Adding some satire to the UD Core

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Anna Kaladish & Rob Sherron, Contributing Writers

 

Hello. This article is brought to you by the reviled Rob Sherron and the abhorred Anna Kaladish. I, Anna, wrote an intentionally stilted and moralistic article titled “Collective amnesia amongst the female UD populace” in which I suggested that one should be critical about unquestioningly adopting silly fashion trends. It was taken to be professing the damnation of all women who have ever left the kitchen or worn short sleeves. 

Sometimes these things need to be spelled out in a painfully obvious sort of way. -Screenshot from Monty Python’s  “The Flying Circus”
Sometimes these things need to be spelled out in a painfully obvious sort of way. -Screenshot from Monty Python’s “The Flying Circus”

I, Rob, wrote a self-satirical piece, “To our Catholic Great Gatsbys,” playfully mocking the divisions at UD and, in the end, relating the embarrassing story of my attempt and failure to seem more intellectual than I am. It was taken to be an indictment of anyone who did not grow up in a stereotypically Catholic-intellectual household as members of an inferior class—which would have to, in reality, include me.

This speaks to an embarrassing fact about most of the student body: Your reading comprehension seems occasionally to lapse.

Instead of recognizing a non-serious tone, students often seem to turn into little Quixotes who tilt at us-shaped windmills.

Clearly, the robust intellectual preparation afforded by our UD education has a gaping hole.

This fault lies not in the ignorant youths who gibbered incoherently over our respective pieces,  but with the guardians of this noble institution, who have taught us how to scoff, but not to laugh.

To read carefully, but to miss the whole point.

We have no long-term solution to this problem, but we do have a first step: introduce satire into the Lit Trad sequence so that these kids, apparently bred in humorless households, will be able to recognize the basic marks of a satirically toned piece. For example, we could jettison Mansfield Park, notorious for its dry, condescendingly humorless protagonist (sound familiar?) for one of her actually funny narratives.

In fact, maybe we could completely overhaul Lit Trad IV to include a healthy dose of Alexander Pope. Perhaps it doesn’t quite jibe with the sequence, but it is evidently necessary.

Or assign The Apes of God, and thus encourage everyone who came to UD solely for the Rome program to transfer, before their poisonous personalities do too much damage to the populace.

However, just introducing the hoi polloi to satire isn’t enough, because this is the primary problem: a disturbing tendency to conflate the author’s personal views with precisely the literal signification of their writing.

The fact of the matter is that the author and the page are actually distinct! One can employ radical tone without actually being a radical! Some writers just want to have fun! Better an inflammatory article than yet another inflamed couch in Old Mill.

It’s all in good fun, and the former won’t give you cancer. Related to this problem of distinguishing the author from his work, there is the tendency among the offended people to assume that anyone who seems “intolerant” agrees with absolutely everything else that is “intolerant.” Au contraire, Rob doesn’t agree with the opinion presented in my article. Shocker.

Of course, I approached Anna and said, “Anna, I think the onus is on men to not objectify women in these situations, not on the women to accommodate the men,” rather than going online and shouting, “U PRUDE!!!”

We do need to work towards greater unity in our faith and on our campus. Recognizing and dialoguing about issues is the first step. One-on-one conversation, sometimes spurred by a newspaper article, is the surest way. 

A young lady recently was exemplary in this regard. By writing a letter to the editor, she proposed we work to unify the spring and fall Romers. Mary Jones, I think you are right, and I’m willing to bridge that gap. Let’s start this Friday. Over dinner. Maybe a moonlit walk. We’ll see how it goes.

Wishing you a literate and modestly clad summer vacation! 

– Anna and Rob

24 COMMENTS

  1. Anna and Rob, thank you so very much for that article. It was a delight to read and quite possibly the best article I have read in the UD News. I literally laughed out loud. Also, I truly believe you have some great insight regarding how we can improve our already superb curriculum.

    • No one is making fun of cancer. Couches literally have flame-retardants in them that are carcinogenic. Every time you set one on fire you are literally causing cancer in your neighbors. This is not a joke. It is one of the most inane things you can do with your time, and one of Anna’s pet peeves.

    • Also, *abhorrent. If It’s abhorring, that means you are giving some kind of human agency to a joke and saying that it really really doesn’t like something.

  2. What I got out of this particular article:
    There were articles the two of you have written that people did not like. In fact, many were offended because, to them, you were insulting in one way or another. Your first response was “hey, we’re not being offensive we’re just being comical”. And yet few people think you are comical, but it is still definitely not your fault. No, the populace is wrong because you are funny, everyone else just doesn’t get it because they are uneducated and UD failed.
    Your satire in this and the preceding articles was not taken the right way at all. Maybe you didn’t mean it the way it came off. But, the fact of the matter remains, people were offended & few laughed. It is not that the community is stupid and doesn’t understand satire. I believe you failed in your goal and ruffled everyone’s feathers. Your other option was to apologize as a team, instead you played the blame game.
    Bravo.

  3. I am so sick of this narrative, but before I go all breitbart on you guys, let me just say that one thing is lacking in both articles. Quite simply it is humor. Neither article was funny. I’m entitled to my opinion. You put stuff out there for the people to read and the people have spoken. We will not be silent. You have one hour.

    • Crtitiquing either article for not being funny might be fair. Not recognizing that they were jokes in the first place isn’t; it’s this latter reaction that this article was a response to. So yes, you are entitled to that opinion, but please let’s not conflate those two very different things.

  4. Stephen Colbert writes satire. He faces the camera and seriously proclaims fundamentalist political arguments, while assuming the viewer realizes that the views he is espousing are shown to be so ridiculous that he actually holds the opposite.

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting the word, but wouldn’t an actual satire be writing an article praising the efforts of the ‘new intellectuals’ to squeeze 20 years of education into 4 and lauding the clothes choices of the fashionistas, who were freed from old fashioned modesty?

    It seemed in these two articles that the authors honestly held the views they were espousing, they just used hyperbole and humor to accentuate their arguments.

    Yes, a lot of the people took these hyperbolic statements as litteral and instead of arguing against the mild chiding of the articles, they fought tooth and claw against the perceived rampent injustice. But that’s what people are want to do when you make hyperbolic statements against their belief.

    Actual satire seems to have the opposite effect, it shows the inadequacies of your opponent’s argument in such a glaring light, that they have no choice but to laugh at themselves.

    • Totally! Neither of our pieces were *strict* satires- Anna legitimately believes that the leggings phenom is a problematic and I definitely think that people shouldn’t spend their time trying to cram in an education just to fit in.

      The above article probably wasn’t clear enough in our own views towards our own articles. This is the sentence that expresses it best: “introduce satire into the Lit Trad sequence so that these kids, apparently bred in humorless households, will be able to recognize the basic marks of a satirically toned piece.”

      So you’re absolutely right- we’re not trying to say our pieces were actual satires, but rather our joke was that we should introduce satire into the UD core so people can recognize non-serious tone. Looking at the article above, I can see that that could have been clearer, and the fact that it isn’t clearer is a valid critique.

      • Nope.
        We understand the satire.
        We don’t think its funny.
        We think you’re obnoxious.
        And no, we weren’t raised in humorless households.
        Please stop writing articles.
        Both of you.

  5. Nobody knows your background or your past so hiw should we understand your inside jokes to the editor? Why would you do this? This is honestly so offensive I can hardly breathe when I read this. This reminds me of the time that I was in Rome. Do you even know who you’re messing with?

  6. “introduce satire into the Lit Trad sequence so that these kids, apparently bred in humorless households, will be able to recognize the basic marks of a satirically toned piece.”

    I agree. I think that does summarize it best.
    I doubt that anyone missed the satire in your articles Rob, that is not why nobody laughed. Simply because the articles were satirical doesn’t mean you didn’t mean what you said. Frankly the articles came off as a little bit obnoxious and biting. Although your first article was redeemed from seeming obnoxious after your initial response to the comments when you explained that the article was an inside joke and apologized for the misunderstanding, you quickly swept your apologetic and sincere tone under the rug by assuming that the reason that nobody understood your article was because we are all illiterate baboons and were raised to shun humor.
    Cheerio

  7. tyr·an·ny 1 : oppressive power <every form of tyranny over the mind of man — Thomas Jefferson
    Funny the definition of tyranny reminds me of the Anna Kaladish and Rob Sherron war machine. We will never stop fighting your oppressive power. We will never concede our liberties in exchange for your lies. We are the PEOPLE!!! We have spoken, your reign of terror will stop dead in its tracks vs. the forces of good. Your narrative has polluted this school for too long!!!

    • I cannot speak for Ms Kaladish, but I myself have decided not to continue as a student writer after this week’s newspaper, which contains my last article. The narrative has ended, the smog should blow away.

    • Can not the PEOPLE constitute a tyranny? It seems far more oppressive for a few offended folks allegedly speaking on behalf of the “people” to demand that a university publication conform to their opinions. As a matter of fact many students and faculty enjoyed the satirically toned pieces. Are they not the PEOPLE?

  8. C’mon guys! Where’s your patriotism?! People died for this country and all you care about is satire? How many elections did George Washington win on satirical speeches? Probably none.

  9. What calumny! UD is the last place I would accuse of being “humorless.” No, the Core does not need to be updated for the sake of facilitating wider appreciation of the obnoxious “humor” of the authors. Clearly the deficiency lies with their communication skills, not UD’s academic requirements or the literacy of the student body. For if their goal was to persuade their peers through satire, they failed miserably.

    Mr. Sherron’s behavior is particularly discomforting. Certainly he was aware of the brouhaha over the first satirical mess perpetrated by Miss Kaladish, so why try a second time? Or a third? Furthermore, not only did Mr. Sherron eventually admit his original article appeared obnoxious to those with whom he was unacquainted, he even apologized for his neglect!

    But by getting one last rhetorical jab in this final article, and accusing his “humorless” peers of being illiterate, Mr. Sherron reneges on that apology. Indeed, it is now clear that persuasion was never his objective. And if not persuasion, what then? Cheerleading those with whom he already agrees? Or something worse? Certainly it is enjoyable to witness one’s opinions in print. But the currency of UD’s academic project is rational argumentation, not intellectual masturbation.

    I’m not buying any further excuses from Mr. Sherron, despite his pleas in this thread that, once again, he was misunderstood because, once again, he didn’t express himself clearly enough. This routine is getting old. Please find something else to do with your time. Your writing is not funny, it is not persuasive, and it has no place in UD’s academic discourse. Grazie mille.

  10. Anna & Rob: I think Thomas More would laugh at your articles. And I think many of our professors here would too, especially those in the English department — those trained to detect such humor. Would they just imagine this humor, laughing at something that is not there? No, I do not think so; I think they would see the humor that is there, a humor that, for some reason, many students do not seem to have much sense of.

  11. Wow, most of this thread is just embarrassing to read. Everybody should relax a bit. I’ve never met Rob, but it’s clear he likes to spar a little with words. On the one hand, yes, this new article gets condescending and imperious, and actually seems much more so than Rob’s original article. On the other hand, since the whole deal is about telling people to start recognizing hyperbole a little… do you think maybe the fact that you’ve failed to take a chill pill signifies a problem on your part? However dismissive it may feel, there’s nothing in Rob’s writing that is as undeniably nasty as there is in many of these online comments. Rob, I hope you keep writing and publishing for broad audiences, improving your skills and sensibility and view — including learning from the irrationality of online comment boards, and exactly what they do and don’t mean.

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