Political Humor and Censorship – Essay Sample
Political humor differs. Political jokes vary from century to century, country to country, state to state. The only feature remains constant: “Satire is malicious” as Buchwald suggests (qtd. in Freedman, et al. 2). We enjoy candid, often impudent jokes, full of unconcealed hostility and disdain. They question the authority of those influential, powerful people who have our countries’ future in their clutches, and it generates a certain level of excitement. By obtaining great amounts of power, by having influence on the events that can change the course of the history, political leaders become public figures with their each move being watched by the whole world. The attention they attract may be caused by both approval and discontent. The latter is often expressed with the use of contemptuous and sometimes even aggressive satire. According to Freud “by belittling and humbling our enemy, by scorning and ridiculing him, we indirectly obtain the pleasure of his defeat by the laughter of the third person, the inactive spectator” (qtd. In Freedman, et al. 2). The question is whether it is right to do so and whether the censorship is needed when the powerful ones are being offended.
A joke may be dull and boring or smart and refined, but there are always people who find it funny. In my opinion, censorship ruins humor’s original spontaneity and natural playfulness, things that actually make a good joke hilarious, and a bad one – bearable. No doubt, political joking is a delicate subject. This type of humor differs greatly from all the other ones, since it touches the issues that are originally too serious to make fun of, while the people being ridiculed are those in power. You definitely have to have a certain amount of courage when deciding to laugh at some president’s last speech for example. But even if you possess courage enough to do so, you will probably be prevented from making your jokes heard by general public. I believe this state of affairs to be completely wrong.
Someone may argue that making fun of famous politics can threaten their authority in an unfair and incorrect way, which can eventually lead to a number of undesirable and harmful consequences. Let me than object that in political jokes the relief is in no way political. When a person hears a political joke he is not supposed to change his opinion over the subject being brought up. In fact, his judgment concerning some event or some individual being referred to will never change because of somebody’s making fun of it. A person with strong beliefs and political judgments being already formed will not change his attitude to the issue just because someone made up a clever anecdote about it. “The joke just satisfies a desire to spell out the forbidden, to hear the censored texts, to speak freely, without responsibility” (Heller 156), it cannot damage authority of someone who has obtained it deservedly.
Certainly, not every joke deserves to be heard, since not every satirist takes real facts as a starting-point when making up an anecdote. Some humorists do not deserve public attention, since their humor is a poor one. After all, satirist are human beings just like we are, and they cannot always be objective and wise. They definitely have their personal preferences, and they surely make mistakes when giving it to one or another political force. However, the point is that humor doesn’t have to be neither informative nor objective. It just has to be smart, and that is all. “Trying to get through the daily grind without humor is unthinkable, for most of us” (On Dark Humor, Censorship, the “Humor Impaired” and Freedom of Speech), and that is why we enjoy political humor so badly – it makes it easier to observe a confusing web of intrigues, scandals, lies and hidden intentions that the present-day politics represent.
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