I've started twittering (or do I also say "tweeting" to clarify my presence on Twitter?). Of course, I know you'll all rush over to your own accounts and hit my "follow" button, but while you're at it, you should also add Neil Gaiman. I did, and I'm a better person for it, but sometimes I'm taken a little off guard.
A few days ago, I was looking over my tweets (or everyone else's. Who do they belong to?), and noticed Neil had posted a number of them, as he usually does. By the way, Neil and I are on a first name basis. If any of you see him, please tell him. One of his posts linked to an article in which were both a woman claimed she had no sexual attraction to the superwriter, and another woman who, essentially, called "bullshit." The other woman, the article read, had written a book on Gaiman's sexiness.
Then, "neilhimself" posted another article. This one was about the possible revocation of his Newberry Award for The Graveyard Book. Having just finished the book, I was more than a little interested. I mean, I was interested in the first article, but only a little. I know how dreamy Neil is. Ahem. Anyway, I read over this new bit of disquieting info: Neil's Newberry was null for nary else than a nefarious librarian needling the rules. One of the book's chapters had been published previously, and this woman claimed this disqualified the work.
I wasn't too upset. I loved the book, sure, but things like award revocations just don't happen that often. In my estimation, it wouldn't happen here. Then, I noticed something amiss: a photo of the plaintiff and two other women. It looked photoshopped, and badly, I might add.
My suspicions had become peaked by the time I got to the third article. It was about the prevailing effort of inducting Gaiman to sainthood. If it were up to me, I might just recommend him, but there was a quote in the piece I thought a little out of place. Gaiman was quoted as saying words to the effect of, "I have to finish a miracle... man comic script. Yeah. Miracleman." And then I knew the whole thing was a sham; Neil hasn't written Miracleman in years.
Also, it was April first.
When you're sarcastic in text, you have to be careful. Even if what you say is unbelievable, someone will believe it. They will believe because people are stupid. Which isn't as easy to quantify as you'd think. One could easily say I was stupid for biting on any of those aforementioned articles, but remember, I'm a satirist myself. Read over the Miracleman bit again. Oh, and I have subtly used language to suggest I have multiple, that is, more than one, readers. Obviously, I'm as full of it as the next guy, so my own idiocy is not the sole reason you should forgive your audience, when you make fun. The real reason is, your supposed subject may be stupid, and your audience cannot plumb those inane depths.
It's happened to me. I remember, years and years ago, an article I came across online reporting the Bush administration banning Final Fantasy VII. It's pretty much my favorite game ever, so I was pissed. As I read, I learned the reason for this was because the game's heroes, members of a group called Avalanche, were environmental terrorists. I was a kid, and didn't know much, but it was my opinion that the Bush oligarchy would do something so despicable. Now, being older, I would probably still believe it. W. is pretty evil.
Maybe it's a video game thing, though. I saw in an issue of Game Informer a letter complaining about how a hypothetical Metal Gear game made by the creators of Assassin's Creed would be an abomination on the face of gaming. Game Informer came back with the usual antipathy they exhibit for their readership (something at which I marvel, and would never do to any of you), lambasting him for his inability to see the obvious kid being made. The thing about kidding is, though, that you have to, humorously, present an idea that just cannot be true. GI is neither humorous, and the idea was pretty tenable. In MGS4, Snake can unlock Altair's costume. That, and I've seen some deficient games in my time, like MGS4, for instance. Just so you know, the sentence immediately preceding was entirely heartfelt.
So much of irony depends on tone. You're reading this with the voice in your head, which is more or less how you hear yourself. I mean, I read in Dr. Farnsworth's voice (Good news everyone! Now you are, too), but that voice doesn't know when and where to inflect for that comedic twist. Good writing has tone, but between my faithlessness in both the general public's (not your) intelligence and many writer's abilities, I can't always tell when there's a snicker or two in there.
The way to fix this is to develop of voice in your writing. And if a reader comes back and makes a for serious comment, be nice. Just don't stop being funny. Or, in some people's cases, start.