This week, The Tab published a quiz on their website entitled,’Which far-right group are you?’. Although some might interpret it as no more than light-hearted satire, LS Debate asks, is this latest post by The Tab acceptable?
Second Year English
I don’t think The Tab’s latest quiz intended to be offensive. Yes, it ends up being tasteless and pretty unfunny, but I think it is important to recognise that the quiz was trying to be ironic, even if it was unsuccessful in this aim. The quiz is certainly not a high point for The Tab, but if we acknowledge that the intentions behind the quiz were probably good, we can forgive them for a lapse in judgement.
In some instances, satire can be a good way of ridiculing bigoted world views. If carried out successfully, it can highlight the stupidity and illogicality of certain beliefs. Certain comedians such as Tim Minchin and Seth MacFarlane have made a living off of it. So I applaud The Tab for their attempt to deride these far-right groups. I admire any publication which has the guts to try and engage young people with the threat of potentially dangerous views coming from the far right.
The problem in this instance however, is that the humour of this piece is not sophisticated. It does not make you think about why far-right groups believe what they do, nor challenge those beliefs in any serious way. Instead, what we have is a quiz which you cannot be entirely sure does not support the views it is supposedly mocking. Frankly, I find it very difficult to excuse a piece which jokes about sending Muslims back to their own country, however ironic it was supposed to be. But I like to think that this quiz is simply an attempt at satire which has backfired. It certainly isn’t helped by the quiz format, which I think reduces the subject matter to something trivial.
In the quiz’s defence, some of the answers do manage to be inoffensively funny. I did enjoy clicking ‘Nigel Farage’ in response to what was the biggest problem facing Britain. Similarly, I did chuckle at the idea that Stephen Fry being the greatest person to have ever lived (his audio recordings of Harry Potter certainly make him a winner over the Queen in my book).
So let’s not be too harsh on The Tab for posting this quiz. I can see where the author was coming from in his attempt to expose the idiocy of far-right groups. The Tab have assumed that those reading it would take it with a pinch of salt. They would do well to remember however, that some issues just aren’t a laughing matter. So step it up, writers: this is lazy journalism.
Second Year English
In my opinion, satire has always been one of the greatest forms of comedy. I love it. It allows us to mock harmful views by lampooning and imitating them. Through satire, humanity has been able to subvert absurd ideas and even build an emotional resilience to atrocities. It has been used for hundreds of years to give people a voice against the wrongs of the world and will always be my favourite comedic form. In 1940, Charlie Chaplin made the film The Great Dictator, a film which allowed him to mock Hitler, Mussolini and the bigoted views and policies of fascist dictators. The Great Dictator was, and still is, a brilliant piece of satire which criticises the right wing parties of the mid-twentieth century. This is satire, while The Tab’s recent attempt at making a joke of the bigotry by right wing groups, is not.
Satirising right wing parties is funny, and is a way to mock the twisted mind of the leaders without condoning their actions. To me, releasing a quiz entitled ‘Which far right group are you?’ seems as though The Tab is condoning the actions of Nigel Farage and Nick Griffin. By creating a quiz to allow readers to compare themselves to a right wing leader, they are giving all the wrong coverage to parties we should be actively criticising. Although Griffin and Farage, the two maniacs, sorry, politicians haven’t gone as far as instating pogroms, their views are still damaging and detrimental to modern Britain. Satirising them would have made a brilliant article; The Tab could have played up the ridiculousness of these extreme groups to their advantage. However, I think they’ve ruined it by being insensitive and deliberately controversial.
Again, it’s the difference between satire and a joke of poor taste. There’s a very fine line and if it’s crossed, the results can be excruciating. Charlie Chaplin had to craft The Great Dictator carefully to ensure that this did not happen, and a student-run newspaper should not be any different with their approach. Racism and bigotry are very real concepts in the UK today, and we must fight the right wing parties who perpetuate these views. If you love this diverse country and support the ever increasing levels of tolerance and equal rights, then you too will be disgusted by The Tab’s recent stunt. Satirising the BNP and UKIP will help us criticise them, and through satire we can show the world how absurd racism, sexism and homophobia are. Giving newspaper readers an opportunity to actively compare themselves to these evil parties just condones the bigoted views.