Social Commentary

Maddy Zielinski

What is social commentary?

Social commentary is the act of using rhetorical means to provide commentary on issues in society. Social commentary is often done with the idea of promoting change to the people by addressing a problem and appealing to the people's sense of justice - for example books like The Hunger Games, The Giver, Animal Farm, and of course, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Social commentary can be expressed through many forms of communication from printed form to conversations.
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Why is it important?

Social commentary is important because it keeps us aware of issues that are happening today. Social commentary can be expressed in many ways, an effective yet subtle way is comedy. Whether or not we realize it is social commentary. TV shows like Saturday Night Live, use social commentary in comical skits, getting us to laugh and think critically about the jokes on today's society. Like I said, things like these really keep us aware of issues happening in our society.

Evidence of social commentary in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain uses a lot of social commentary in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. One of the biggest, most recognizable use of social commentary in this book is the use of the N word towards blacks. "It was according to the old saying, 'Give a n****r an inch and he'll take an ell.' Thinks I, this is what comes of my not thinking. Here was this n****r, which I had as good as helped to run away, coming right out flat-footed and saying he would steal his children—children that belonged to a man I didn't even know; a man that hadn't ever done me no harm." This racial slur is used 219 times throughout the whole book. I think this is a great use of social commentary because today that word is considered a bad word, so reading it in the book today really hits us hard. Although the use of the word makes the book very controversial, it gives us almost a look into the 1800's and how blacks were treated by whites. The use of that word is actually the reason the book is banned in so many places.
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Current social commentary

This graffiti artist displays social commentary through art. The various paintings on the walls show issues that are going on today. The children in the art are shown texting, becoming upset over no like, follows, or comments on Instagram, and taking selfies. This shows how kids have changed over time. Our generation is so caught up in electronics and social media, kids don't even play with toys anymore! They're getting iPhone's at the age of 8 and their childhoods are being taken over by this new technology. Childhood is nothing like it used to be, and this social commentary is effectively shown through art.

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Original Example

Below I have a little picture showing the difference in girls and guys dress coding in today's society. In society, girls wearing tank tops are frowned upon because it "reveals too much skin". But for a guy it's totally acceptable. We are given limits on showing our shoulders because these silly boys might become turned on by our exposed shoulders. Yet, once again, guys are given the freedom to cool off and show their shoulders because girls don't react to skin like guys.