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Encyclopedia > Social commentary

Social commentary is the act of expressing an opinion on the nature of society. This is most often done with the idea of implementing or promoting change by informing the general populace about a given problem and appealing to people's sense of justice. Young people interacting within an ethnically diverse society. ...


Two examples of strong and bitter social commentary are the writings of Jonathan Swift and Martin Luther. Swift exposed and decried the appalling poverty in Ireland at the time, which was viewed as the fault of the British government. Martin abbutllign Luther remained in history as the founder of the reformation movement against practices of the Catholic Church. Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667 – October 19, 1745) was an Irish priest, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, and poet, famous for works like Gullivers Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, The Drapiers Letters, The Battle of the Books, and A Tale of a Tub. ... Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk,[1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. ... The Protestant Reformation was a movement which began in the 16th century as a series of attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church, but ended in division and the establishment of new institutions, most importantly Lutheranism, Reformed churches, and Anabaptists. ...


Writers who engage in social criticism are commonly well-educated members of the upper classes but might also come from the lower social strata, as did Charles Dickens and Will Rogers. Social commentary is not limited to printed forms, as it is commonly practiced through all forms of communication, from conversations to computerised communication. Dickens redirects here. ... Will Rogers. ...

Contents

Forms of social commentary

This list is far from exhaustive. Examples of social commentary may be found in any form of communication. Artistic works of all mediums are often defined by what they say about society. Despite being wordless, the memorable image of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 may be considered one of the most profound commentaries of the power of the individual. The Unknown Rebel - This famous photo, taken by photographer Jeff Widener, depicts a lone protester whose actions halted a column of advancing tanks until he was pulled into the crowd. ...


Direct publication

Most famous social commentators have their comments in written form. Such works range from that of religious writers (Martin Luther's treatises), philosophers (Plato's Republic) and politicians (Hitler's Mein Kampf). Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 – February 18, 1546) was a German monk,[1] priest, professor, theologian, and church reformer. ... The Republic is an influential dialogue by Plato, written in the first half of the 4th century BC. This Socratic dialogue mainly is about political philosophy and ethics. ... Hitler redirects here. ... Cover of Mein Kampf (First Edition) Mein Kampf (English translation: My Struggle, My Battle or My Fight) is the signature work of Adolf Hitler, combining elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitlers political ideology of Nazism. ...


Public speaking

Most public speaking constitutes social commentary of some form. Many sermons will describe the ills of society and offer religious solutions. Many politicians may speak in a similar fashion - in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar one can see Mark Antony's funeral speech as a commentary. The larger audience offered by radio and television has diminished the significance of public speaking as a means of social commentary. Public speaking is speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners. ... A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. ... The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare probably written in 1599. ... Bust of Mark Antony Marcus Antonius (Latin: M·ANTONIVS·M·F·M·N[1]) ( 83 BC–August 1, 30 BC), known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. ...


Fiction

Allegorical fictional works such as Animal Farm and clearly contain a social commentary and one can find some degree of social commentary in almost any novel. To Kill a Mockingbird can be interpreted as a commentary on racial issues, especially given the date of its publication (1960). Social commentaries have been searched for even in fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings, though such connections are often require much conjecture. Another social comedy of our time is the popular show South Park. Once you get past a lot of the nonsense there are fair and just comments on events of all nature. The Three Graces, here in a painting by Sandro Botticelli, were the goddesses of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility in Greek mythology. ... Animal Farm is a satirical novella (which can also be understood as a modern fable or allegory) by George Orwell, ostensibly about a group of animals who oust the humans from the farm on which they live. ... To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1960 novel by Harper Lee, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... Fantasy is a genre of art that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. ... The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English academic J. R. R. Tolkien. ...


Music

In music, social commentary has been a common theme amongst industrial, punk rock or rock bands with strong political themes. For example, Crass's albums contain several. Also, the Punk Rock band Bad Religion are largely famous for their songs of social commentary e.g. Punk Rock Song, and Modern Man. Finally, Switchfoot has often been called a thinking man's band because of their socially aware lyrics. Music is a form of art that involves organized and audible sounds and silence. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... Rock is a form of popular music from the mid 20th century which typically features a vocal melody (often with vocal harmony) that is supported by accompaniment of electric guitars, a bass guitar, and drums, often with a strong back beat. ... For information about the anarchist writer see Chris Crass Crass was an influential English anarchist punk rock band. ... Punk rock is an anti-establishment music movement beginning around 1976 (although precursors can be found several years earlier), exemplified and popularised by The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. ... Bad is a hardcore punk/punk rock band that was originally formed in Southern California in 1980 by Jay Bentley (bass), Greg Graffin (vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitars) and Jay Ziskrout (drums). ... Switchfoot is an alternative rock band from San Diego, California, United States, known for its spiritually evocative and socially aware lyricism. ...


Radio, television and film

Fictional works in these mediums have a similar scope to that of their literary counterparts and documentaries to the non-fiction works described above. Television and films often use powerful images to enhance their message, for example, Michael Moore's films utilise this to great effect in promoting his political beliefs. And to a lesser degree, the prominant Italian exploitation film, Cannibal Holocaust uses graphic violence, shocking imagery, and underlying topics in anthropology to express Ruggero Deodato's distaste for modern society - more importantly - what it has become. Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American political-activist, a film director, author, social commentator, and political humorist. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a controversial exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato. ... Ruggero Deodato, born May 7, 1939 in Potenza, Italy, film director, actor, screen writer. ...


Monologists

An early radio monologist was Will Rogers, with sharp (yet good humored) observations upon society (1922- 1935). Current monlogists include: Will Rogers. ...

Jay Leno (born James Douglas Muir-Leno April 28, 1950) is an American comedian who is best known as the current host of NBC televisions long-running variety and talk program The Tonight Show. ... Garrison Keillor (born Gary Edward Keillor on August 7, 1942) is an American author, humorist, columnist, musician, satirist, and radio personality. ...

Discussion shows

There are a number of discussion shows that do not have a call in segments, but which sometimes have discussions (beyond mere interviews) with personages of current interest. Some such shows include:

David Michael Letterman (born April 12, 1947) is an American television personality, late night talk show host, comedian, television producer, Indy Racing League car owner (Rahal Letterman Racing) and philanthropist. ... Oprah Winfrey, (born January 29, 1954) is a multiple-Emmy Award winning host of The Oprah Winfrey Show, the highest rated talk show in television history. ...

Talk shows (call in)

In the late 20th century throgh the present, radio and television phone-in shows allow limited discussion and sometimes debate on such issues, although if involving politics or issues exploited for political purposes the discussion is often directed by the "moderator" toward a specific point of view, typically by terminating non-conforming phone calls.


In more balanced forums it is common that a panel of well-known social commentators or experts on aspectc of a topic will respond to comments from listeners after an introductory interactice discussion directed by the moderator, with only the obstreperous or extreme caller sumarrily terminated.


Newspapers and comic books

What is probably the most common social commentary is that of the editorial section of newspapers, where columnists give their opinion on current affairs. The letters section of papers allows a similar platform for members of the public. Editorial cartoons, such as those in The New Yorker, perform a social commentary, often with a humorous slant. An editorial is a statement or article by a news organization (generally a newspaper) that expresses an opinion rather than attempting to simply report news, as the latter should ideally be done without bias. ... This early political cartoon by Ben Franklin was originally written for the French and Indian War, but was later recycled during the Revolutionary War An editorial cartoon, also known as a political cartoon, is an illustration or comic strip containing a political or social message. ... The New Yorker is an American magazine that publishes reportage, criticism, essays, cartoons, poetry and fiction. ...


The conventional comic section is more limited, but sometimes with social commentary, often subtle and oblique, or more bold, abrasive, and consistantly pointed as in, Boondocks, Bloom County, and Doonesbury or in pulp comics such as Howard the Duck. Many other even more explicitly provocative comics (usually with a far left of center point of view) appear in various free weekly newspapers such as the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the East Bay Express (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and the Village Voice (in New York City), and similarly in many other other locals, often those with a strong university or college presence. The Boondocks is a comic strip originally written and drawn by Aaron McGruder. ... Bloom County was a popular American comic strip by Berke Breathed which ran from December 8, 1980 until August 6, 1989. ... Doonesbury was featured on the cover of the Feb. ... A comic book is a magazine or book containing the art form of comics. ... Howard the Duck is a comic book fictional character created by Steve Gerber for Marvel Comics and featured in several comic book series of the same name about the misadventures of an ill-tempered humanoid duck trapped in a human dominated world. ... // The San Francisco Bay Guardian (also known as the SF Bay Guardian, Bay Guardian, the Guardian, and SFBG) is a free, alternative newspaper published weekly in San Francisco, California. ... The East Bay Express (founded 1978) is an Emeryville-based weekly newspaper serving the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. ... USGS Satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area. ... The Village Voice is a New York City-based weekly newspaper featuring investigative articles, analysis of current affairs and culture, arts reviews and events listings for New York City. ... Nickname: Big Apple, City that never Sleeps, Gotham Location in the state of New York Coordinates: Country United States State New York Boroughs The Bronx Manhattan Queens Brooklyn Staten Island Settled 1613 Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Area    - City 1,214. ...


The Internet

The web performs a similar function to the letters section described above. It is ripe with social commentary because it allows the dissemination of ideas by anyone with a computer to a potentially enormous audience, as well as instant comment and discussion. Its international scope is particularly attractive, with language the only major barrier to communication. Most blogs are social commentaries of a fashion. Discussion and debate occurs in many forums and chat rooms. WorldWideWeb was the worlds first web browser and WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) HTML editor. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... An Internet forum, also known as a message board or discussion board, is a web application that provides for online discussions, and is the modern descendant of the bulletin board systems and existing Usenet news systems that were widespread in the 1980s and 1990s. ... A chat room is an online forum where people can chat online (talk by broadcasting messages to people on the same forum in real time). ...


The internet is viewed as one of the greatest modern-time advances in terms of freedom of speech and thought; however censorship is not impossible, for example that performed by the authorities in China . Countries where the free flow of information is restricted. ...


Famous social commentators


  Results from FactBites:
 
Social commentary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (940 words)
Social commentary is the act of expressing an opinion on the nature of society.
Social commentary is not limited to printed forms, as it is commonly practiced through all forms of communication, from conversations to computerised communication.
Social commentaries have been searched for even in fantasy novels such as Lord of the Rings, though such connections are often require much conjecture.
Social Security commentary (5601 words)
Social Security was the major source of income (providing at least 50% of total income) for 65% of aged beneficiaries, and it was the only source of income for 20%.
Social Security: (2004) The non-partisan Social Security Board of Trustees in March released their latest report on the health of the system.
Social Security: The Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance Trust Funds (aka the Social Security program) released their annual report on the program, which finds that the ‘Trust Funds’ are still projected to be exhausted by 2042.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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