Broadly speaking, satire is any attempt to use irony, hyperbole, parody, and sometimes (though not always) in combination with humor, to expose or ridicule actions done by individuals, groups, or society. Satire is classically grouped into three forms – Horatian satire, Menippean satire, and Juvenalian satire, ranging from the very mild to the very harsh.
Satire in novels and books have great variety. In My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell gently satirizes the caricatures of his family members as they attempt to settle in on the tropical Greek island of Corfu after having emigrated from England. Whether it is the myriad of idiosyncratic objects that they bring or a comical attempt to find a house with a working toilet, the satire in this memoir is very lighthearted, putting in firmly in the ground of Horatian satire. In, A Doll’s House, Ibsen tackles the “The Woman Question” by layering the complex, but suffocatingly entrenched patriarchal Norway of the 19th century. He incisively reveals the layers of absurdity of the inferior status of woman as treated by society at large, satirizing the ideal of a perfect marriage as traditionally defined by Christian morality, placing the play firmly in the ground of Juvenalian satire.
In political cartoons, satire and exaggeration is often employed to criticise politicians, corporations, or any other person or entity in which the producer has perceived an abuse of power, and is thus usually Juvenalian. Many political cartoons is satire at its most critical and provocative.
I chose to satirize the Singaporean response to the COVID-19 spread in foreign worker dormitories and the apparent complicity of mainstream Singaporean media in extolling the government line in my political cartoon. With the increasingly strict implementation of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) act, it is no wonder that a critical evaluation review of the government is lacking. Self-censorship of the Straits Times and Channel News Asia is a systemic obstruction to free-speech and accountability – failings that, in my view, have been made painfully clear in this outbreak.