Laugh first, ask questions second

Lacey Byrne, Yellowbrick Staff Writer

At Yellowbrick, we believe in fostering conversations between parents and amongst families. There are a lot of challenging subjects out there that are tough to tackle. If you have a teenager at home, you know firsthand how hard it can be to engage them.  And you can be certain that they are thinking about the world around them and grappling with their own ideas and opinions.

I am often reminded of how I assume teenagers aren’t as articulate as adults, or haven’t yet developed their critical thinking skills. When I have conversations with my 18-year-old nephew, or my husband’s teenage cousins, or a friend’s older child I reflect on how I once again assumed. I’ve been teaching Women’s Studies at The University of Connecticut for over 10 years as an adjunct professor. A lot of my students are 18 or 19 and as I get older, the gap between us widens. When a student explains a complex concept, or analyzes the reading assigned with great conviction and intelligence, I am reminded again of my assumptions.

As adults, we often fall into this trap of leaving young people out of discussions that are political in nature. I say, the more you can have conversations that show difference in opinion, or require analysis, or critical thinking skills at home, the better. We want our children to grow up and feel confident and thoughtful in their opinions and ideas. Let them try out their arguments and debates at home.

Using political satire can be very useful in sparking these kinds of conversations. There is a lightness to it that makes it approachable, while still bringing forth heavy topics.

Political satire is meant to be funny, ironic or sarcastic and can explain the world around us. It can spark interest in subjects or lead people towards becoming active in their community.

According to Wise Geek, really good satire attempts to move past mere comedy and instead expose absurdity in something true or a paradox.

Take for instance, this recent video spoof about Sexual Harassment reviewed by BuzzFeed writer Stephan LaConte.

 

 

Humor can be remarkably healing. In today’s world with a lot of uncertainty, stressed out families and economic strains, we could use a good laugh. Laughing releases endorphins, and decreases cortisol levels.

Why not engage in political satire at home with your teenager? You’ll get an inside look at what they’re thinking as well as create a safe space for him/her to make a good argument about what you’re watching.  If your child expresses a view that is quite opposite of yours and their reasoning makes you groan inside, listen anyway. Your kitchen or your living room is a great place to think through complex ideas and learn how to express them.

We live in a time when there are so many media outlets and opportunities for people to share their ideas, that you will have no trouble finding material to spark conversations at home. Cable networks, YouTube, Podcasts, Stand-up Comedy, all have pieces of political satire.

Here are a few shows to check out:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper

Key and Peele

The Colbert Report

What is glaringly obvious to us in compiling this list is that all of these shows are very left-leaning.  There are quite a bit of discussions online as to why there isn’t a conservative version of “The Daily Show.” Peter Weber, a writer for The Week, explores this question. He offers this quote from Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast.

My theory is that comedy inherently challenges the status quo and the right generally tires to preserve that….Comedian Frank Coniff, however, best known as “TV’s Frank” from Mysterty Science Theatre, said: “The best comedy is always on the side of the underdog, and conservatives are on the side of the powerful.” [The Daily Beast]

If you are looking for something a little more right-leaning, you should check out The Flipside with Michael Loftus.  No matter what your politics are, there are plenty of options for good satire that you can watch together, have a good laugh, then look to your child and pose “So, what do YOU think?”

– Lacey Byrne, Yellowbrick Staff Writer

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