By Sean Pearson
When wielded correctly — and not used for evil — sarcasm in its purest form can be beautiful.
I could give you plenty of examples to support the above statement, but do you really think it would kill you to do a little research yourself every now and then?
According to UrbanDictionary.com, a sarcast is “one of a talented few who practices sarcasm as an art.”
Now, I’m not sure if UrbanDictionary.com is an accepted and sanctioned reference book for the English language, but it was the first thing that popped up on Google … so it must be somewhat legit.
Truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a name for someone who works in the medium of sarcasm. What I do know, however, is that sarcasm in the hands of the simple, untrained mind can be lethal.
That being said, rumor around town — as well as the rest of the free world — is that there was something of a “throwdown” on the Homer Spit on Saturday between Sarah Palin, and “a local who shall remain nameless.” While Sarah was in town filming “her Alaska,” this “local” hung a banner at the end of the Spit that read: “Worst Governor Ever.”
(Clarification: In this case, the use of the phrase “worst governor ever” is NOT an example of sarcasm. It’s not even ironic. And if you stop to factor Frank Murkowski and his jet into the whole “worst-governor-ever” equation, the whole thing just becomes remarkably depressing.)
I would consider recreating the entire discourse between Palin and the “local” for you in a series of three, two-act operas. Unfortunately, every time I hear the painfully sophomoric attempts at sarcasm lobbied by Palin, I throw up a little bit in the back of my mouth.
It’s hard to sing opera with vomit in your throat.
Thankfully, there’s a video of the exchange floating all over cyberworld. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re obviously extremely out of touch with important media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and MSNBC.
Or, you just live in Homer.
Google it. Watch it. Learn from it.
This, my friends, is an example of how someone painfully naive in the employment of sarcasm can actually do more harm than good.
Seriously, Sarah? You’re confronted with someone who is a teacher, obviously intelligent and articulate, who quite clearly considers you the worst governor ever, and the best you can come up with is high-pitched whining, overly fake enthusiasm, exaggerated gestures and eye-rolls?
I’ve seen 3-year-olds who can show more sophisticated disdain than that.
What would Tina Fey say?
Still, in the spirit of extending the proverbial olive branch — no sarcasm intended — here is yet another helpful tidbit for those of you wanting to develop a better understanding of how sarcasm operates:
According to HowStuffWorks.com, sarcasm is an example of what some researchers call “unplain” speaking; ways of speaking in which what is said differs from what is meant.
Geez, you think they could make that any plainer?
And, although sarcasm is technically not deceptive, not everyone grasps the speaker’s true intention during a “sarcastic episode.”
Isn’t that — in fact — what makes it sarcasm?
“So, how do I know when someone is being sarcastic?”
That’s an excellent question.
Sometimes, this can be very difficult to tell. I, personally, think a good practice to get into when confronted with what you think might be sarcasm is to clearly ask, “Is that sarcasm you’re using?”
This may not work in all cases.
Just ask Sarah Palin, as she works toward clearing up what the San Francisco Chronicle is already referring to as the “eye-roll seen ‘round the world.”
Well … at least as far as Russia.
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