Deep Dive: TikTok as a Modern Form of Satire


Ella Brady, Editor

After taking a Satire class with Mr. Kelly this year, I can’t help but identify the similarities between the sources of satire we studied in class and TikTok the app.  Satire is very separate from humor in general, and is a way to bring light to issues that deserve more attention in society in a way that is entertaining and easy to absorb.  Whether that be in the form of criticism or praise, satire draws attention to all sorts of issues ranging from politics, social issues, environmental issues, and beyond.

Current forms of satire are mostly found on late-night talk shows, and cartoons such as The Simpsons or South Park.  However, as people move away from the TV screens and towards cellphone screens, apps such as TikTok could be an effective way to serve a similar purpose to those TV programs.

An example of a somewhat “lighter” topic presented in a satirical manner would be the confirmation of the existence of UFOs.  The Pentagon officially released three short videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena”.  Normally, this would be extremely shocking and breaking news, and it’s still shocking, but barely any news stations are talking about it due to the constant stream of coronavirus news and updates.  Users on social media sites such as TikTok seem to be the only ones discussing this topic.  If it wasn’t for the app, I would’ve had no idea this even happened.  There are many videos I’ve scrolled through making a joke of the situation, saying things like “when the government confirms aliens exist but no one even cares because of the coronavirus”.  This is obviously an exaggeration, but that’s exactly what satire does; it presents topics in an exaggerated/humorous way in order to make people pay attention.

This is just one example, but the creators on the app will take on much more pressing and heavier topics such as our political leaders and social injustices in a similar fashion.  Just like every source of news in today’s world, it needs to be taken with a grain of salt and can’t be trusted 100% of the time, but generally, I think this is a great way for younger people who aren’t interested in watching the news or late-night television to stay informed on a lot of important issues.

Although watching a John Oliver segment is probably much more informative than a 15-second video, it’s only appropriate that the decreasing attention spans of each generation are accompanied by a shorter form of news.