America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
Sat-Critters: The Pathetic Lives of Satirists and Critics
2 February 2000
Now that it is clear that the American economy has mastered the boom/bust cycle forever, it seems that a little social housecleaning is in order. With prosperity at an all-time high, it seems rather treacherous of certain elements of our society continue to criticize the governance of our republic, or even engage in personal attacks on its rulers or wealthier citizens.
Their Manifest Failure
A recent Raynd Corporation study has shown that these malcontents can be easily divided into two classes: social critics and satirists. Social critics are easily identified by their salient traits. The average social critic is Ph.D. educated, but earns the lowest salary of all Ph.D.s (often less than $31,000 per annum) hardly more than the homeless Ph.D.s (less than $24,000 per annum); is childless; equally sterile in intellectual production (an average of one book and ten published articles per lifetime); and donates a notably high proportion of their meager incomes to PBS while rarely watching shows on that network. (Most watch cable television or Fox Television.)
Satirists, while equally poor, devoid of vitality and of natural hair, and equally unfit for human companionship (whether romantic, amicable or parental), are distinguished from the social critics chiefly by their bad complexions. Following a Mr. Johnathan Swift, an obscure 18th century Irishman and apparently a patron-saint of these satirists, satirists suffer from hideous boils on the faces, hands, and hindquarters that render their disposition surly and disagreeable. Because of their daily personal agony, satirists naturally seek to shift the blame for their woes upon others. Yet since they know few people personally, and are reclusive, they are forced to take aim at fictitious targets. In this, satirists seem to follow the low-salaried Mr. Swift. Our researchers discovered an obscure 18th century children’s book called Gulliver’s Travels wherein Mr. Swift seems to be making fun of little people, big people, and horses by giving them all funny names. Surely, satirists are an even lower specimen than social critics, who at least are balanced enough to focus their critiques on actual targets rather than phantoms of their own disturbed psyches.
But we include this brief sketch of the social critic and the satirist only in the interests of scholarship. Such a miniscule proportion of the population actually are social critics or satirists, and their cumulative impact on society is so negligible (their readership consists only of each other), and their combined incomes are such a laughable fraction of the GNP (speech therapy for parrots is currently a more lucrative industry than satire and social criticism combined by a three-to-one margin) that we have decided to conflate these two demographic splinter-groups into one group, whom we call sat-critters (satirists and critics).
The Sat-Critters’ Inexplicable Motives
While investigating sat-critters in their natural habitat, the researcher is usually driven by one question: why do they do it? For what motives do people engage in social criticism and satire? Certainly not for money: for no one makes enough money writing satire to pay for postage stamps, let alone make a profit. Not for love: for sat-critters are known to be a disagreeable lot, driving away even the most steadfast lovers through transparently false and pathetic expressions of their own importance. Certainly not to effect social change: for almost no one reads social criticism or satire.
It is especially disturbing to note the inordinate effort sat-critters expend to inject wittiness or obscure references in their work—humor and references that only make their work more inaccessible and unenjoyable to all but their fellow social critics, who have become equally soft vegetables through years of excessive reading with the television on.
As an example of satirists’ obscurity, consider the phrase: "Satire is lost on knaves and fools." Our researchers were unable to derive definitive conclusions as to the meaning of this utterance, but are sure that its intended audience can only be other sat-critters. Regardless of its meaning, how is such a phrase actually supposed to effect social change, the expressed intention of the sat-critters? "Knaves" is an archaic word, but the fact that satirists claim that satire is "lost" on anyone shows that it is ill-suited to be a mass-market format, and so will be of marginal social impact. Then why do they persist?
It is clear that sat-critters are a despised and disheveled lot, most of whom would have committed suicide long ago were it not for the delusions of self-importance their criticism and satire brings them. Thus, sat-critters’ labors only "benefit" themselves. Yet surely these delusions of grandeur are best nipped in the bud or uprooted. The sat-critters’ delusions are intrinsically unhealthy. For their own health and sanity, they should cease their fruitless sat-critting forthwith!
Help Is Available
In the interests of helping these downtrodden misfits, the Raynd Corporation has created the Irving J. Thalberg Fellowship for Sat-Critters. Those interested in applying for the Fellowship should click the following link I Confess I Am a Sat-Critter. Please Help Me, and write an account of where your life went astray.
In an effort to help all sat-critters nation-wide, one hundred fellowships will be awarded. Winners may be given unpaid internships at various Madison Avenue Advertising Agencies in New York City, where they will be able to channel their mad visions of society into post-ironic advertising parables, thereby helping the participating ad agencies to capture the coveted age 11-34 "alienation" demographic.
It is clear that our policy is generous, and only in the best interest of the sat-critters themselves. Our society will be improved not only by eliminating this grating voice of dissent, but also by helping these downtrodden souls to prosper within our ever-prosperous system.
Note: This is a satire. There are not really any sat-critter fellowships. Sorry.