David Bindman, University College London, United Kingdom
Migrating Frogs: the mutability of national stereotypes in visual satire
National symbols are a prominent feature of political caricature. My paper concerns the transmigration of one particular symbol: the frog. It is common in Britain to refer to the French as frogs, but originally in British caricature the Dutch were frogs and the French frog-eaters, and remained so until the French Revolution. This transmigration will be presented and explained.
Ilan Danjoux, university of Calgary, Canada
A Satirical Assessment of the Arab Spring
While political cartoons have long been associated with war (e.g. Darby 1983; Smith 1999; Lewin and Huff 2007) and revolution (e.g. Alba 1967; Brummett 1995; Balaghi’s 1998; Tunç 2002), they also perform an important democratic function by holding leaders accountable for their policies. Their delegitimizing impact on political elites often results in disproportionate efforts to silence them. Rather than succumb to censorship, cartoonists typically respond with double-entendre symbolism, sarcasm and satire. As a result, cartoons document the freedom of their society in both the style and content of their imagery. This talk offers a satirical assessment of the Arab Spring by identifying the democratic turn in post-revolutionary cartoons.
Dr. Jeffrey Jones, Old Dominion University, United States of America
Television Satire and the Liberal Ironist: Where We’ve Been and Where We Are Going
Television satire, arguably, has never been more popular than it is today in dozens of countries across the globe. Political satire and news parody, in particular, have flourished on television over the last two decades. This talk will focus on where satire scholarship has been and where we might go (the theoretical implications) in assessing the broader cultural and political import of satire’s use and popularity.
First, the talk employs the conference themes of time, space, target, media, and rhetoric as a heuristic for exploring what we have learned from U.S. and global scholarship on television satire and news parody—what it tells us about this turn toward satire as both political and entertainment speech acts, as well as satire’s increasingly important place and role within broader political culture.
Second, the talk explores satire’s relationship to the continuing demise of Western society’s modernist “regime of truth” (Foucault), one in which news media were seen as the legitimate arbiters for establishing truth, primarily by advocating a direct correspondence between representation and reality. The talk concludes by taking up American philosopher Richard Rorty’s conception of the “liberal ironist,” his or her relationship to “ironic authenticity” as a discourse, and how satire might be seen as a useful tool in the reconstitution of societal expectations for arriving at truth.
Giselinde Kuipers, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Satire and dignity
Studies of satire usually look at the satire itself – the text, the image, the genre or form. Alternatively, they look at the satirists: who are they, what do they do, and what is their place in society? An important source of variation across time and space is the role of the target: what is expected of people who become the butt of satire? Should they laugh, ignore, suppress, mount a counterattack? If so, should this counterattack be serious or humorous?
The social danger inherent in being satirized is primarily the loss of dignity. Because satire often targets people or institutions in power, the loss of dignity may lead to loss of authority – a very real threat to one’s position. The response, therefore, must be dignified. However, a survey of satire across the ages suggests that what is considered a dignified response varies greatly. In most Western societies today, the ability to respond to satire with laughter and humor is highly valued. Probably the most prominent example is the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where the president of the United States is openly mocked – and then ridicules the other in return. However, this is a carefully prepared and scripted event. This already points to the danger involved in this strategy: there are many ways in which the participants, in particular the president, could lose face. However, in many times, places and settings, it may be considered more dignified to ignore the satirist, or to counterattack in a more serious manner.
In our era of increasing globalization and mediation, people from different “humor regimes”, or people with different understanding of dignity, are confronted with the same satirical expressions. In this lecture, I analyze various examples of satire from past and present to unravel the various possibilities for responding to being satirized: what is considered a dignified response? Why, and to whom, is this dignified? And what happens when people disagree about the appropriateness of a response to satire?
Peter Altena, Dominicus College of Nijmegen, Netherlands
The wisdom of man and ape in Dutch and German literature : Reize door het Aapenland (1788) and Die Affenkönige oder die Reformation des Affenlandes (1789) considered
On the eve of the French Revolution there was great unease and upheaval in the Netherlands and Germany. In two satirical novels, published in 1788 and 1789, by the Dutch writer Gerrit Paape (under the pseudonym Dr J.A. Schasz M.D.) and his German colleague Johann Friedrich Ernst Albrecht, this existential, social and political unease and upheaval is reflected. Both writers have depicted the fate of man travelling in apelands. In Reize door het Aapenland (1788) and Die Affenkönige oder die Reformation des Affenlandes (1789) the transformations from ape into man and man into ape not only revealed the follies of society but they also challenged readers to make their own comparisons and interpretations.
Paape and Albrecht were both born in 1752. Paape was familiar with the novels of Albrecht, he translated some of them into Dutch. It is unknown if Albrecht knew Paape or his works. But they both were engaged in political and satirical writing and in decades of political crisis they both used apes to tell uncomfortable truths.
The Dutch and German satirical novel will be studied and compared to see if the apes brought similar messages. An important question is what was criticized in 1788 and 1789 and who were mocked.
Luca Barra, Università Cattolica of Milan, Italy
The (Im)Possible Adaptation: Satirical Elements in the Italian Dubbing of US TV Sitcoms
In recent years, American satirical routines and comedians have been able to enter, be known and spread into different markets and cultures, thanks to the international distribution of US television shows, and especially of their TV sitcoms. However, the global circulation of these texts is only one side of a more complex process: entering another nation, each product has to partially change in order to be easily understood by a different audience. Several production and distribution routines – such as dubbing and scheduling – influence the satirical program and its receptions, and lead to a number of modifications that often limit the power and ambiguity of comedy and satire. Even in a culturally close country such as Italy, puns, parodies and other forms of irony need to be fully reconstructed, or at least explained. Therefore, the contribution will examine the complex adaptation of some US TV sitcoms in Italy, in contemporary TV as well as in the span of the last twenty years: i.e. Seinfeld, Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother and Two Broke Girls. It will focus on the translations, transformations (and sometimes censorships) of satirical jokes and cultural references in the Italian dubbed version. And it will try to understand the industrial reasons, the production routines and the professionals’ pre-comprehensions of national television audiences that have led to the various forms of adaptation, and often determine the success or the failure of each TV product in another country.
Laura Basu, Utrecht University, Netherlands
British Satire in the Thick of It
In April 2012, leader of the British opposition party Ed Miliband accused the government of presiding over an “omnishambles”. This witty assault was met with great mirth from both politicians and the news media, who together have turned the event into an ongoing extravaganza. Much of the hilarity came from the fact that Miliband was actually quoting a character from British political satire The Thick of It (TTOI), which coined the term to mean multiple political disasters occurring all at once. TTOI is popular not only with a notoriously cynical British public, but even more so with the politicians and journalists that are the target of its ridicule. Arguably, TTOI’s politics are quite radical, exposing the news media and politicians of all colours to be in cahoots, forming a social apparatus which is rotten to the core, and thereby offering a challenge to liberal democracy itself. It is deeply ironic, then, that the show has itself been incorporated by this very same apparatus. At a time when news corporations are themselves hitting the headlines, what does it mean for a satire to be adopted so enthusiastically by the system it so aggressively derides? In this paper, I examine the politics of the show itself, and the dynamic by which it has been incorporated by the wider political-media complex, showing that this form of intermediality functions in the opposite way to Jonathan Gray’s notion of parodic “critical intertextuality”. Such an exploration inevitably leads us to revisit the question of satire’s functions and its much-debated relationship to cynicism, and ultimately the Big Questions of the state of current politics and democracy, and of how and whether it is possible for dissenting voices to be heard without being incorporated into the mainstream and neutralised.
Carolyn Birdsall, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Beyond Caricature: Carnival Humour and Satire in Interwar Germany
This presentation is concerned with the status of satire in interwar Germany, in relation to the re-establishment of carnival in the 1920s and 1930s. Carnival figured prominently in post-WWI social and political critique, with its ethos of “the world turned upside down” providing an apt metaphor for Weimar-era modernity and crisis. While this rich case study lends itself to a number of analytical perspectives, the presentation will focus on the different articulations of carnival satire across a variety of medial and cultural forms (including cartoons, stage performance, street parades and radio broadcasts). These sources provide insights into cultural expressions and negotiations that deal with post-war German political autonomy, social norms and ‘cultural others’. It is crucial not to only privilege visual representations (like caricatures in print journalism), but to also consider the broader social function of carnival humour and satire, given the renewed emphasis on collective ritual, local identity and Heimat/Volk traditions in the aftermath of World War I. Interwar carnival provides a good case for a reflection on the historically specific function, circulation and censorship of satire, but also its (inter)medial realisation, ranging from Simplicissimus caricatures to satirical songs and radio performances.
Kiene Brillenburg-Wurth, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Puppets, Televisual Satire, and the Uncanny: Absolutely Fabulous
Puppets are a powerful tool in political satire, as they have the ability to ‘say everything’: they are ‘just puppets’ speaking. Puppets are therefore dangerous, as recent (and fruitless) censoring of satirical puppetry in Syria and South Africa attests to. However, the danger of puppets in the play of satire is not just the danger of free, excitable speech. Puppets, Kenneth Gross has recently suggested in Puppet, are a ‘metaphor of human making, a form of life’. In my paper I trace this peculiar ‘form of life’ to the uses of puppets as a medium of the grotesque in televisual satire. What is the role and force of the puppet in satire on screen? What kind of history does the puppet carry with it to have become such a successful satirical tool? Focusing on Absolutely Fabulous I show how puppetry becomes an instrument of the uncanny in a satire of the consumptive female body. More specifically, I argue how satire works through the uncanny in Absolutely Fabulous as the demarcation between human and the inhuman becomes blurred (cf Patsy who never eats and acts on external aids and stimulants, as if she were a shell, a puppet with no interiority). I show how the reversal between the human and the puppet or puppet-like figure—an old and familiar topos in Western culture—in Absolutely Fabulous allows us to unravel the idea of the satiric grotesque as a theatrical, intermedial mode.
Ahmed Chaib, Ibn Zohr University, Morocco
The Carnaval of Imaacharn: a Mixture of Interculturality and Transculturality
Imaacharn is a ritual festival which takes place once a year in Tiznit, south of Morocco, on the occasion of a religious event called Achora. It has a spectacular and jovial aspect.
It is used as sarcasm against social, religious and ethnic values. It is interculturally charged as it holds in its style and content transcultural matters known in this region amongst its people (Berbers, Arabs, Jews and Black community). It is worth mentioning that the last versions of this festival reflect a global influence as is obvious in the masks and accessories that refer to different cultures.
This festival lasts several days, it contains music, dance, singing, theatre performance and carnival shows. Among the main characters in these performances, we find: the Jewish Rabbin and his wife Shmiha, the slave woman and the Haj (the pilgrim who has been to Macca).
The masks, which once focused on the mentioned characters, today embrace different cultures; for instance, there are masks representing American Indians, African Ethnicities and the Ku Klux Klan.
The roles of both slave woman and Jewish Shmiha in this festival are strictly performed by men. The performance is characterized by obscenity and immorality.
Many aspects of style work together to produce satire and laughter such as parody at the level of characters and language, the grotesque at the level of masks and intertextuality with texts belonging to other cultures brought by the mass media.
Kathryn Desplanque, Duke University, United Kingdom
Paul Sandby’s A New Dunciad against William Hogarth: An Exploration of Structure and Weighting in Eighteenth-Century Visual Satire
Between 1753 and 1754, the English watercolourist, Paul Sandby, produced a series of nine satires entitled A New Dunciad. These satires target both Hogarth himself and his 1753 aesthetic treatise, The Analysis of Beauty, by likening Hogarth to his pet pugs and to Herostratus, by accusing him of having copied his ideas from earlier continental aesthetic treatises, and by abusing his central aesthetic figure—the curvaceous line. Sandby is careful to forefront his criticism of these two targets in his visual rhetoric. However, a close study reveals a third, and much larger target hidden behind Sandby’s mockery: Hogarth’s anti-academic stance in the mounting debates regarding the establishment of a royally sanctioned English arts academy.
While Sandby would later become a founding member of England’s Royal Art Academy in 1768, Hogarth remained a constant critic of the continental model that England would adopt, favouring instead a subscription-based model embodied in his St. Martin’s Lane Academy.
This paper proposes to explore the way in which Sandby’s A New Dunciad forefronts and weights its three targets, and will question the decisions made in structuring and organizing this visual critique of Hogarth, The Analysis of Beauty, and Hogarth’s anti-academic stance. How does Sandby lampoon his three targets? Does he adopt different rhetorical registers and strategies in the visuals he employs? And why is it that Sandby conceals the target which carries the weight of the satire’s critical thrust behind these two other targets?
Lioba Maria Foit, University of Paderborn, Germany and Arnim Alex Seelig, McGill University, Canada
‘Let Me Entertain You’: Satire Satirizing Itself
In contemporary pop culture reference to one’s own iconic status is a frequent phenomenon. Artists such as Robbie Williams, Lady Gaga, or MGMT, for example, commonly draw on notions of stardom, the (female) body as a sex object, and the fakeness and reality of media-generated images. With this gesture they stand in the tradition of vaudeville like Moulin Rouge, which was primarily designed to entertain, but at the same time satirized the very ideas it represented and produced.
By doing so the artists paradoxically enhance the objects of their criticism as they performatively confirm them. Satire, due to its internal logic, supports this process because it draws attention and has a market value in itself. In this dynamic, satire and its objects (targets) become the same thing. Working exclusively in a referential way, the subversive as well as the affirmative capabilities of satire mutually include each other.
Our paper thus aims to explore the limits of satire’s critical abilities in the face of a symbolic system of constructed values.
Alana Gillespie, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Post-war planning, games and dancing: Satire from a neutral island
Irish writer Brian O’Nolan’s satirical journalism rejected authority of any kind; any person or institution claiming authoritative knowledge or expertise on a given subject was at risk of becoming a target in his daily newspaper column in the Irish Times. By adopting multiple critical perspectives and voices to address a single issue on different occasions, he took on many diverse targets, usually through comedic deconstruction of the speeches or writing of (Irish and otherwise) popular authors, politicians, church leaders, academics, civil servants, as well as the mores of the common people. His column satirised the very structure of contemporary cultural debate itself and in doing so, further stimulated it.
Irish neutrality during the Second World War and strict censorship meant that Irish cultural debate was still largely focused on national matters, particularly how the young nation was going to become politically and economically modern yet retain a strong traditional cultural identity. Through his juxtaposition of opposing and often extreme perspectives to the same issue in the compact format of the newspaper column, O’Nolan’s satirical journalism effectively both (re-)enacts and stimulates dialogue or debate on international issues, such as post-war economic planning and the atomic bomb, as well as national themes, such as the Irish language revival and the development of national institutions. This paper examines some of O’Nolan’s shifting attitudes to a number of recurring targets in his column during the 1940s in order to explore his representation of Ireland’s complex relationship to Europe during this pivotal decade, though pivotal for different reasons, in both European and Irish history.
Frans Grijzenhout, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Satire can be confronting, by questioning all kinds issues of politics, society and moral, often from a marginal position. By confronting one issue, the satirist turns his back to others, leaving the reader or spectator behind. In this paper I will investigate some of the spatial strategies in visual satire of the early modern period, taking a special interest in the rhetoric of the back.
Hakkı Gürkaş, Kennesaw State University, United States of America
Contesting Official Islam through Satire
Religion and religious signifiers have been ridiculed by irreligious and secular people in history, often from the protected position of popular culture. The anonymity of popular cultural production and the tolerance of the topsy-turvy world of the carnival provided a space for the secular criticism of religion its iconic signifiers. In Muslim societies satirical works aimed at cultural signifiers of Islam. This paper inquires into the satire of ulema, learned men in Islam, and the mosque in historical sources of Muslim popular culture. Mikhail Bakhtin notes that official culture, the culture of the ruling elite, is authoritative and serious. It aims to dominate and silence different voices. Similarly any official culture in Islamic societies perceives itself as the only respectable model and disregards unofficial cultures as invalid or harmful. The ressentiment of the popular classes originating from this official dismissal has been expressed in popular culture. Mosque and ulema as the most conspicuous signifiers of official Islam have been the subject of ambivalent popular attacks from Muslim folks. Historical accounts, miniatures, and stories record that Muslim folks have often represented the learned Muslim man mounting his donkey backwards, a very well known form of public humiliation. This paper will provide visual and textual evidence for similar tropes of Muslim ridicule of official Islam and discuss the migration of these tropes to Turco-European communities as well as the geographical and historical continuity in this little tradition.
Lotte Jensen, University of Nijmegen, Netherlands
Napoleon and Sarkozy: or, the cyclical character of satire
Caricatures of Nicolas Sarkozy often depict the incumbent President of France as the new Napoleon Bonaparte. According to Sarkozy’s critics, the similarities are striking: both men are of diminutive stature and believe that their nation should espouse megalomaniacal ambitions.
In this paper, I will compare contemporary satire of Sarkozy with historical satire of Napoleon. I will analyze a selection of newspaper cartoons and articles which portray Sarkozy as Napoleon, and discuss La conquête, a recent film about Sarkozy’s rise to power that refers repeatedly to Napoleon’s career. My historical case study consists of a series of Dutch satirical poems (by C. van Marle) and caricatures (by H. Fock) that ridicule Napoleon, published in 1812 and 1813 to criticize the French Emperor’s desire to conquer Russia.
I will argue that while different historical contexts play a key role in understanding such artists’ moral, social, and political intentions, the use of various techniques (contrast, exaggeration, and diminution) as well as the main topics of ridicule aimed at Sarkozy and Napoleon (national identity, promiscuity and cowardice) can be called cyclical.
Abdelghani El Khairat, Utrecht University, Netherlands
Makhzen Contested: Political Satire in Contemporary Morocco
The death of Hassan II on 23 July, 1999 marks a turning point in modern Moroccan history. Many people saw in his death an end to a much disputed period and the beginning of a new era. Hopes and aspirations were set on the new king to carry out real political reforms, vitalize the economy, and guarantee public liberties. In this context of aspiring ambitions, the Moroccan press witnessed considerable growth. The number of publications increased extensively along with exceptional journalistic articles and reports which addressed sensitive political, cultural and social matters. In this paper I will demonstrate how the contemporary Moroccan satirical press contributes in shifting political boundaries and initiating debate on political matters that had been firmly controlled under the former regime and thus serves to redefine the limits of the permissible in the Moroccan press. Central to my presentation will be the discussion of the role of satire during the pro-democracy protests of the February 20th Movement, a youth-lead movement inspired by the Arab Spring. Special interest will be given to the investigation of the various forms used during these protests.
So Hyung Kim, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Online Political Satire: Placing Politics in Affect and Entertainment
This paper attempts to link politics to affect and entertainment as a communicative mode to open up a conversation among participants. In short, entertainment-based forms of media, which appeal to a broader range of emotions such as shared humour, and generally have a wider public appeal, should be reconsidered as an important media genre to engage people with the public world; at least how their first contact with politics through parodic forms like political satire can lead to greater involvement with the focal issues.
In what was probably the most turbulent of political times in recent Korean history, online satire flourished around the controversy of the President Impeachment bill and general elections of 2004. With the widespread availability of high speed internet and the extended freedom of speech during that time, the period was ripe for all kinds of political commentary from wider sources than ever before, including amateur online satirists.
In this light, I will examine the logic of online political parodies and the communicative actions of DC Inside (http://www.dcinside.com) community members in relation to the political issues stated above.
Consequently, I will suggest that political satire, as a converged genre of the traditionally separated domains of news and entertainment, generates shared emotionality like humour produced through parodied texts, which forms a discursive space among the audience, and therefore contributes to connecting politics to the everyday. In so doing, I aim to critique the conventionally theorised relationships between entertainment/affect/lay thinking and news/reason/expert knowledge in terms of politics.
Fouad Laroui, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Voltaire, satire, islam: a triple misunderstanding
In 1993, Voltaire’s play,‘Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le prophète’ was censored in Geneva. Voltaire’s main targets, thinly disguised, were religious fanaticism in general, and Christian fanatics in particular. This is well knownand yet the play was censored because of its supposed anti-Islamic content. This poses intriguing questions as to how satire travels in an age where geography does not mean much anymore.
Terrence Lindvall, Virginia Wesleyan College, United States of America
Targeting that Son of a Bishop: Religious Satire, Ecclesiastical Figures, and the Prophetic Call to Sanctify
There exists within the religious community a self-monitoring and self-correcting vocation of the prophetic satirist. His or her calling is to keep religious leaders accountable. This paper argues that not only are there men and women who are called to mock as their religious vocation, but that there are also recognizable targets, namely those in power. Ecclesiastical leaders are most prone to wander from their spiritual and ethical callings, and just as kings had court jesters, they are given holy prophets who speak the Word of God to them in satirical ways. This prophetic satirical vocation ranges from the Hebrew prophets like Elijah through Christian saints like Jerome, humanists like Erasmus, Rabelais, and Sir Thomas More, Protestant reformers like Martin Luther, Augustan poets like Jonathan Swift, and other spies of God like Soren Kierkegaard, G. K. Chesterton, and C. S. Lewis. What this diverse group of voices has in common is a keen sense to detect corruption and a hearty (and often Juvenalian) sense of humor, blending them into an indictment of those they found falling short of the high standards of religious leadership. This topic fits within the perspectives of both Time and Target, as it traces the function of the religious satirist against religious leaders through time and identifies general patterns of reform-minded ridicule across the centuries.
Parvindokht Mashhoor, Islamic azad university of Neyshabur, Iran
Obaid-e Zakani, one of the most famous Persian satirist and his masterpiece, Mouse and Cat
Obaid-e Zakani, one of the most remarkable poets, satirists and social critics of Persia , lived in the 14th century (Timurid Period). He is noted for his satire and obscene verses, which are often political or bawdy. The famous humorous fable Masnavi Mush-O-Gorbeh (Mouse and Cat) is a political satire in which the characters of mouse and cat symbolize figures from the poet’s time. The cat stands for double-crossing men who simulate friendship with simple-hearted folk, represented by the mouse. The cat pretends to repent his sin of killing and eating mice. He shows false virtue and appears as a religious clergy man who would never do wrong and would never commit a sin. His aim, of course, is to cheat the naive mouse. The authors of this article believe that the effective factors for creating this symbolic satirical poem are: the religious atmosphere of the time, historical events of the time, and the dictatorship of the governor. They try to analyze and make clear the mentioned factors.
Magdalena Mateja, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Poland
President Lech Kaczynski as a target of satire: Socio-cultural norms about the taboo of death
From the seventies of XX century, Lech Kaczynski participated actively in political life: he was a member of the anticommunist opposition and an advisor to protesting workers. After democracy was restored in Poland, Lech Kaczynski occupied the highest posts including President of the republic. He died in 2010 in a plane crash near Smolensk.
Due to his shortness, family circumstances (e.g. the twin brother who was the dominant one) and the way of doing politics, Kaczynski was often a target of satire in Poland and abroad. Caricatures of Kaczynski’s were published among others in the press and on the Internet (cartoons, photo comics, photo montages); his behaviour and appearance were also the topic of satirical performances on stage and on television. Furthermore jokes about Lech Kaczynski’s were popular in direct interpersonal communication.
When the president died, the Polish mass media unbelievably changed their attitude towards him. Before the plane crashed Polish newspapers and TV stations were mostly critical, and after 10 April 2010, Lech Kaczynski was presented only in a positive way. However, a few days after a plane crash there were lots of satirical anecdotes concerning president on the Internet and in direct interpersonal communication.
The subject of the paper is:
1. Satirical articles about politicians in Poland – historical perspective.
2. Satire on the topic of Kaczynski before he died – analysis of motives, forms, means of expression, communication channels.
3. Caricatures and jokes about the politician after his death – analysis of themes, forms, means of expression, communication channels.
The purpose of the presentation is to examine how and to what extent the taboo of death may be the limit of political satire.
Mohamed Mifdal, Chouaib Doukkali University, Morocco
Cultural Flow: Intermedial Satire in Moroccan and Tunisian Rap Videos
My paper offers an historical overview of the emergence of certain forms of satire under particular historical conditions, and then moves on to examine the impact of the Arab Spring on the workings of satire vehicled by rap music videos in Morocco and Tunisia.
Rejected by mainstream culture, Rap music has had to be more concerned with its own survival as art, and has tended to eschew confrontation and seek acceptance, hence the limited scope of its satire (safe targets, posse-oriented values, absence of topicality, diluted critical power).
The study of a large number of rap videos produced during and after the 2011 uprising has shown that substantial change in the rap text and its visual support has occurred, making satire more transgressive, more topical, referential and politically engaged. The use of photographs, film, digital images, cartoons, animation, graffiti, and protest signs adds more effect to the biting satire of the political and social order, thus improving the conditions of its reception, especially on internet social networks, the new Bakhtinian marketplace. While the musical flow (the flow of the looped beat, the rap and samples) has remained the same, the rupture that breaks it (DJ scratching, sound effects) has changed substantially (euphoric laughter, choral chant). Intermedial satire has been energized and shifted to a position of dominance, moving from the margins of the semiosphere to its center, giving voice to the hopes and the fears of all the community, casting, at times, a shadow over the accomplished change.
Cynthia J. Miller, Emerson College, United States of America
Capitalist Satire on the Czech Frontier: Adapting the American West in Lemonade Joe (1964)
Oldrich Lipsky’s Czech Western Limonadovy Joe aneb Konsak Opera (Lemonade Joe, or a Horse Opera) is situated firmly in the American West – or so it would seem. The film is a comedy, with an unexpected twist of social commentary. On the surface, it presents a caricature of the Old West where heroes and villains appear as black-and-white stereotypes. However, as the narrative progresses, the characters resist such easy definition, and capitalist interests, rather than traditional Western values and ideals, rule the day. The paper proposed here, situated in the conference’s “Target” perspective, will present an in-depth look at this satirical Czech Western, examining the collisions of culture and ideology—homage and critique – as Central Europe meets the American cinematic frontier.
Set in the town of Stetson City, the film begins as a classic struggle of civilization against the wildness of the frontier, with the saloon at the heart of the conflict, where the forces of evil promote the “manly” drinking of whiskey, while the hero promotes abstinence, and Kolaloka limonada (a soft drink). The film’s satirical commentary on Western capitalism as the motivator for all actions, good or bad, is gradually unveiled as the narrative progresses, blurring the differences between white-clad hero Lemonade Joe and the film’s villains, the evil Badman brothers. Commerce – a far more lucrative concern than ideology – is at the heart of the saga, and ultimately becomes a meeting ground that unites them all, when it is revealed that the characters on both sides of the ideological divide are long-lost siblings – children of a billionaire industrialist. The film’s comic deus ex machina joins together not only the long-lost family, but the moral poles of the traditional Western – good and evil, civilization and wildness – under capitalism’s mantle of production and consumption. Only together do these former adversaries conquer the West.
Ivo Nieuwenhuis, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Enlightenment subverted: Pieter van Woensel’s Lantaarn as an example of the parasitic dimension of satire
Satirical works oftentimes tend to behave like parasites: they invade an existing medium or genre in order to subvert it, that is to mock the conventions and style of the medium that is used. Erasmus did so with the genre of the laudation in his Praise of folly in 1512, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart does it with the medium of the news show today. This parasitic behavior can be seen as a subtle game that is being played between the satirist and his audience. To make this game work, the satirist has to count on the audience’s knowledge of specific medial and genre conventions and on its ability to grasp the ironic intention with which he is using these conventions.
In this paper I want to demonstrate the working of this parasitic dimension of satire, using Pieter van Woensel’s Lantaarn (1792-1801) as my example. De Lantaarn is a political satire, published in five installments, that can be characterized as a media hybrid. It combines the generic conventions of an almanac, a textbook and a news periodical. In my presentation I will show how this amalgam of medial reworkings can be read as a subtle yet sharp ideological comment on the Enlightenment. Through the ironic use of some of the favorite media of the Enlightenment movement, so I claim, Van Woensel offers his audience a critical view on the pitfalls and limits of this movement, both when it comes to its intellectual content and with respect to its social pretensions.
Will Noonan, University of Burgundy, France
The “Danish cartoons” controversy in French and English: transnational and transdisciplinary perspectives
Since the publication of twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September 2005, the so-called “Danish cartoons” controversy has generated strong and widely varying reactions not only in the public sphere (in Europe, the Islamic world and elsewhere), but also amongst scholars of satire and humour from different national and disciplinary backgrounds. Drawing on the growing body of research published since 2005, and on the terms of what is, arguably, an increasingly reflective public debate surrounding the issue, this paper will attempt to account for the differences in the treatment of this controversy in the Francophone and Anglophone worlds.
While the representation of the cartoons controversy in (especially) the French satirical press and the majority of French critical scholarship on the topic have both tended to support the initial position of Jyllands-Posten, the factors influencing these positions are more complex than they may first appear. It is important to consider not only the relationship (in France) between a highly developed satirical media tradition and an official discourse of public secularism, but also the historical differences between Francophone and Anglophone perspectives on the role and public acceptability of satire, and on the alternative, more inclusive notion of “English” humour. In attempting to analyse these competing factors, it is likewise important to acknowledge the distinct and sometimes divergent methodological influences drawn from literary, image and cultural studies and from the social sciences. In this sense, the paper will address the interrelationships between all five perspectives identified in the call for papers: time, space, target, media, and rhetorics.
Joost Pollmann, Comedium & Stichting Beeldverhaal Nederland, Netherlands
The globalization of insult – Cartoons that sting today, may be dull tomorrow
Stereotypes and cliches are inseparable of propaganda. West and east fight each other with cartoons that endlessly repeat these stereotypes. Will they ever stop hurting?
Jo Poppleton , University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
A bull is a ludicrous jest: the fake legacy of Arbuthnot’s John Bull pamphlets
Modern historians have shown that the English John Bull figure crosses many political, cultural and historical boundaries. John Bull is a measure of public opinion; a debate about patriotism; a signifier of government monetary policy; a personification of British industry; and a figure who translates from the specific literary historical circumstances of its inception into later visual and commercial manifestations. Most of these arguments find the origins of the John Bull figure in John Arbuthnot’s 1712 pamphlets, and most of them label Arbuthnot’s pamphlets as satire. But while it is acknowledged that the figure of John Bull in Arbuthnot’s pamphlets was not transparently patriotic, the question of John Bull’s historical specificity and seeming translatability remains without discussion; and while the pamphlets are quite rightly labelled as satire, the genre is conceived of as if its ends and effects are stable and clear-cut. Literary critics argue that satire works to deflate and destabilize the genres it imitates, and they also show that reading fable in the early eighteenth century was a politically charged activity. Arbuthnot’s John Bull pamphlets borrow from a miscellany of literary and non-literary genres (fable, allegory, political treatise and legal contract, to name but a few). This paper will seek to show that the parasitic nature of these satires elicits particular but unpredictable effects in their readers, which further disclose the complexities of their intervention in the crisis over the Spanish Succession in 1712.
Yolanda Rodríguez Pérez, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Over the power of Money and the King of Spain’s son-in- law: Spanish Golden Age satiric models in 21st century internet satire
The greatest Spanish satirist lived in the Golden Age: Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas. His satirical poetry has become national common knowledge for most Spaniards. The power of his satire is such that it has been able to cross time borders and still serves in the 21st century as a model of inspiration for popular contemporary satire. A telling example is related to the recent scandal around the King of Spain’s son-in-law who was involved in a shameful financial embezzlement case. Through new medial forms like the internet, satirical non-canonical poems spread with the Royal son-in-law as a target. Some of the poems, written with a Golden-Age flair, are also accompanied by visual satirical images that also go back to well-known Golden Age paintings, for example by El Greco. Is there an explanation for this attraction to the Golden Age period? This particular case shows how far the reach of satire as a social phenomenon can extend. Although the strong and specific referentiality of satire is frequently mentioned as its weak point, it is interesting to see how certain ‘timeless’ examples of satire can function as sources of inspiration in another period. Another question that will be tackled is the objective of these contemporary poems. Can we speak of a shared morality among the satires or is it more ambiguous?
Omar Adam Sayfo, University of Debrecen, Hungary
Arab Sitcom Animations as Tools of Social and Political Criticism
Since the mid 2000s the animation industry in the Arab world has been booming. A good number of new local productions target not only children but adult audiences as well. These Arab mature cartoons are usually culturally adapted versions of American sitcom animations such as The Simpsons and South Park. Even some of the producers and idea-owners acknowledge that their primary inspirations were American sitcom animations.
The heroes of Arab mature animations tend to be stereotyped characters and dysfunctional families from various Arab countries speaking a local dialect and set in a local environment. While the stories and majority of jokes can be appreciated by all viewers, one has to be familiar with the local affairs of the cartoon’s country of origin in order to understand the more subtle nuances of the jokes.
The first well-known Arab mature animation was Freej (Neighbourhood), which premiered during Ramadan of 2006 on Sama Dubai. Following the success of Freej across the Arab world, programmers from other Arab countries decided to create their own animations as well. Now Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi-Arabia have their own “national” animations characterized by hyper-reflexivity and intertextuality with local popular culture containing up to date satirical reflections of public life and even political affairs.
Janna Schoenberger, Amsterdam University College, Netherlands
Ludic Conceptualism: Bas Jan Ader, a Dutchman Playing Abroad
According to cultural historian Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938), play is serious. Following Huizinga’s ideas, I propose the term Ludic Conceptualism to describe the art that flourished in the Netherlands from 1959 to 1975. Unlike the more severe strands of conceptualism developed in New York and the United Kingdom, play was central to its Dutch incarnation. In this paper I will show how Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader’s fixation on his identity, as staged through jokes based on national stereotypes, is key in understanding his art. While a great deal of the humor is obvious in Ader’s work, there has been no serious inquiry into his comedic practice. In this paper I will position Ader within the framework of post-war humorous conceptual art prevalent both in the Netherlands and California, locales in which Ader had lived and studied. Using theories of humor and identity I will demonstrate how Ader’s jokes are closely tied to social contexts on both sides of the Atlantic, environments relevant to the artist’s development in the course of his short career. In a close examination of Ader’s work I will show that the artist’s blurred identity as seen in his use of humor is, in fact, a central feature of his art.
Roberto Sirvent, Hope International University, United States of America
Why the Church Needs Satire: The Onion’s Niebuhrian Attack on Religious Dogma
This paper explores how, when it comes to matters of faith, the American satirical news organization The Onion intriguingly mirrors the critique leveled by 20th century theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) against the Protestant Church. It is not, as many commentators suggest, a critique of religion. Rather, it is primarily a critique of religious dogma and moral certitude. Two particular parallels between Niebuhr and The Onion are examined. First, Niebuhr accuses both the theological right and left of being naïve, or ‘foolish’, in matters of faith. Conservative evangelicals, for example, are naïve to think that social justice can be achieved by merely converting more people or reading the Bible (The Onion captures this sentiment with two noteworthy headlines: “Local Pastor Solves Problem by Quoting Scripture” and “Poverty-Stricken Africans Receive Desperately Needed Bibles”). Second, The Onion and Niebuhr target political and religious leaders claiming divine sanction or justification for their actions. (e.g. “God Answers Prayers of Paralyzed Little Boy: No, Says God” and “God Urges Rick Perry Not to Run for President”). Many of these claims are grounded in a supposedly objective reading of a sacred religious text (e.g. the Bible), tradition, or perceived divine revelation.
According to Niebuhr, however, we are all finite and historically conditioned beings. This realization should therefore lead religious believers towards a more humble engagement with their sacred texts and traditions, keeping in mind that neither the author nor the reader exists above history, and they may privilege neither with a uniquely unambiguous window on the divine.
Alex Trott, University of London, United Kingdom
Hydropathe Caricature: Humour, satire and the denial of political cause in Parisian bohemian art
Humour and satire defined the art of the Hydropathe movement in bohemian Paris of the early Third Republic. As anti-clericals, its artists supported Republican policy of secularisation. Instead of rallying support for modern views free from tyrannical Catholic traditions, their club created an environment through which Parisian intellectuals could engage in the way of life that Republican liberties made possible.
They welcomed professional artists and amateurs to contribute poetry, music, song, and philosophy. But it was with caricature that they presented themselves in a coherent body of work. The front cover of their journal, l’Hydropathe was dedicated to portraits of its contributors, projecting a playful image of their collective that was both eye-catching and representative of their satirical art.
This paper explores the use of caricature as a medium of self-satire by the little-known hydropathe art movement. I look at the purpose and consequences of developing an art for the liberal republican age with a medium designed for mass communication.
L’Hydropathe is understood by commentators as a simple marketing tool for the ambitious artists. For me this recognition is representative of the comparable development of contemporary advertising in our digital age. If here the arts and marketing adopt the same media and devices, how are the two practices separated? Do the hydropathes represent a subversive critique of mass communication? Or do they comply with the conditions that simplify artistic communication for the benefit of reaching a wider audience?
Reijo Virtanen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
Satire on religion – blasphemy, criticism, or noteworthy proposal for improvement
In modern times, we have typically considered satire in the same way as Chris Baldick in his dictionary, as “a mode of writing that exposes the failings of individuals, institutions, or societies to ridicule and scorn”. Satire is thought to be purely negative, or critical, or aggressive while contesting its targets. When talking about negative or bitter satire we often refer to Juvenal, Jonathan Swift, or Mark Twain. Sometimes a bitter satire may lead to almost blasphemous sarcasm or irony, as in Twain’s Letters from the Earth.
But in the history of literature, you can also find another mode of satire, especially in the menippean tradition. This is an ambivalent mode, which can also be called carnivalistic mode according to Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory. For example, in ambivalent satire the writer may create parodic or ironical plots to make religious institutions or individuals targets of laughter or objects of ridicule. The typical method is to reveal how theory and practice, ideals and acts, illusions and reality in the life of a person or an institution are in severe conflict with each other. Like in Boccaccio’s Decameron, the sexual life of a priest or a nun is in conflict with his/her religious or moral views. Ambivalent satire is not only negative in its attitude but also positive, simultaneously. It degrades and partly destroys the target by the methods of irony, parody and the grotesque, but it also may bring new life, renovation, or rebirth for the target. This is how satire works in, for example, Arto Paasilinna’s book Heaven help us, a menippean satire from Finland. In this book an ordinary working man takes over command of Christian religion, by replacing God who is suffering from severe burnout.