Humor in America
Those of us who study humor, and I would think that many people in general, have spent a lot of time the past few days thinking and reading about the meanings of the Charlie Hebdo Massacre in France. We have collected here a number of the articles, cartoons, videos, and other pieces that have been helpful and/or provocative, although this list is in no way exhaustive. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments.
*Joe Sacco’s provocative cartoon “On Satire“: “In fact, when we draw a line, we are often crossing one too. Because lines on paper are a weapon, and satire is meant to cut to the bone. But whose bone? What exactly is the target?”
*Ruben Bolling of “Tom the Dancing Bug” “IN NON-SATIRICAL DEFENSE OF CHARLIE HEBDO”
*The Daily Show on the tragedy.
*Ted Rall, “Political Cartooning is almost worth dying for.”“Which brings me to my big-picture reaction to yesterday’s horror: Cartoons are incredibly powerful.
Not to denigrate writing (especially since I do a lot of it myself), but cartoons elicit far more response from readers, both positive and negative, than prose. Websites that run cartoons, especially political cartoons, are consistently amazed at how much more traffic they generate than words. I have twice been fired by newspapers because my cartoons were too widely read — editors worried that they were overshadowing their other content.”
*Unmournable Bodies, by Teju Cole: “But it is possible to defend the right to obscene and racist speech without promoting or sponsoring the content of that speech. It is possible to approve of sacrilege without endorsing racism. And it is possible to consider Islamophobia immoral without wishing it illegal.”
*”Charlie Hebdo is Heroic and Racist” by Jordan Weissmann. “So Charlie Hebdo’s work was both courageous and often vile. We should be able to keep both of these realities in our minds at once, but it seems like we can’t.”
*Were Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons racist? This says yes. This provides much needed context on the difficult question of cultural norms. NYT on the context of Charlie Hebdo and French satire. Some explanation of some of the controversial Charlie Hebdo covers. And more context on the satire of the magazine.
*”What it means to be a cartoonist in France” by comics scholar Bart Beaty.
*”The Charlie Hebdo I Know” by Scott Sayare.”The impulse to consecrate Charlie Hebdo in a moment of horror and anger—an impulse felt far beyond France—is eminently comprehensible. But one may mourn the dead and condemn their senseless slaughter, and hail their courage in carrying out a mission in which they deeply believed, without celebrating the magazine for virtues it did not espouse.”
* “Let’s not sacralize Charlie Hebdo” by Arthur Goldhammer. “It’s an anarchic populist form of obscenity that aims to cut down anything that would erect itself as venerable, sacred or powerful. Such satirical humor has little in common with the kind of witty political satire with which Americans are familiar today through watching Jon Stewart or John Oliver.”
*Moral Clarity, by Adam Shatz. “In laying exclusive blame for the Paris massacres on the ‘totalitarian’ ideology of radical Islam, liberal intellectuals like Packer explicitly disavow one of liberalism’s great strengths. Modern liberalism has always insisted that ideology can go only so far in explaining behaviour. Social causes matter.”
*Slavoj Žižek on the Charlie Hebdo massacre: Are the worst really full of passionate intensity?
*An interview with Francoise Mouly.
*An interview with Art Spiegelman.
*Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: These Terrorist Attacks Are Not About Religion. And here are the examples of Muslim groups condemning the attacks that Fox news had a hard time finding. And here is Aziz Ansari taking on Rupert Murdoch.
* Charlie Hebdo and the hypocrisy of pencils by Corey Oakley. “The history of the West’s relationship with the Muslim world – a history of colonialism and imperialism, of occupation, subjugation and war – cries out in protest against the quaint idea that “Western values” entail a rejection of violence and terror as political tools.”
* Actually This is not solidarity , This is a sick joke !! An Egyptian blogger looks at the hypocrisy of the pro-free speech marches in Egypt and France.
*”Where is the line?: Thoughts on humor and satire” by Tracy Wuster
* “In an Unequal World, Mocking All Serves the Powerful” by Saladin Ahmed. “The belief that satire is a courageous art beholden to no one is intoxicating. But satire might be better served by an honest reckoning of whose voices we hear and don’t hear, of who we mock and who we don’t, and why.”
*A cartoon by Keith Knight on the other terrorist attack this past week.
*Dan Savage on the danger of self-censorship.: “Charlie Hebdo and Piss Christ: On Fear and Self-Censorship and the AP’s Dangerous New Precedent”
*Teresa Prados-Torreira, “To Be or Not to Be Charlie”