Joke Explained

Jarvis has argued, somewhat diplomatically, that Bradbury is free to satirize him and his work — just as long as he keeps his name out of it. “The issue was not satire but acquisition of my name [and] fooling readers of an allegedly journalistic enterprise,” he tweeted yesterday. What Jarvis misunderstands is that a satire of Jeff Jarvis inherently requires using the name of Jeff Jarvis, just as a coherent satire of Donald Trump, such as this Onion column by “Donald Trump,” requires the use Trump’s name to have any comic effect. This tradition of humor-by-impersonation-and-exaggeration stretches back centuries, to the playwrights of Ancient Greece. And the ever-present possibility that certain people might mistake a satire for reality is the very thing that makes satire funny. As Ken White, the aforementioned First Amendment lawyer, observed, “The joke is not only at the expense of Jeff Jarvis. The joke is, in part, at the expense of people who read carelessly.”

Are you happy now, Jiff Jervis?