1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Satirical writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Dec 23, 2013.

    Say you were to write a satirical news story, something in the vein of the onion, at what point does it become libel?

    Just as an example, if you wanted to do a fake interview with Obama, and you had Obama say something like "Yeah, we really need to work harder to destroy the white class," (my example is truly just a whim off the top of my head with little thought) what are the concerns with it being taken as a factual source, or some such thing?

    I want to do a satire piece involving a well-known movie director, but am not sure where the line is drawn. Does it simply have to be obviously a satire piece? With The Onion, they are at least well-known enough that people tend to know they are satire, but that may not always be the case.

    Just looking for input, thanks.
     
  2. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    I think you have nothing to worry about. There was a case involving Fox News where it was proved that they knowingly lied, and the ruling was that they had that right under free speech. I apologize for not having a link. But I think you can get away with saying almost anything, and as satire I think your chances of legal trouble are nil.
     
  3. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, courts are full of complete literary noobs who offended The President ;)

    Are you gonna sell it as real? As a real interview with this guy? Or are you gonna go over the top, with the intent to make people laugh and think about issues you present?

    Note that satirists (political) in some earlier times often had the habit of ending up in jails, work camps and with their heads on spikes... Even nowadays: it's a risky profession, and often hazardous. If you are planning to ever make a living out of satirical writing, be ready for low-to-no wages, hate mails and an occasional life threat :D ...that is, if you ever get really good at it ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
  4. aClem
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    aClem Active Member

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    There's a giant amount of satire on the web and elsewhere. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are prime examples. In my estimation, you would need to be wildly successful to even draw the notice of anyone. Outright lies and character assassination are the meat an potatoes of at least one major news network, not to mention countless radio talk show hosts and their followers.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    There is a much greater degree of leeway when your subject is a public figure, as public figures forego some (but not all) protections.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what's not being taken into account by some of the advice-givers above is that well-known comics, satirists and network talking heads can get away with a lot that joe/jane doakes can't... besides which, they have legal departments covering their nether parts, or the wherewithal to hire a good defense attorney... which your average unknown writer doesn't...

    when in doubt, consult a literary/libel attorney, not members of writing sites who claim you're safe from being sued, or worse... and yes, i include myself in the latter category!
     
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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This!^
     
  8. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    What does this actually mean? If you are asking if there is a chance a complete idiot might read your piece and think it's for real: remember that little 1938 radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds" adaptation? :)

    Should you worry about that kind of idiots? Well, of course you should. Should you fear their wrath and stop writing? It's your choice. Know the hazards of your work, but have balls to do what you know is right! A satirist without balls is a writer who doesn't know his grammar. A cook without sense of smell and taste. A quadriplegic who wants to be a construction worker. A lost case, in other words.
     

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