Satire, parody and memes

Satire: the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, exaggeration or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly to criticize elements of society

Parody: an exaggerated imitation of the style of a genre

Meme: online spread captioned pictures or GIF’s, meant to be humorous or critical for people or society

Can become disinformation when misinterpreted and/or re-used as a fact

Satire in literature

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (example provided by Literary Devices)

Jonathan Swift, one of the leading satirists of his day, wrote Gulliver’s Travels  (access the full text of the book at Project Gutenberg) as a satire of human nature and especially an anti-Whig satire. Lemuel Gulliver travels to several different lands, including the famous encounter with the Lilliputians, a society of people only a few inches tall. One example of satire in the book is that some Lilliputian men wear high heels and others wear low heels. The men who wear low heels are in power and will only appoint other men to government who wear low heels. Clearly, government appointments have nothing to do with ability—this is a direct attack on the separation of Whigs and Tories in English culture.

Satire in cartoons

Satire in movies and TV-shows

  1. Downsizing (2017)
  2. The Truman Show (1998)
  3. The Simpsons
  4. The Office

An IMDB list of social satire movies: link

Additional satire resources

The Media Bias/Fact Check is a US initiative which, among other things, monitors and ranks media outlets which regularly use satire. As announced by the initiative, "these sources exclusively use humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Primarily these sources are clear that they are satire and do not attempt to deceive."


You can find many more examples at Know Your Meme, a website dedicated to documenting Internet phenomena: viral videos, image macros, catchphrases, web celebs and more. It contains a large collection of memes and videos and provoides important additional information, such as origin, history and backgorund for each item.


Parody in movies

  1. A million ways to die in the west (2014)
  2. Johnny English (2013)

An IBMD list of parody in movies: link

Reuse of memes in different contexts

China bans Winnie the Pooh film after comparisons to President Xi

See original story in The Guardian.