High Society

Though satires predominately revel in tomfoolery, the genre can reveal core truths regarding what’s being satirized that often require the hysterical (both meanings) amplification of their bombasticity to detect.

Take Mel Brooks’ High Anxiety; as a sendup of Hitchcockianism, it borrows one of the suspense master’s signature bait-and-switches: the audience expects the “psychos” to be the “crazy” patients at the psychological institute, but in actuality it’s the everyday people in positions of power who’re the true nutsos, hiding their psychoses under performative behavioral mores of high, outwardly-civil society, a trope-as-worldview that also serves as a commentary on the arbitrariness of normalcy, and how our superficial perception of it can obscure the real darkness masked beneath.

High Anxiety perpetuates this perspective by forgoing the patients to focus instead on the doctors, who provide the aforementioned hysterics. You know, because those considered high enough above the “rabble” to cure them may be the ones most in need of treatment, and satirizing.

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