Seriously, every sort of horrific bullshit is now excused and even applauded under the umbrella of satire. But satire isn't "saying whatever offensive thing you want but because you mean it as a joke, and it's thereby acceptable and free from criticism." (Ala hipster racism.)
Satire is actually...
...a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government or society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.[Emphasis mine]
It's pretty clear that satire should have a wider purpose of social criticism and it really isn't satire when it is hurting or mocking oppressed people. It's the whole "comedy should punch up, not down" rule. Satire that works is clever and engaging because it deals with really serious content, BUT makes you think about it in a new way and doesn't make vulnerable people the punchline. It's not regurgitated racism, sexism, etc. It, instead, points a finger at the the powerful and the oppressive systems.
It reminds me of an awesome Fresh Air interview with Hari Kondabolu that I caught recently. Kodabolu is a comedian (check him out, if you're unaware) who is able to make his audiences roll without playing to oppression. Definitely a student of the "punch up" philosophy. One of the things he discussed with Terry Gross was how he no longer parodies his father's accent on stage. He said,
The idea that when maybe my father says something and he walks away, the idea that people are laughing because what he said is funny to them because of how he sounds crushed me when I thought about it. And the idea that I was contributing to that, it was hard.(The full interview is available here for either listening or reading, and is equally great as this quote.)
These trolls who scream "Satire!" "It's just a joke!" try to make it seem like anyone who thinks critically about social issues is inherently a humorless robot. But about 2 minutes into listening to Kondabolu and it's obvious that one can both be hilarious AND socially conscious. (He's not the only one like this, of course, just my current example.)
As I already mentioned, balancing social criticisms with humor is at the heart of what satire actually is. So anyone who is trying to dismiss your outrage at some oppressive "joke" and throws satire in your face is not only being an apologist, but also fundamentally doesn't understand satire. Call them out on it. We've got to regain our understanding of what satire actually is. It can't continue to be used as an umbrella excuse to dismiss any criticism.
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