimes it’s vague. It can be serious, or it can be comedy shielding a more serious issue. My favorite kind of social commentary is the kind that people can’t tell whether it’s extremely bigoted and ignorant or really intelligently conveying a message.
People will often use offensive language or play into stereotypes to the point that it becomes ridiculous. Often times it’s hard to tell if there’s intelligence behind it. The most we can do is laugh and hope there is. However, most people will just get defensive and not even entertain the notion that there could be intelligence behind offensive language.
I think in these moments it doesn’t even matter the intent of the artist, because it brings light to the issue at hand regardless. Most likely, their intent is to do exactly that. They probably want to rile up and get them thinking about that issue.
When you think about it, if there is intelligent intent behind the action, it’s almost the most humble expression of an artist. They do not care what the audience thinks about them as a person. It is about their art, it’s about expressing their idea.
There are certain people in the media who seem really serious about the issues they discuss, but they are so far right or left that it’s hard to take them seriously. Think about the Bill O’Reillys of the world. Is it possible these people are putting on an act? Maybe their only goal is to get people talking and the best way to do that is to be very exaggerated. Maybe he is not all that different from Stephen Colbert, who supposedly satirizes him.
There will always be people up in arms about issues, not heeding to deep messages, but they aren’t the ones who will affect change. It is the people who are humble, the people who sacrifice their ego to something bigger than themselves, who change the world. And they can be pretty hilarious in the process.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/idlyadam/2388833214/”>adam</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>