The uses of satire : unorthodox news, cultural chaos and the interrogation of power

Harrington, Stephen (2012) The uses of satire : unorthodox news, cultural chaos and the interrogation of power. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, 13(1), pp. 38-52.

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This article focuses on the satirical Australian show The Chaser’s War on Everything, and uses it to critically assess the potential political and social ramifications of what McNair (2006) has called ‘cultural chaos’. Drawing upon and analysing several examples from this particular program, alongside interviews with its production team and qualitative audience research, this article argues that this TV show’s engagement with politicians and political issues, in a way that departs from the conventions of traditional journalism, offers a significant opportunity for the interrogation of power. The program’s use of often bizarre and unexpected comedic confrontation allows it to present a perhaps more authentic image of political agents than is often cultivated in mainstream journalism. This suggests therefore that the shift from homogeneity to heterogeneity in the news media – which McNair (2006) sees as a key feature of cultural chaos – presents a significant challenge to those who wish to retain control over what the public sees and understands about the political world, and is a development which should be viewed in positive terms.

Impact and interest:

5 citations in Scopus
2 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 48373
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Cultural Chaos, Politics, Satire, The Chaser
DOI: 10.1177/1464884911400847
ISSN: 1464-8849
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > JOURNALISM AND PROFESSIONAL WRITING (190300)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA STUDIES (200100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Past > Schools > Journalism, Media & Communication
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 SAGE Publications.
Deposited On: 01 Feb 2012 06:55
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2013 22:29

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