Honestly, I thought long and hard about that title… because it’s semi racist – but it actually really epitomises the nature of the post in question.
The feedback to my decision to make references to making light about the death of Michael Jackson was not mixed. Most people don’t like the idea at laughing at death. I’m of the opinion that “where oh death is your victory, where oh death is your sting” (Corinthians 15:55) is essentially a mockery of death – and once death and sin (which crops up in verse 57) have been dealt with you are free to laugh at it.
Perhaps laughing at people who presumably haven’t dealt with sin isn’t the most sensitive thing to do.
But I digress – the reason for this post – is that I’m wondering about satire and death, and satire and death as “incisive social commentary” – particularly after viewing this Twitter account purportedly from a “Starving African Child” (obviously it’s not really from a starving African child).
It seems to tread close to where the Chaser’s infamous sketch dared to tread – though perhaps not quite so confrontationally, and yet it is as confronting as a World Vision ad – which uses pathos for persuasion rather than humour. Both are tools of persuasion – and yet we frown on one and not the other.
The sense of outrage surrounding the Chaser sketch seemed to be that it preyed on the vulnerable for laughs (while making some sort of point – perhaps their problem was with clarity in terms of the target – presumably cathartic middle class philanthropy… I’m really not sure what their point was), while World Vision et al are drawing attention to the plight of children. Is it wrong to use satire to do this? Is it only wrong when the target isn’t clear? Is it inherently wrong to satirise the vulnerable in order to draw the intended response from those in power?