HARI In-House Blog

Political Satire: Laugh to Keep From Crying

As the Hiphop community has increased its engagement with politics, it is only natural that we should extend this relationship to the arena of comedy. These are not the ha-ha laughs and giggles. Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.  Hiphop themed satires and parodies have taken television and the Internet by storm, entertaining us while criticizing or supporting America's starring political figures.

It can seem out of context if one does not possess the interpretive framework to recognize and respond to what is really meant by what is said.  This is because the laughs often occur within narratives and discussions of bigotry, patriarchy, paternalism, social class privilege, sexism and other situations that may also be responded to with outrage and indignation.  Consequently, in conversations and narratives, this laughter often signals an indirect critique on situations where injustice and the exercise of power highlight the event under discussion. And if one were to speak out loud to the dominant culture they ether would not be heard or be misunderstood.  But we understand.

Demanding laughter at the most tense and difficult times is easily misinterpreted because it occurs as a reflex within discourse that is tragic or may have dire consequences for the speaker - who never provides an explanation for why she’s laughing. From Comedy Central to Late Night talk shows and our greatest cultural critics, hiphop and comedy have combined to push the envelope in discussing what's up in politics. Check out these videos and enjoy some of the ways the hiphop community has found to express their opinions about modern politics.