Even in the face of inflation my research is of the two-penny variety, so it’s a good thing we’re not wasting any paper here. But it’s interesting to note that Satire, easily the snarkiest form of humor, is widely regarded (along with Irony) as one of the earliest forms of literary expression. As a result, it readily beats out such disciplines as history and anthropology as a means of comprehending an earlier society’s collective values.
But there’s more! Not only is Satire a powerful way to understand contemporary or antediluvian issues, but it has also been known to have clairvoyant qualities. For example, and maybe you even remember this from 1975 when, after Gillette introduced its Twin-blade Trac-II razor, the very first episode of Saturday Night Live satirically featured a mock ad for a triple blade razor (called Triple-Trac). It took a few years, but Gillette’s Mach3 triple-blade cartridge was introduced in 1998.
Then in 2004 “The Onion” satirized the promotion of multiplying blades with its “Fuck Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades” piece…and this time it only took Gillette two years to introduce its Fusion cartridge with…five-blades.
Satire, Yesterday and Today. Speaking of which, back in ’75 one of the featured artists during the second week’s episode of SNL was (one of our favorites) Randy Newman, who sang “Sail Away” from his 1972 album of the same name. The song as you may recall, takes the form of a “pitch” being made by a slave trader to a poor, unfortunate sole in Africa and the host of that week’s show was Paul Simon, who introduced the performance by saying that he wished he’d written it himself.
Because there’s always room for a little satire, here’s another track from the same album, which Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys actually credited for briefly keeping him from sliding into further depression at the time of its release. Sound satire will do that for you.
No one likes us, I don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens
We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them
Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada’s too cold
And South America stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us
We’ll save Australia
Don’t wanna’ hurt no kangaroo
We’ll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin’ too
Boom goes London and boom Paris
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We’ll set everybody free
You’ll wear a Japanese kimono babe
And there’ll be Italian shoes for me
They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now
Let’s drop the big one now