Tina Fey was asked about the killing at ‘Charlie Hebdo’, and her answers made headline news.
What resonated with me in particular (and not for the reasons you might think) was:
But … we’re Americans. … Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview, we have the right to make them.
So Ronery with my views
My disclaimer is:
1) I have not seen The Interview the film, but only the youtube clip where Kim’s head gets blown up.
2) I have skimmed through maybe a dozen Charlie Hebdo covers (Maybe 6 or so of the so-called anti-Muslim ones, and another 6 or so about Animal Rights) & I speak enough French to understand them.
OK, with that disclaimer, let me add another large one, I don’t condone the violence or the illegal hacking nor threatening (of the movie-goers)..however, I do find the tactics of the North Koreans (if they were responsible for the Sony hacking) much more palatable and laudable in some twisted sense, but that is another story.
When the Charlie Hebdo incident happened, and I skimmed through the covers, I found myself saying: “But it’s not very good, nor funny”.
My first question is: should political satire not be funny ( i.e. good)?
It’s heresy, I know, to ask this (all my friends in and out of France and in and out of the media business are changing their FB profile to “Je suis Charlie”) but why risk so much for such mediocre material? I found it offensive – the cartoons (a couple of them) and I am not even Muslim. And from what little I know, The Interview also looks to be a terrible film. So when Tina Fey made that remark “Even if it’s just dumb jokes in The Interview,” that bit resonated with me.
For example, my brand of humor is:
Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear and Sacha Baron Cohen. Clarkson, in particular, has not lost any support on his home turf, because he is always offending some country or some people. I still find the British “rah-rah” insensitivity a good antidote to the politically-correct-gone-overboard antics of other countries.
A skew-related subject is a film I recently watched at the cinema called Interstellar. I absolutely hated it, but virtually everybody I knew liked it, and kept saying “it’s a film, it doesn’t have to be all scientifically feasible”…they were missing the point, I wasn’t objecting to the science, I was just objecting to how crap it was – the story line and the actors.
My second question is when is it OK to make fun of people and what is free speech really?
For example, in South Korea, back during the election campaign various “street-artists” were being questioned for putting up posters depicting (President) Park as Snow White eating an apple which had her father on it. They were detained and “investigated” for breaching various rules including breaking into a building (to spray the pictures onto the street from the rooftop?) I also vaguely remember the authorities not happy with mice pictures of LMB. However, South Korea is spraying propaganda leaflets still in North Korea and the North are unhappy about that. I object to spraying any material that might litter (as anybody who lived in Seoul will know) Also, on the South Korean television we hardly have *any* political comedy nowadays. I really doubt that Japan and Korea (and definitely not China) have the same notion of “true freedom of speech and expression” as in the West. Their comedy is still shite. Why can we not have our own John Stewart or John Oliver in Asia? I swear, if we did, all our conflicts would disappear, because it’s just laugha-away-able – the problems we have between the neighbors.
Back to the topic, leading up to the Second World War, there were a lot of propaganda material against the Jewish people, depicting them as large-nosed money grabbing monsters. How is that much different from what Charlie Hebdo was doing in that it is targeting a minority in a country, and not the people in political power in their own country?
In a sense, Tina Fey hit another point when she mentions, how with the way we consume media, it’s not confined to the country anymore. I think political satire flourishes when the true freedom of expression is exercised, i.e. it is against the status quo, or the faction-in-control. When it starts to border on foreign policy, or minorities with less power, then is it still all-that? Or If we can classify some groups of people as violent, dangerous, but lacking in brain cells, what use is it to taunt them under the context of free speech? And not very well at that?
P.S. I also enjoyed Team America tremendously, why? because it was funny, and good.
P.P.S. Another Disclaimer: The views expressed on this post is a sketchy one in more than one sense of the word, and does not in any way reflect the views of the blog owner who is a very coherent and reasonable person.
Photo from morethings.com.