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30 November, 2016 00:00 00 AM
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Incongruity and contrast

Satire has made politics more accessible, leading to more informed viewers who have the potential to form more educated opinions and discuss those views with others
Masihul Huq Chowdhury
Incongruity and contrast

We are at the fag end of 2016 which is a year full of surprises. First came the verdict of the electorate of United Kingdom in the referendum for Brexit followed by the overwhelming mandate handed to Donald Trump along with both houses of legislature to Republicans by the voters of United States of America. Both these happened proving the major exit polls wrong. The mainstream media in USA in the pre poll projection were upbeat about a Hilary victory, with base case of 268 electoral colleges. On the other hand,  various funny predictions including that of bears in a Siberian Zoo, a monkey in China predicted a Trump win. Remember Paul, the octopus who came to limelight predicting 2010 World Cup Soccer. It was the second and possibly last attempt by Hilary Clinton for the Presidency of USA. Despite getting the highest number of popular votes she could not make it with 232 electoral colleges and the coveted position remained a distant reality for her. In the cornucopia of pro-Clinton polling that preceded the 2016 presidential election, two polls stood out as outliers: the USC/LA Times tracking poll and the Investor's Business Daily/TIPP tracking poll. "As far as I was concerned, I was anticipating a Trump win," said Raghavan Mayur, President of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducts the IBD/TIPP poll. The final poll, released on Election Day, showed Trump with two percentage point lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton.  Mayur  compared Tuesday's election to 2004, when enthusiasm among Republicans helped George W. Bush get re-elected president despite exit polls favouring then-Sen. John Kerry. He also saw "very robust enthusiasm" for Trump among independents, which canceled out the registration advantage held by Democrats. "Since Sept. 1, the number of Republicans [in the poll sample] was much higher than the number of Democrats," Mayur said. "It was a new phenomenon in the data [and] I was not sure what is happening here." 
In ancient Sankskrit Bharata Muni's drama Natya Shastra  defined humour (hāsyam) as one of the nine nava rasa  or principle emotional responses, which can be inspired in the audience by emotion or bhava  the imitations of emotions that the actors perform.  "One excellent test of the civilization of a country ... I take to be the flourishing of the Comic idea and Comedy; and the test of true Comedy is that it shall awaken thoughtful laughter." states George Meredith. Laughter is said to be the cure to being sick. Studies show that people who laugh more often get sick less. Humour is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement. The term derives from the  humour as medicine  of the ancient Greeks, which taught that the balance of fluids in the human body, known as humours (Latin: humor, "body fluid"), controlled human health and emotion.People of all ages and cultures respond to humour. Most people are able to experience humour—be amused, smile or laugh at something funny—and thus are considered to have a sense of humour. The hypothetical person lacking a sense of humour would likely find the behaviour inducing it to be inexplicable, strange, or even irrational. Though ultimately decided by personal taste, the extent to which a person finds something humorous depends on a host of variables, including geographical location, culture, maturity level of education, intelligence and context. For example, young children may favour slapstick such as Punch and Judy  puppet shows or cartoons such as Tom and Jerry, whose physical nature makes it accessible to them. By contrast, more sophisticated forms of humour such as satire require an understanding of its social meaning and context, and thus tend to appeal to the phenomena connected with laughter and that which provokes it have been carefully investigated by psychologists. They agree the predominant characteristics are incongruity or contrast in the object and shock or emotional seizure on the part of the subject. It has also been held that the feeling of superiority is an essential factor: thus Thomas Hobbes speaks of laughter as a "sudden glory". Modern investigators have paid much attention to the origin both of laughter and of smiling, as well as the development of the "play instinct" and its emotional expression. Starting from 425 BCE, Aristophanes a comic playwright and satirical author of the Ancient Greek theatre wrote 40 comedies, 11 of which survive. Aristophanes developed his type of comedy from the earlier satyr plays which were often highly obscene. Of the satyr plays the only surviving examples are by Euripides which are much later examples and not representative of the genre. In ancient Greece, comedy originated in bawdy and ribald songs or recitations apropos of phallic processions and fertility festivals or gatherings. 
In the plays of Aristophanes the whole panorama of Greek society passes before us, each phase touched with the poet's inexhaustible humor. One play is opened with a meeting of Parliament, and the whole machinery of government is presented in caricature--president, ambassadors with high-sounding titles, luxurious envoys; elsewhere a magistrate with his archers of the guard perform their functions, and the punishment of the stocks and of scourging is administered on the stage. 
The proceedings of the law courts are continually before us, and we are familiar with the ways of the smooth-tongued advocates and the insolence of lawyer-youths. A description is given of a night in the temple of Aesculapius--prototype of our modern hospital--and one scene presents the secret mysteries of the women, while other religious celebrations--bridal and funeral processions, thank-offerings and consecrations--are constantly used to fill up the scenes.
Political satire outlets have risen in popularity considerably in recent years. In fact, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” were the two most watched late night talk shows among 18- to 49-year-olds in the first quarter of 2013. “The Onion”, a well-known satirical newspaper and website with a political section, started with modest beginnings and now boasts 7.5 million viewers monthly. This meteoric rise has led scholars and laymen alike to question the impact humorous news outlets have on politics. 
One thing is clear: Satire has made politics more accessible, leading to more informed viewers who have the potential to form more educated opinions and discuss those views with others.
The pollsters with their fancy statistical models must review what went wrong with their projection machine as they came out losing in nerve shattering outcomes in both UK and USA polls. The mainstream media needs to hear and capture what is really happening on the ground rather than keeping themselves busy in studio and come up with their own hypothesis devoid of reality.

The writer, a banker by profession, has worked both in local and overseas market with various foreign and local banks in different positions

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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