From heated debates and public speeches to controversial campaigning and questionable promise-making, American politics has never been a peaceful, predictable, or amiable aspect of our nationís history. Clear tensions and obvious antagonisms pervading the political arena have captivated the fascinations of U.S citizens for over a century. Certainly, the issue of who will run this country and the methods he intends to employ during his administration merits attention and concern on the part of all Americans. However, within the last several decades, American politics has more than ever become the object of popular humor and widespread comedy. From the traditional black and white cartoons to dramatic parodies on television, U.S. politicians have become perfect targets for entertaining satire. While poking fun at aspects of the American bureaucracy has always been present to some extent (if only in newspapers and magazines), lately, various spoofs, mockeries, and caricatures have gained heightened prevalence and popularity in our culture.
Our unit proposes to revolve around a few central questions regarding the portrayal of political figures in media satire. Primarily, how has politics evolved from a more sacred, serious, and perhaps even more dignified institution (although way before the time period we plan to cover, just think about the high decorum characterizing the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858) to one infused with levity and often comedy? Additionally, can one pinpoint a certain time at which the tone of politics changed/a specific person who or event that altered the way politicians are portrayed? Was there a politician who so warranted such mockery that the course of media satire was forever changed? Or has the progression been more gradual?
Through examining the different areas (print, television, movies and internet) in which U.S. politicians have been parodied and the intensity of this mockery as well its affect on the American public, our group hopes to gain a better perspective on and understanding of the development of political satire.