20 years ago, the film “American Beauty” was released. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2000. Today, it is routinely mocked. The Little Theatre has been highlighting films from 1999, which was considered one of the great years in cinema history. How could the critics in the Academy have been so wrong about a movie that was supposed to be the best out of all of them?

We reexamine suburban life, teenage angst, and the quest for meaning within the satirical film. In studio:

What is the difference between parody and satire? The line between the two is often blurred, but both can be effective tools in making social and political commentary.

This hour, our guests discuss how to distinguish parody from satire and how both are being used – successfully or unsuccessfully – in the current comedy landscape. In studio:

When tennis superstar Serena Williams was penalized multiple times during the U.S. Open final on Saturday, her reaction led to controversy. Williams told the chair umpire at the match that a man would not be criticized for the comments and behavior that she displayed. Many people agreed; others said even if that is the case, it doesn’t excuse her behavior.

In the midst of this conversation, an Australian political cartoonist created an image of Williams stomping on her racket; her features were exaggerated and a pacifier was at her feet. Cartoonist Mark Knight and his defenders called it satire; others called it racist and sexist.

This hour, we discuss the role of satire in the current climate, and the controversy surrounding the image and the issues at the match itself. Our guests:

  • Amanda Chestnut, artist and communications coordinator at Flower City Arts Center
  • Dick Roberts, artist and former political cartoonist for the Democrat and Chronicle
  • Mara Ahmed, activist, artist, and filmmaker at Neelum Films

What happens when we blend politics, journalism, and entertainment? In one sense, we get appearances like Sean Spicer at the Emmys this past weekend. We also see such blending at Geva's Summer Curtain Call, and the White House Correspondents' Dinner in years past.

But the Spicer appearance sparked some backlash amongst those who say it waves away the serious problem of lying for an administration; people who are more vulnerable aren't laughing at Spicer's star turn. So where is the line? Our guests:

Tina Fey’s sketch last week set off a debate about sheetcake feminism.” Fey urged viewers to ignore white supremacists who rally in places like Charlottesville and Boston. Instead, she urged them to support local bakeries and scream into their sheetcake, while refusing to engage.

Critics have said that Fey’s message is covered in privilege, and reflects the divide on the left that surfaced during the January Women’s March. Our guests  discuss it. In studio:

Is American satire dead? Author Malcolm Gladwell says it is.

Think Tina Fey was great as Sarah Palin? Gladwell calls it "toothless." Jimmy Fallon as Donald Trump? Pathetic, made even worse by Trump's repeat appearances on the show. Gladwell says the best satire is not just about an accurate portrayal; it's about making a point, and moving the public. But is Gladwell being unfair? Are there great satirists working today?

Our panel discusses the value of satire, and why we don't see nearly as much satire as other forms of comedic expression. In studio:

  • Kerry Young, director, teacher, and veteran on the theater scene
  • Tim Ryan, Geva Comedy Improv
  • Tom Proietti, resident scholar in media at St. John Fisher College

In the wake of the murders at Charlie Hebdo, the world has been talking about satire. What is its value? Why do extremists feel so threatened by it? We sit down with two people who can speak at length about what satire is, what it can do, and more:

  • Elaine Miller, a Pittsford resident who collects and studies political cartoons
  • William Alden, a local cartoonist