Thursday, October 28, 2010
Superfolks and the problems with good satire
OK, so one of my birthday gifts this year was a copy of Superfolks.
The good news is that I thought it was very good and worth a read...but....
Part of what a good satire should do, regardless of whatever genre it's lampooning, is effectively capture the zeitgeist, and the flavor and culture of the times. Superfolks does this really well, but that's part of the problem for a modern reader - if you have no idea who the characters in "All in the Family", "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" or the minor figures of 1970s American political scene, some of the jokes fall flat.
This strikes as me as part of the problem with modern "deconstructionism" in supercomics - while they do alright at lampooning superhero genre tropes, they rarely tie in those tropes to the times people are living in. The fiction is a reflection of the larger culture it's in, and by not getting the proper context, modern superhero satire is just a satire of a subculture, and not the larger culture that creates and shapes it. Without this element, the audience is challenged to have the correct context necessary to appreciate just how much is being satirized.