Friday, April 3, 2009

Is Satire that Hard to Grasp?

Last week I posted TC Luoma's 12 Manliness Guidelines, a fairly tongue-in-cheek list of things men should or should not do to be manly. I didn't take it seriously, mostly because I have been reading TC for a decade now and I know when he is being serious (since it isn't that often, it stands out).

Apparently a lot of T-Nation readers (like about 95%) didn't get it. Here is the beginning of a discussion about the issue in this week's Atomic Dog article.

So let's start by stating the obvious: It's hard as shit to be funny on purpose. I've never heard of this guy, but I agree wholeheartedly with a point he makes: If a reader doesn't understand a poem, he blames himself. If the same reader doesn't get a joke, he blames the writer.

Everything I just said about comedy goes double for satire. And it goes triple for satire on the Internet, a medium that encourages readers to express strong opinions on material they may not have read from beginning to end.

Which brings me to last week's Atomic Dog column, "12 Manliness Guidelines."

You have to go to the eighth page of comments on the discussion thread before a reader drops the S bomb. And that was after TC asked, on the seventh page of the thread, if there was an English major in the house.

TC and I emailed back and forth about the column, and the readers' reaction to it, for several days before we decided it was a good time to give readers some insight into TC's creative process — how much of his material is true (as opposed to "true"), how his perspective and sense of humor have helped define the editorial mission of Testosterone Muscle, and what we hope to accomplish going forward.

TC has talked a lot about his background, his book, and the poorly understood link between poker prowess and the proximity of the cards to the dealer's breasts.

Now it's time to get into some meatier subjects.

Testosterone Muscle:
When I read your Atomic Dog last Friday, it never occurred to me that you were seriously saying real men don't drink wine or beer, or send text messages, or anything like that. I assumed you were satirizing the idea of one guy, or one group of guys, defining manliness for all other guys. But when I read the discussion thread, it looked like at least 95 percent of the posters took it seriously. Did that catch you by surprise?

TM: Sorry to break it to you, but when you look like a Viking, "impish" isn't exactly an option. Okay, truth time: How many of those items in the column actually apply to you, personally? I mean, you're a successful guy, and you never drink wine? Really? To me, it's one of the best reasons to become successful — you can afford more wine, and better wine.

TM: But he's an unattractive, unsuccessful, self-centered jerk who sleeps with Virginia Madsen! If that's not an argument for increased wine consumption, I don't know what is!

You can read the rest of the article at the site.

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