by Dan Geddes
1 March 2000
Smoking cigarettes is a cult, a religion, a philosophy. Like most belief-systems, Smoking separates its adherents from non-adherents, leaving the faithful huddled together and zealous. Smokers believe in Smoking despite all logic and reasoning, despite all the arguments of its harm to health, finances, hygiene, stress levels, career, time. Among the faithful, a certain fatalism sets in: What does it matter? They believe they will somehow escape the ravages of ill health like other faithful believe they will cheat death via life everlasting. Just as many continue to call themselves, say, Catholics, despite an avowed skepticism toward its practices, so Smokers remain Smokers because they’ve been Smokers for years, and they know no other way.
Smoking is all about the illusion of freedom. It’s fun to smoke precisely because you’re not supposed to smoke, and if you had any sense at all you wouldn’t smoke. Just like other religions, belief in the emancipatory powers of Smoking must take place among the young; past the age of 21, most people are not shopping for a new religion. Those who are, are as likely to take up Smoking as anything else.
The illusion of freedom is most powerful among teenagers of junior high or high school age. You find some secret area in the woods, or in the island of freedom that is some smoker’s car, and there you smoke, the lit cigarette in your mouth your badge of freedom and defiance. The first 5 or 10 or 20 taste horrible, or make you ill, but this is like many adult acquired tastes, from pickles to anchovies to alcohol.
Within certain circles, Smoking is as contagious as yawning. Someone lights up a smoke, within two minutes, all are smoking cigarettes, their torches of freedom. To not be smoking when others are, and you yourself are a smoker, is not only to be left out, but also to be a mere inhaler of second-hand smoke, a passive spectator. Perhaps it is, however, subtly, a statement of abstinence, and therefore an implicit condemnation. The Smokers may think—Why isn’t he smoking?—just as some meat-eaters are uncomfortable eating with vegetarians. The very abstinence is an implicit critique.
Smokers are all the more tight-knit now, in this age of intolerance and persecution toward smokers. Smokers are an oppressed minority, first segregated into Smoking Sections, than expelled from indoors all together, now even barred from smoking in bars in California, or even outside some office buildings in uber-yuppified Montgomery County, Maryland outside Washington, DC.
The Great International Brotherhood of Smokers bonds the world smokers together. It’s a powerful belief-system to have in common, and Smokers often share a great deal of other traits. More than marijuana, Smoking is the true gateway drug, the most basic drug, the foundation of almost all later substance addictions, though many Smokers do not become so advanced, to be sure.
You can always ask a Smoker for a cigarette, and they will usually happily comply if they can (if it’s not their very last one), no matter how poor they are, even if they are homeless. The existence of Other Smokers validates their own belief-system, their own weakness. But if you ask a Smoker for a cigarette, do not explain that you usually don’t smoke, but just gotta have one now because you are drinking or something. Smokers do not want to hear this. You are then a mooch and borrower, and worst of all, an Occasional Smoker.
To be an Occasional Smoker means you are lukewarm in your faith in the Fatalism that all Smokers half-believe: that somehow it doesn’t matter whether they smoke or not, because they might get hit by a truck and die anyway, or, their grandmother smoked until she was 90, or it’s the quality of life, not the quantity of life that counts anyway.
To be an Occasional Smoker is so monstrous to the Smoker, because it shows that the Occasional Smoker has control, will-power. Such will power is an implicit critique of the Smoker, who admits to slavishly smoking one after another without even wanting to: to truly enjoying perhaps one cigarette a week out of a hundred or so. The other cigarettes they light up are minor Declarations of Independence, or little semi-colons to fill up seven minutes of time while waiting for a friend or a bus or a web page or a drink or a dinner or a happy thought. They are rewards for the beleaguered self in need of nurturing: “I worked this stupid job for eight hours, now I’ll do something for me.”
The Great Brotherhood of Smokers suffers its own schisms. Aside from the heretics, the ex-smokers and the Occasional Smokers (so much like those who go to church only on Christmas and Easter), there is the menthol/non-menthol schism. Menthols are so shockingly unlike non-menthols, that Marlboro or Camel smokers cannot fathom this other breed that smokes ground up fiberglass that makes your lungs bleed. Menthol smokers avow the coolness, freshness and crispness of their little friends, as opposed to heavy buffalo taste of the non-menthols.
Much of the iconography of Smoking has now been barred, so it truly has descended to the status of an oppressed religious minority. Philip Morris has been put in position of recanting, of running hip, youth-oriented advertisements stating that Smoking is “Not Cool.” Of course, this is the best advertisement for Smoking of all, precisely why people do it, because it’s not cool!
The new “anti-smoking” commercials are actually the first TV commercials the tobacco industry has been allowed to air since 1969, when cigarette commercials were banned. So the tobacco industry now is allowed to use the most powerful medium in our society to put Smoking before the public, and to say that it is not cool, which for youth again means that the fastest way to Emancipation is to smoke. Think of how crude and square a commercial that stated: “Smoking is Cool” would be in our post-ironic age. In our society, that might do more to reduce the number of smokers than to say that “Smoking is not Cool.”
Smoking is clearly a forbidden fruit, and as such it has lost little popularity among the young. Despite the attack of federal and state government upon the tobacco industry, its power and wealth continues unabated. The industry has even avoided the inconvenience of being regulated by the FDA, which would force the tobacco industry to go to the trouble of infiltrating the FDA, like the food and dairy industry has been forced to do: to put their own researchers and executives in the FDA long enough to get key products approved, and then returning the selfsame individuals back to cushy positions back at the corporation.
The Smoker’s Creed—that he may die any day anyway, so what difference does it make?—makes some sense in an age where so-called fresh air and water and vegetables are contaminated. But longevity, for those who are “fated” to die of an accident, is clearly a game of percentages, and in the end Smoking does more to give the advantage to the House, that is, Death, then any other single factor.
Thoreau’s now famous statement that “Most men lead lives of quite desperation,” gains credence when you stand in line at any convenience store and see just how many people purchase only two items: cigarettes and lottery tickets. They gotta have faith.
Get the book! The Satirist - America's Most Critical Book (Volume 1)
Satire has been used in writing for eons. It is a form of writing that uses humor to subtly mock a person, a concept, societal attitudes, among other subjects. It’s used in essays, literature, film, radio, theater,and other mediums. High quality satirical essays can make people laugh. They can launch a great debate on the topic at hand. They can be sarcastic, but they should never be pedestrian. They should be humorous. At the same time, when you satirize a topic, your main goal should be getting people to think and ask questions about their belief systems.
Technically, a satire essay is not a type of essay. Instead, it’s an approach to a subject that you can use on nearly any essay type and topic. You can use satire in persuasive essays, when writing a speech, in argumentative essays, in articles, and other papers. Basically, if your college instructor tells you to come up with satire ideas, or you believe that using satire will make your essay interesting, then it’s okay to explore satire topics.
Of course, writing satire isn’t easy. It can be difficult to use this writing style. Sometimes it’s helpful to come up with a bit of a step by step guide. Here are a few brief points to cover.
- Write a List of Potential Satire Topics
- Explore Your Topics Carefully
- Have Friends Help Narrow Down Satire Topics
- Select Your Best Ideas
- Write a Brief Satirical Essay Outline on Each
- Go With One of The Topics That is Most Natural For You
- Always Ask For Essay Help if You Need it
Of course, satire essay topics can be challenging to think of. To get started, here is a list of 30 satire ideas that are fun, unusual, and can create interesting debates.
Satire Essay Topics Examples: Your School And Local Area
When you write about your school and local area, you can really create a paper or article that’s a hit with other students. This is because what you are sending up will be familiar to them. This allows you to exploit the topic of the inside joke. Here are five topic ideas for writing about your school and local community.
- Write a Funny Review About Your School Cafeteria or Local Restaurant
- Create a Humorous Profile About a Typical Student or ‘Townie’
- Write a Light Hearted Send up of a Beloved Professor or Community Member
- Write a Mock Proposal For a New Course or Activity
- Create a Funny Rant About a Frustrating Local Situation
Are you new to your school? In that case, you may not be sure what local topics are ripe for satire. If so, take some time to do a bit of research. Read student publications. Check out websites that rate professors. Join your school’s student Facebook groups. Explore your community. Pretty soon, you’ll be informed enough to offer a slyly humorous take.
Satire Ideas: Current Events And Politics
Society has always craved funny and satirical writing when it comes to political issues. Just be sure to research things carefully. Your paper should make a solid argument, not random jokes. Make sure you know your stuff. Check out these story ideas on current events and politics.
- Use a Politicians Voice to Write About a Heady Topic
- Create a Mock Conversation Between Two Politicians
- Write a Funny News Article About a Current Event
- Explain The Current Political Climate to a Time Traveler From The Past
- Take a Political Position to its Extreme And Write About It
It’s perfectly fine to use satire to express your political views and frustrations. In fact, doing so is a wonderful thing. Just keep in mind that there is a lot of real estate between writing political satire and penning a political hit piece. If there’s a topic that makes your blood boil, that may not be the best subject to write about.
Satire Essay Topics Examples: Pop Culture
People love to make fun of the crazy things that celebrities do. However, that’s not the only subject you can cover when it comes to pop culture. This topic includes, art, current literature, the media, music, social media, and more. The next few topic ideas may just help you get started.
- Write a Paper Titled: Celebrities Are Just Like Us!
- Create a Review of a Trending YouTube Personality
- Cover The Latest Hipster Trends in The Local Music Scene
- Highlight The Disparities in What Media Thinks Teenagers Like And Reality
- Satirize The Use of Social Media For Personal Branding
Here’s a bit of advice. If you choose this category, do something unique. Go beyond simply mocking celebrities who say and do things that make them easy targets. Instead, think of the ways in which pop culture plays a role in our lives. Then, use satire to say something smart and funny about it.
Satire Examples: Funny Things About Family LIfe
Whether your a parent, child, brother, sister, cousin, or uncle there’s a lot to be addressed when it comes to family life. Both fun and serious topics can be addressed. Here are a few topic ideas.
- The Forgotten Sibling: The Life Story of The Middle Child
- Lampoon The Double Standards on Modest Dress Between Sons And Daughters
- Satire Divorce by Writing About The Joys of Kids Splitting Time Between Homes
- Describe How ‘Easy’ Life is For Stay at Home Moms
- Write a Guide on Enjoying Family Meals With Passive Aggressive Relatives
Be creative! Remember that there’s no more common experience than life as a member of a family. Touch on universal experiences. Play with preconceived notions about what families are and should be. Whether you use satire to celebrate togetherness or highlight dysfunction, work hard to do your topic the justice it deserves.
Satire Writing Prompts: Historical Issues
Essayists, novelists, screenwriters, and columnists have always enjoyed using historical events as a vehicle for satire. One of the reasons that this works so well is that you can use satire to subtly yet very pointedly highlight similarities between historical and current events. This can be an interesting way to approach funny research papers. Here are some possible subject areas you can approach.
- Life in Salem For The Average Witch
- The Joys of Colonization on The Indian Subcontinent
- Satirize Life During The Depression
- Write a Romanticized Version of The Pioneer Experience
- Take a Sarcastic View of Life in The Roman Empire
Just remember to be sensitive. While writing about dark times and events has long been a common thing to do, you also don’t want to offend your audience. Remember that if you hurt feelings or appear to be culturally insensitive you can’t always smooth that over by claiming you were just trying to be funny.
Satire Examples: Perfecting The Light Hearted Roast
A roast is written or spoken piece intending to mock a person or experience. It’s intended to be funny and clever, not horribly insulting. A roast can be a great exercise for a creative writing course. Here are a few topic ideas:
- Partner With Another Student to Roast One Another
- Roast a Favorite Movie or Book Character
- Satirize a Trip to a Popular Tourist Trap
- Roast a Historical Figure
- Point The Camera Inward And Write a Satirical Roast About Yourself
If you’re going to satirize someone that you know, who will be reading your essay, choose carefully. You’ll want to ensure that the person you write about will take your words with the humor that you intend.
Satirical Writing Tips
Keep in mind that if you’re going to use satire, you should also use caution. First, make sure it will be well-received. Know your professor. If they take themselves very seriously and seem a bit puritanical, satire may not go over well. It’s also important to ensure that your humor will be understood and taken well. Not everyone ‘gets’ satire. Some may think you are poking fun at important issues. On the other hand, in the right crowd, satire can be amazing.
Most importantly, make sure you are actually using satire. It should be humor that is smart and funny. Try using word play. Make subtle references to details about your topic. Show that you’ve explored your subject matter thoroughly and that you understand it enough to explore the humorous or absurd side of it.
If you would like to read examples of satire, you can check out websites like The Onion or follow them on social media. The same goes for college humor, if you are interested in learning about satire in video form. Once you read and watch more about satire, you’ll be better able to create it.
Satire is a great way to speak to important issues, poke fun at the ridiculous, and exercise your creative muscles. You can use satire to make your writing more interesting for your audience, and get more enjoyment out of the writing process itself. If you’re interested in writing a satirical piece, feel free to use one of the suggestions above as a starting point.
Posted by: James
The writer covering spheres of students' life and education-related current events. All you ever need to know about education is here! Useful tips to make the college life easy and fun!