Breaking Boundaries| Developing a Normative Approach to Political Satire: A Critical Perspective

Megan R. Hill


Over the past decade, scholars have turned their attention to the study of entertainment media and politics. Unfortunately, lacking any established criteria by which to evaluate satire, scholars’ arguments have been judged on their own merits, with no means of assessing the validity of competing claims. Consequently, a normative theory approach to the study of political satire is essential in providing a foundation from which assessments of satire can be debated and progress in the field can take place. The normative approach to political satire offered here attempts to answer the following questions: What are the ideal functions of political satire? What role(s) should political satirists play in a democracy? Taking a critical approach, this article situates satire within narrative studies, conceptualizing satire as a type of counternarrative intended to resist entrenched accounts of how the world works. Resistance is thus a constituent feature of satire and one measure of its ideal functions. This article grapples with the consequences of these functions and with the complexities of establishing a satiric ideal within a critical framework.

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