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Humour helps to heal

By NotZen in Culture
Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 07:31:42 PM EST
Tags: Humour (all tags)

I read the Onion today and was fairly astounded to find that it contained pretty much the most insightful writing I'd seen on the Attack on America.

Read on to see a few examples of how humour can strike directly to the centre of a situation.

Whether it's the instant US reaction to the attack:
WASHINGTON, DC--In a televised address to the American people Tuesday, a determined President Bush vowed that the U.S. would defeat "whoever exactly it is we're at war with here."

or the fact that it looked just like an action movie:
The collective sense of outrage, helplessness, and desperation felt by Americans is beyond comprehension. And it will be years before the full ramifications of the events of Sept. 11 become clear. But one thing is clear: No Austrian bodybuilder, gripping Uzis and striding shirtless through the debris, will save us and make it all better. Shocked and speechless, we are all still waiting for the end credits to roll. They aren't going to.

Or the fact that it still feels hard to feel the same:
AUSTIN, TX-- According to Generation X sources, the recent attack on America may have rendered cynicism and irony permanently obsolete. "Remember the day after the attack, when all the senators were singing 'God Bless America,' arm-in-arm?" asked Dave Holt, 29. "Normally, I'd make some sarcastic wisecrack about something like that. But this time, I was deeply moved." Added Holt: "This earnestness can't last forever. Can it?"

Or in a particularly moving story, that sums up the messed up religious nature of the attackers:
"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore--ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

It appears that the best way to make a point about the situation is to point out the ridiculousness of the situation. Nothing else I read about the events touched me in the same way as that last story did.


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What's the best way to get to the heart of an situation?
o Humour 29%
o Dramatisation 0%
o Straightforward presentation of the bare facts 20%
o Head to Head Debates 2%
o Usenet style Free for All 8%
o Kuro5hin Style Moderated Free for All 10%
o Fish at Dawn 26%

Votes: 67
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Onion
o reaction to the attack
o looked just like an action movie
o particular ly moving story
o Also by NotZen

Display: Sort:
Humour helps to heal | 40 comments (30 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
Link to the Onion (2.66 / 6) (#8)
by TheophileEscargot on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 12:12:29 PM EST

The Onion is http://www.theonion.com in case anyone doesn't know.

Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

k5 on TV! (3.00 / 6) (#10)
by ucblockhead on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:10:39 PM EST

Hey, it looks like some of the k5 WTC stories are on public access at 10:30!

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

You missed the most important one! (2.60 / 5) (#12)
by gromgull on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:12:04 PM EST

"Former president George Bush Sr. issued an apology to his son Monday for advocating the CIA's mid-'80s funding of Osama bin Laden, who at the time was resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. "I'm sorry, son," Bush told President George W. Bush. "We thought it was a good idea at the time because he was part of a group fighting communism in Central Asia. We called them 'freedom fighters' back then. I know it sounds weird. You sort of had to be there." Bush is still deliberating over whether to tell his son about the whole supporting-Saddam Hussein-against-Iran thing."

If I had my way I'd have all of you shot

dubya produces his own satire (2.00 / 2) (#32)
by superflex on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 03:41:17 PM EST

"Whether these people are brought to justice, or justice is brought to them, justice will be done."

- dubya

Who is writing your speeches these days, George? Your drunken daughters?

[ Parent ]

At first.. (none / 0) (#33)
by dice on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 06:41:37 PM EST

The first time I heard that it made no sense. Then I thought about it for 10 seconds.

"Whether these people are brought to justice"
   This is quite obviously bring people to trial. How hard.

"or justice is brought to them"
   And this is what's looking like the current action. Military action.

This has been "Fun with Presidential Speeches with dice".

[ Parent ]
dubya (none / 0) (#40)
by superflex on Mon Oct 01, 2001 at 10:02:29 AM EST

oh, i agree with the interpretation. from an entirely practical point of view, what he said makes sense. i was referring more to the aesthetic value of the quote. there are probably many other ways of saying the same thing that don't sound quite as silly as that.

[ Parent ]
very good (4.00 / 7) (#14)
by Arkady on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:55:50 PM EST

Their Talking To Your Child About The WTC Attack is probably the best summary of the lead-up to this level of attack on the U.S. in any media source. Clear and concise, it's incredibly funny that The Onion would run a straightforward background piece that wallops anything in the serious press.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The Onion (3.00 / 4) (#16)
by ucblockhead on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 03:25:26 PM EST

I've been impressed by their capability of making serious points in the past.

Another thing that deserves quoting is the last couple of lines in the Life turns into a Bruckheimer movie article:

But one thing is clear: No Austrian bodybuilder, gripping Uzis and striding shirtless through the debris, will save us and make it all better. Shocked and speechless, we are all still waiting for the end credits to roll. They aren't going to.
The article is "humor", and it is funny, but it is hard to read that without thinking real hard about what sort of thing we find "escapist" in the movies.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Humour (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by pallex on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:04:25 AM EST

is supposed to make you think. Its only becuase most comedy is of such low quality that people think otherwise.
As H.L. Mencken pithily observed, the purpose of satire is 'To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'.

[ Parent ]
-1 from me (1.05 / 18) (#15)
by gridwerk on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 03:16:15 PM EST

Is this a story or a Diary entry? How about a link to the onion since that is where you lifted all the "humor". What Exactly is the point of this article, other then it sounds like you expalining the articles to a friend. How does humor help heal? That was the title of this so called story. The sad thing is this will probably be voted FP. Yeah I know this should of been editoral and not a topical comment, But I didn't want my wisdom to be lost <g>

Editorial Comments (4.75 / 4) (#23)
by Dlugar on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:33:55 PM EST

Editorial comments are never lost--just set it in your preferences, or select "All Comments" at the top of the page. However, I consider an editorial comment posted as a topical comment for the reason that it won't disappear is a very good reason for it to disappear. Good bye.


[ Parent ]
Why I like "comedy" news... (3.83 / 6) (#17)
by rebelcool on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 04:44:44 PM EST

Theres usually far more truth and honesty in them than the "real" news. Take the Daily Show for instance...most of their stories are based on real life people and events, and their commentary is usually quite accurate.

Because they are "comedy" they can pass off this usually accurate commentary because the big networks are afraid of offending someone.

The comedy news sources dont have to be afraid of offending someone, because thats their JOB.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Not showing up? (3.00 / 4) (#18)
by driph on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 05:53:39 PM EST

Strangely, the regular Onion link(I added it to the story, btw) now brings back nothing but the top bar of the page. However, the stories are still available on mobile.theonion.com, minus the pretty pictures and layout. Odd.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
never mind, move along, move along.. (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by driph on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 06:06:28 PM EST

..someone over there must've read my comment, 'cause it's working fine again now. Maybe they are getting slammed today with everyone and her brother checking out The Onion's take on events.
Oh, and threw in the direct links for those that read this story next week once the new issue is up.

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
[ Parent ]
The Guardian agrees (3.83 / 6) (#20)
by Arkady on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 03:45:26 PM EST

The Guardian agrees on this one. Today's Guardian has an article titled Onion Appeal (lame joke) praising The Onion's coverage:

Perhaps because the world's top satirical publication never has to sit on the number 24, their latest issue - which appeared on the web yesterday - has said what I believe many of us have only been able to think. Under a special Onion report entitled Holy Fucking Shit - Attack on America, the paper's anonymous writers discuss the issues of the past two weeks with characteristic sharpness.

I'm actually quite surprised to see this, though I probably shouldn't be since The Guardian's coverage has been pretty good for a normal newspaper. It'd be pretty surprising to see a U.S. newspaper express the same sentiment, though. ;-)


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

If I just could console God (4.20 / 5) (#21)
by mami on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:14:00 PM EST

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.

God understood he has found a bug in his creation he can't fix. Who of you wouldn't weep if you were him ?

Yeah, free will ... (4.66 / 3) (#22)
by Dlugar on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 09:29:36 PM EST

The pesky bug called Free Will, except he insists "it's a feature, not a bug!" He could fix it, problem is he doesn't want to. Sort of like when your kids won't clean their room ... you know you could clean it yourself, but what's important is that they learn to clean it on their own.

The depressing thing must be to look down and notice how miserably few have actually "learned to do the right thing on their own," so to speak.


[ Parent ]
Isn't that a question (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by mami on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 09:52:55 AM EST

to know what the right thing is ? I have no problem with the feature of "free will", but how about the feature of "not knowing what the right thing is" ? I just wished the latter would be a "patchable" bug. It seems with each patch introduced we introduce another bug, so the never ending story. I think God has his reasons to weep...

[ Parent ]
Well, (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by Dlugar on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:37:06 PM EST

"Love one another" is basically the same thing that every single darn world religion teaches. Or at least would teach, if you looked at the center of the doctrine. Problem is, us dumb humans keep getting caught up in the little tiny things of "No! My holy book is the only right one!" and "But aren't we supposed to kill the unbelievers? How does that fit in with 'love one another'?" and so on and so forth.

As you said, God has many reasons to weep. Every time he sends someone down with that message, people always seem to take it and twist it some other way, or simply get too pedantic about it. I'm sure God would be pretty happy if we used the death penalty, but loved and cared about the people around us. Instead, we end up arguing about the death penalty and hating and ignoring the people we come in contact with every day.

Sad world. Must be tough to be God.


[ Parent ]
If God is perfection... (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by thePositron on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:28:03 PM EST

If God is perfection...
Would God be sad or just overlook the seeming ignorance of humanity?

These are just some thoughts on the possible nature of God.

I fear that this may sound funny but oh well. These are thoughts that have dawned on me in some of the most difficult moments of my laugh - I mean life; poverty, the death of one of my dearest loved ones, excrutiating physical and emotional pain and severe depression...

I often contemplate my life and it's
vicissitudes and how I respond to them in ways that are often times sad or angry and deadly serious and I wonder if God just sees the pettiness of it all and then laughs. That this god, being an "it" more than a person, a reflection of what I hold to be the highest and most valuable principles in my mind, laughs not the laugh of derision but a joyful hope and understanding that this too shall pass.

Because all of my difficulties, the pain of others, the problems of mankind pass as quickly as they arrive.

This, then causes me to laugh and all frustration and sadness seems to melt away into the immense nature and history of the universe and what I presume would be the infinite nature of God.

Is this perverse? That I dwell not in sadness long but take up the light of my principles in my mind and spread the antidote to fear, hate and sadness - laughter, love and joy? That rather than give into cynicism I hold out for faith and trust in the goodness that is in each person?
That after seeing the seeming absurdities of destruction I am compelled to create again? That I am impelled to understand that which led to the destruction in the first place. To understand the origin and end?

I often contemplate myself and humanity as a piece of dust on a speck in an ocean of energy and space and a panoply of dimensions but still part of it all - not separate from it. One with it but expressing it uniquely.

I don't know.
but it causes me to laugh.

[ Parent ]
Nope. (5.00 / 2) (#36)
by Dlugar on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 01:05:51 AM EST

Not the God I believe in, anyway. [And I do believe in God, if you couldn't tell from my previous posts.] I think he's definitely sad. Or moved with compassion. Whichever you prefer.

God is infinite, but infinite in compassion, not in discompassion. He understands your pains and your griefs and your sorrows, and rejoices in your laughter, love, and joy. You're a dust speck in an ocean, true, but God cares about you so much that he listens to every laugh.

No, I don't think you're perverse. I think I'm the perverse one, for instead of taking the love and hope that's so freely given me, I keep the cynicism. Instead of faith and trust and goodness, I tend to sit, of my own free will, in my own sadness.

Ah, but I've blathered on long enough about such philosophic things. Feel free to email me if you feel like talking about it in any further detail ;-)


[ Parent ]
Well, no (none / 0) (#35)
by mami on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 08:41:56 PM EST

I'm sure God would be pretty happy if we used the death penalty, but loved and cared about the people around us.

Weep, weep, why do you think God would be happy with your execution cravings ? I think he would get another "Fuck those darn humans anger outburst." Don't forget, he has already designed us to die on his terms, I guees we don't need to help him in that with our pityful executions. Don't mess with his design. It works without our intervention quite well.

[ Parent ]

Actually, (none / 0) (#37)
by Dlugar on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 01:12:38 AM EST

I meant relatively speaking. I'm sure he'd much rather us be nice to each other and use the death penalty, than not use the death penalty and not be nice to each other. I'm sure he'd be a lot happier if everyone were perfect and nobody committed any crimes so there wasn't even a reason for the death penalty. Not that I'm particularly for it or against it, as you seem to imply. *shrug* I just don't think it's the #1 item on his list of things to worry about.


[ Parent ]
Evil Gerald (3.83 / 6) (#24)
by ardeel on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 10:06:09 PM EST

Here's another satirical website. Not in the same league - it started out as a college stunt, as far as I know. Or in the same country: it's Irish. The name is a skit on Dublin's only (hence "best") evening paper, the "Evening Herald", which blatantly pilfers its stories from the morning's tabloids and is normally only bought for its small ads.
I must admit that I didn't find the writing there on the events of September 11 funny at all, initially but I appreciate it better now. The "time-line" has its moments (by the way, Bertie Ahern is the Irish Prime Minister, or Taoiseach) and would you believe I actually saw people stocking up for the dry day?
Another story there looks like it must be total fiction but it's true (although blown up to farcical proportions). My favourite bit is the word Sinn Fein used ("allegedly" - this is satire!) to describe the protesters...

This kind of satire is so important to... (3.80 / 5) (#25)
by SIGFPE on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 10:45:36 PM EST

...a functioning democracy. This is much more important than its role in healing. That's why the laws of many countries make special provisions to allow satire to do things that other forms of expression can't (eg. copyright violation). Whoever's behind The Onion - keep up the good work!
my two faves: (2.33 / 6) (#26)
by crayz on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 10:50:05 PM EST

Not the most intellectual, but the little blub saying:

"Jerry Falwell: Is That Guy A Dick Or What?"

I think anyone who heard his statements last week can give a big affirmative to that.

And secondly, the "Making America Safer" infographic: "Americans to wear T-shirts bearing likeness of Osama bin Laden with phrase, 'Fuck You, Asshole,' so if bin Laden sees one, he'll know he's an asshole and can get fucked"

Like a lot of other people in the country, let me just say that I *want* one of those t-shirts!

Nuke 'Em (3.83 / 6) (#27)
by Shalom on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:45:24 AM EST

What Do You Think? generally one of my favorite features) summed up my feelings with wonderful irony and insight:
"Do we have nukes that can kill just six or seven people? Because I kinda want to nuke those bastards if it's at all practical."

Not surprising (3.50 / 4) (#30)
by byoon on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 01:07:30 PM EST

I really enjoyed this week's Onion although I really wasn't surprised at the high quality of the stories and headlines. They've always been very good at cutting to the heart of whatever big issue is at hand. I remember back during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal they avoided covering it almost completely except for one story titled "Lewinsky ordered to re-fellate President on Senate floor". That spoke directly to the prurient interest that all Americans and especially their representatives had in the issue.

Anyway, this week's Onion was great from top to bottom, from the "President urges calm, restraint among nation's ballad singers" to "Hijackers surprised to find selves in hell". That one was great too, for the text, especially if you're an old school AD&D geek who loved all the demons and devils.

"I'm a going to break you down into the little cubes." -Picasso
Amen for humor (and women) (none / 0) (#38)
by baptiste on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 10:48:53 PM EST

Got this via email - good to laugh again:

The President has asked that we unite for a common cause.

Since the hard line/fanatic Islamic people cannot stand nudity and consider it a sin to see a naked woman who is not their wife, tonight at 7:00 all women should run out of their house naked to help weed out the terrorists.

The United States appreciates your efforts, and applauds you.

God bless America.

Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

there's more out there (3.00 / 1) (#39)
by clownfighter on Sun Sep 30, 2001 at 01:48:17 PM EST

Don't forget the much underrated Daily Sedative-
Fortunately, comedy visionaries Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have come to save the day. Falwell put forward his version of what happened that fateful morning, and not an eye in the house is dry from weeping with laughter.
Falwell claims he has been exercising his vision since the beginning. "Yeah, most people don't realize it," he said in an interview with Dan Rather, "but the 700 club, my literally read Bible platform, has been a comedy show all along."

Humour helps to heal | 40 comments (30 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden)
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