August 13, 2014
Mocking, or satire, as a way of understanding the world
Mocking is not exactly the same as imitating, but it's close. It's imitation with a little bit of goofiness added. The first time a kid makes a sound like barking dog, it's not mocking, but when it's the sound that an unusual dog barking makes, such as *boof-boof- bawooooo*, then its mocking. And it requires an understanding of the item in question, which is a dog barking.
And that's the whole point. Mocking fails if there is no prior knowledge of what should be. Kids know how a dog should bark. So, an unusual barking sound, performed by another kid, is funny.
The next level up from mocking is satire. And this is where it starts to get difficult, because it requires some more complex prior knowledge. The best example that I can think of is Mad Magazine, which I read when I was a kid. Well, mostly I looked at the pictures and had no idea what the satire was. I hadn't seen the movies, I hadn't watched the TV shows, I certainly didn't know anything about politics, or popular culture in general. But I knew what faces looked like, and if the noses were big, and the ears stuck out, it was funny to me, but the rest of it was wasted on me.
I just watched a comedian do a very sophisticated level of mocking, or satire. He was mocking the people who were mocking problems with flying. So, to laugh at his humor, you had to know not only about the problems with being on a plane, or in an airport, you had to know (second level) about what people say about being on a plane, or in an airport. I guess conceivably, I could bring it to the third level and mock his humor, but I won't. He's great. That was Louis C.K., by the way.
As we age, juvenile mocking becomes very unfunny, and a little painful to listen to. So, if you're not laughing at someone who is mocking a goofy dog bark, sorry, you're just too old. Like over 4, I'd say.
The older we get, and the more we learn, the more sophisticated our tastes become in satire. So, if you're still *LOLing* about the funny way that a particular cat walks, I understand. Forgive me if I don't join in on the merriment.
By the way, in the cartoon that I did (above) I am mocking a baseball player, who is dumb enough to bang his head with a baseball bat. If it's funny to you, it presupposes that you know what a baseball bat is, and how it is supposed to be properly used. If you didn't know that, it would simply look like someone holding an object next to his head, looking surprised.
Posted by Brad Hall