The Satire of Scout Zhou
Junior Scout Zhou talks about his intentions and thought processes behind the satirical emails he sends out on a weekly basis to notify the school of the opening of the World Language Center.
Q: What prompted you to start writing the language center emails in a satirical manner?
When I first came to America, the very first thing I saw on American television was a Geico commercial. That was an unforgettable experience for me and I think my emails serve a similar purpose as those Geico commercials. Usually, the contents of my email have nothing to do with the language center itself and how it operates. It’s simply written to entertain people because the language center is a relatively new organization that doesn’t attract people a lot. It’s kinda like an advertisement. And what better way to write a piece of advertisement in a school filled with anxty teenagers, of course, you have to write it in a satirical manner.
Q: What goes through your mind as you write the language center emails? Where do you get your inspiration?
There are different forms of my emails. At the very beginning, I was thinking “What do people usually think of me?” and “how can I enlarge that image they have of me into a comical form, to this hyperbolically comical figure?” So then I decided to use an extremely overtly sophisticated, petulant and condescending tone, where I basically look like I’m throwing random membean words. I just replace every word I can possibly find in like Trecherous.com, which you know, I do not use, because why.
Q: Recently, the email format has changed from being a paragraph to a diary format and then to a format of mentioning historical events. Is there a certain reason why you changed it?
Well, in the beginning, I didn’t have a plan on how this email thing was going to turn out. Later, I thought about it as if I was a clown at a circus, thinking of a way to entertain the crowd. Then I thought that it would be entertaining to display my psychological movement throughout the entire year. So you have the condescending tone at the beginning when the emails were just in paragraph forms, and then as the year goes by, it slowly degrades to these weird images and letters, to display that I’ve given up.
I do want to keep the consistency of using overly complicated and ridiculously sophisticated words, but just like how Geico can’t keep using the same formula to make a “random” commercial, I need variety in my emails to make it a successful piece of advertisement. Maybe for my emails, that variety is a rise in levels of absurdity. And also, the historical events, I honestly just dump my knowledge to do because I really have nothing else to do. My mind isn’t that intricate.
Q: What do you want people to get out of the emails you send?
Well, just laughter. That’s it. There’s really no substance in them. It’s more so a level of projections of absurdity, that maybe you will sometimes experience in a prep school and in academic environments in general. Sometimes, absurdity is the best way to alleviate academic pressure, or, perhaps to fix people. And also I really can not make simple jokes, I just can’t.
Q: What can we expect out of the emails you send out in the future?
Well, I don’t know. I’m running out of ideas as of right now, actually not really. I think because my psychological state as reverted to a less stressful, I will make it less personal and maybe less absurd. Also, regarding the future of this whole email thing, I personally I think more people find it amusing not because it’s “my” email but more so because it’s a new form to communicate with other students. I think anybody can do that in the future actually, even if it’s not just me.