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Sunday, May 13, 2007

A new feature

Reader-Submitted Complaint: I'm mightily offended by Uriel. I'm not just offended by the things she says; I'm offended that you of all people would create such a character. This is hate speech and I am clearly a part of the oppressed minority that you are so mercilessly mocking. If I created a character to mock gay people or women, you wouldn't like it either.

Yeah, that's probably true.

But I'm more concerned by the suggestion that any of my readers would identify with Uriel to the point of feeling offended by the things she says. To be more precise, they agree with the things she says and are offended by the idea that I would think they are funny. (This is never explicitly stated on Flame of God, by the way. In theory, you could just bookmark her site and forget that I'm the creator.)

This is a new development. Until now, readers have been quick to point out that they don't actually believe the things she says -- and I know that, right? Right?

So this is new.

It is sort of like watching Saturday Night Live with someone who identifies with the Church Lady. I'm not totally sure how to react. Am I perhaps afflicted by humour impairment? Did I miss a joke?

Uriel's not as easy to write as you might think. For starters, she's not your typical Christian. I'm not totally convinced that she is Christian, anyway. She wouldn't post a picture of Jesus: all of the pictures on the site are of Uriel herself. She doesn't spend time pondering the intricacies of life like some philosopher kings I know. She does her "research" on the Internet, like Dr. Dino's followers.

Uriel's an offshoot of the people you'll see starting flame wars in the comments section of YouTube. She's great fun, but she's hard to write. I have to be in the right frame of mind. Usually, someone's hypocrisy will rile me up to the point that I get a story idea. It might be someone who wants to keep kids from being vaccinated against HPV, or it might be someone who thinks it would be GREAT to start a nuclear war because it would be a way to get Armageddon started. Uriel's on record as agreeing with these people, by the way.

She's not particularly interested in anything but making other people do what she wants: when she can't frighten them into compliance, she turns to the courts or the government and expects them to force people into it. She hates everyone who disagrees with her, and she takes great pleasure in imagining their punishment.

I'm really not sure what to say to anyone who agrees with Uriel. It seems that you'd have bigger problems than my puny little blog.


Stephen Dawe said...

I think you may actually miss the problem your reader identifies. It's not that they identify with Uriel, it's that they standardly are identified with satirical characters like Uriel.

Many who would identify with the Church Lady of SNL fame also find her funny. The reason is simple, it was a satire designed to be a little endearing (and sometimes correct) while still satirizing the foibles and misunderstandings prevalent in that group. Indeed, at some point, many people identify with the Church lady (tho it's rare).

Uriel, by your own admission, is designed to have no redeeming qualities. She is a hypocrite alone, which you essentially state. The result is that you isolate the group you are attempting to satarize. Indeed, since many people make few distinctions between the nutters you mention starting flame wars in the youtube comments sections, and the average evangelical Christian, the satire you create may gain a wider application than you intend.

It would be similar to a gay spoof that uses all the stereotypes of a gay person, while making sure none can empathize and see humanity. The result is a negative picture of homosexuals, and few will distinguish between that and an actual homosexual as few people actually know that they know and respect people who also happen to be gay.

Satire is a powerful tool (as you can see by looking at the Goebbels propaganda archives), which is why it must be used carefully.