Satire, Charlie Hebdo and Queen Rania

It’s understandable why countless people were offended by the Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting Aylan as a future sex offender. However, as a student of satire I’m always suspect when it(satire) doesn’t offend. Firstly, it is impossible to not offend someone just given the sheer number of people on earth connected through social media, which specializes in bringing together into the arena of the private screen, diverse ways of thinking and ideologies in real time. Secondly, before we go further into the issue, let’s briefly mention that satire is a an art-form that finds expression through a plethora of avenues with literature and the performing arts literature being the most familiar. The intent of sarcasm is oftentimes social criticism clothed in humor. Satire uses exaggeration and at times ridicule to expose and criticize biases that inform no end of current issues. The issue concerning satire is can we move past the initial offense towards action.

Last week

rania2The Independent reported that:

Queen Rania of Jordan has publicly criticized the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo over the publication of a cartoon depicting the drowned Syrian child Aylan Kurdi as a sexual molester. Charlie Hebdo’s interpretation of an older Aylan Kurdi, who made headlines around the world when a picture showed his body washed up on a beach in Turkey, depicted him as an animal-like figure chasing a woman. It was accompanied with the caption “What would little Aylan become if he’d grown up? … Someone who gropes asses in Germany.”
The part that gets me about the article published by the Independent is where they assert that Queen Rania’s commissioned cartoon mirrors the same premise of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon in a more positive manner. This would imply that the premise in and of itself is neutral and that the means of its expression can either be deemed as positive -highlighting the nobility of the human spirit and its capability to endure and continue onwards to great accomplishment. Or on the other hand, the aforementioned premised can be expressed negatively, meaning one can show juxtapose the biases and bigotry concerning immigrants that are circulating right now in the media with the truth of Aylan’s murder to simultaneously castigate the politicians other people in power who are not checked or called into question into question for both their xenophobia and jingoistic rhetoric.
Looking at what seems to me to be the rise of anti immigrant sentiment, I think there are a lot of questions this cartoon raises that I haven’t seen addressed much if at all. Positive cartoons, or statements do not seem to incite much reaction or actions other than clicks, retweets Facebook ‘likes’ and shares, etc. And after a while they fade away to make room for some new sensational story. It is ironic for me to see such xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment in America a nation of immigrants. I have no issue with Queen Rania did as it’s for me an example of satire in motion. Her response keeps the conversation moving. Too often, again we never move past the shock of being offended. I must admit that I find it odd that one is more offended at a satirical weekly newspaper than our collective political leadership, allowing innocent men women and children to die looking for safe haven. When someone is more offensive at the joke/satirical piece than what it alludes to, I feel that anger comes more often than not, from being disturbed from a comfortable perch and having been made to look at reality.
             Is there a line satire shouldn’t cross how do we judge its effectiveness?
                             Does personal offense invalidate the message of any creative work ?


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