Azure Jane Lunatic (azurelunatic) wrote,
Azure Jane Lunatic

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Why the public reaction to the Osama bin Laden manhunt disgusts and terrifies me

My primary emotion upon encountering a bit of pop culture would-be humor centered around Osama bin Laden and the theme "what we're going to do to this bastard once we find him" is absolute revulsion. I do not want to see it, I do not want to hear it, and above all, I do not think it is funny.

My best friend and I had a serious miscommunication yesterday when he played some mutant monstrosity of a song, "Osama got run over by a reindeer." He was expecting me to giggle and say, "Yes, that's very funny." I did not. I was working my way towards articulating exactly why it was not funny to me when his mom came home and he had to get off the phone.

I don't think torture is funny. The predominant spirit of the US towards the capture of Osama bin Laden, honestly, is "Once we get that bastard, we are going to torture him until he is dead, revive him, then torture him again some more, just to make him pay." That may be a well-earned sentiment, and those of you who feel that way are welcome to it, but please do not pretend that torture of a person prompted by that person's coordinating a terrorist plot that killed a large number of noncombatants (in a country that had formerly never experienced a loss of life due to terrorism on quite that scale before) is funny. Torture is not funny.

Mistaken identity is funny. I might get a giggle out of a humorous bit on "Well, we caught the guy, and proceeded to torture him, but then found out that actually we had the wrong guy." That involves torture, but the main humor is not in the torture, it is in the "Ooops, we should have checked first" element.

There was, some time ago, a current events type cartoon featuring three men hiding in the same remote cave: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and some random guy. "Who are you?" the other two men ask. "I'm the guy who caught that ball at that Cubs game," the man replies. That was funny not because hey, anything with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein is funny, but because the public outrage over the fan catching the baseball was shorter-lived, but indeed furious, so comparing the public outrage over someone spoiling a game to the public outrage over someone being a ruthless psychotic dictator who is responsible for many people dying or a reactionary fanatic cult-like terrorist group leader who is responsible for many people dying is hilarious.

Osama bin Laden photoshopped into a wedding dress. By itself, unremarkable. It is unlikely, and worth a brief "What the shit is that!" moment. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, photoshopped not only into wedding garb but into a love nest? That's approximately as funny as deciding that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Maul should really be lovers as well -- hilarious for some just because it's so unlikely, and worth a "Meh, whatever" from others. It was only worthy of serious roll-on-the-floor-laughing time when you consider that the same photo graced the cover of one of the bestselling US tabloids, and was therefore possibly believed by the portions of the population who routinely believe the lead story on any given tabloid even without reading the article.

There are any number of geuninely funny opportunities for humor in the continued absence of Osama bin Laden. Incompetence of the searchers. Implausible but good disguise. But inserting him into "Grandma got run over by a reindeer" does nothing for him or for the original song.

"Grandma got run over by a reindeer" is funny because one does not expect Santa and his reindeer to be the sort who get into drunk driving accidents, and furthermore, the situation caused by the grandmother's unexpected death is told humorously by a naive narrator. And it's seasonal.

If the song had been cleverly re-written, perhaps detailing the goings-on in the terrorist hideout after the decease of the Fearless Leader, it could have been funny. If the reactions of world leaders who had been searching for the fellow had been put in, it could have been funny. But it relied on "See? Terrorist leader, died horribly, ha ha ha," for the joke, and thus flopped miserably.

I'm a filker as well as a generally peaceful person who does not believe that torture for the sake of revenge is a good plan. I write song parodies myself, and know and appreciate good lyrics and good humor. Osama bin Laden anally violated by reindeer antlers alone does not make a good parody.

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