Paul Jordan did an outstanding job of analyzing the relationship between religion and popular culture in his Writing 20 paper, using the examples of Borat and Saved!. The introduction grabbed my attention right away, describing a scene from Saturday Night Live. Throughout the paper, Jordan elaborates on satire’s ability to engage the public in broad cultural discussions, specifically surrounding religion. He describes how satire provides a protective “shield” that renders authors able to express their opinions over taboo topics in an “unfiltered” manner. This blatant honesty fosters the reflection of audiences over more serious topics such as religious prejudices.
The points that Jordan made were quite shocking, yet entirely true. A large percentage of the population learns about world affairs, religion, and politics through offensive (yet comical) shows like South Park and SNL. Two years ago I watched that same SNL skit that was described in my introduction; this caused a debate in my Theory of Knowledge class in high school. As ridiculous as it may sound, satire does provoke thought/debate.
Jordan uses two examples to expand upon his thesis: Borat and Saved!. In the movie Borat, Baron Cohen plays a homophobic, racist, misogynistic anti-Semite who comes to America as a reporter from Kazakhstan. As he travels across the United States, he commits a large number of socially crude acts and makes many negative racial and religious comments. The irony in it all is that Baron Cohen is a Jew. Therefore, according to Jordan, Cohen’s use of ironic satire “should be understood not as engendering of racial and religious hatred, but as a condemnation of these prejudices.” In this way, most viewers come away from the film with a sense that the absurd nature of the film ultimately points to something greater.”Exaggerated satire,” used in the movie Saved!, is described as also provoking reflection and evaluation of religious perceptions, biases, and stereotypes. This film takes place in a conservative fundamentalist Christian school, where the characters, who are supposedly “Christian jewels” that have a “holier-than-though” attitude, are hypocrites. While a character named Hillary Faye tries to seem like a “perfect Christian,” she is actually acting snobby and condescending. These images illustrate the inconsistency between fundamentalist beliefs about “loving thy neighbor” and the manner in which they actually interact with society.
Overall, Jordan sculpted an excellent essay, using specific examples, outside sources, and personal opinions. He also adds some of his own humor or “satire, ” to the essay, which makes it easy and very interesting to read. This paper caught my eye at first glance, and I could not put it down until I had read through the whole thing. A major reason that I enjoyed this paper so much was that I had seen Borat and Saved! before, so it was intriguing to look at them from a different perspective. While watching these films I didn’t realize how much I actually “learned” from them, but after reading this paper I agree that, in these cases, comedy provokes serious thought.
This paper was very different from my MWP1, which was written with a more scholarly tone. This topic was also very relatable, whereas my literature review was more directed towards scientists educated in the invasive species field. Science writing is definitely different than descriptive/opinion based writing; I often prefer the latter, however through this writing 20 class I have learned to appreciate scientific writing more as I have become more educated on the topics.