Why content is funny:
  • Satire: A literary composition in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule
  • Parody:  A humorous version of any well-known writing
  • Irony: A contrast and discrepency between expectation and reality
Two main types of satire:
  • Mostly animated (i.e. South Park, Simpsons)
  • Tend to exaggerate
  • Allows for artistic freedom in representation and situations


  • Like television, uses animation (political cartoons)
  • Allows for exaggeration and interpretation
Television: Somali Pirates
  • Most humor centers around the word “pirates”
  • Both bits play to preconceived notions of pirates
  • South Park: Perspective allows inclusion of horrific practices in playful manner
  • South Park: Interestingly, the pirates that are sung about are in some ways worse than the Somalian ones
  • SNL: Like South Park, plays to the preconceived notions of “pirates”
  • SNL: Neither party is typical pirate, thus the confusion is further exaggerated
  • SNL: Ride worker rampage is seen as sign that writers play to stereotypes, have little understanding of the real Somali Pirates
  • Significance: Somali pirates are easy target since pirates are such a common part of popular culture.
  • http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/225458
Television: Osama Bin Laden
  • “Jihad Joe” action figure
  • Al Qaeda Recruiting Video
  • South Park “Osama has Farty Pants” based on the old Loony Tunes WWII cartoons
  • Loony Tunes- Nazi Germany, depicts
  • http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/152957
  • http://www.hulu.com/watch/50422/family-guy-a-message-from-bin-laden
Television: Saddam Hussein
  • South Park: Saddam takes his “top-down” violence to heaven
  • The U.S. government believes Saddam has WMDs in heaven
  • Japanese reach heaven first (not really).  People in South Park believed it
  • Significance: U.S. government views any intelligence on Saddam as credible and people believe anything they see on TV
  • http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153691
Print: Jyllands – Posten
  • 30 Sep 2005 – Danish newspapers print 12 cartoons: how the top Danish cartoonists see Prophet Mohammed
  • “an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship”
  • harsh criticism from officials and diplomats as well as Islamic scholars
  • string of terrorist attacks, the largest of which three years afterwards in Islamabad (Al Qaeda claims responsibility)
Print: Lars Vilkens
  • June 2007 – Swedish artist depicts Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog
  • “the art and culture communities in Sweden repeatedly criticize the United States and Israel, whereas Muslim values are rarely even questioned”
  • Latest Events:
  • 9 March 2010 seven people arrested in the Republic of Ireland over an alleged plot to assassinate Vilks
  • the suspects range in age from mid 20’s to late 40’s, those arrested were foreign-born Irish residents, mostly from Yemen and Morocco
  • the same day, Colleen R. LaRose (Jihad Jane) from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suburbs, had her federal indictment unsealed charging her with trying to recruit Islamic terrorists to murder Vilks
What does this mean?
  • As a way to help come to terms with what is going on in the world, people often turn to comedy
  • These representations are both informative and also help put things in perspective
  • Exaggeration allows the creator to call attention to certain aspects of the people who are being represented
  • “Groups like al Qaeda must be ‘de-glamorized’ and shown to be ‘incompetent, narcissistic and irreligious’