ISIS parodies: insensitive or way to defeat group’s influence?
Making fun of something that is frightening and intimidating severely diminishes its ability to exert power and influence over those it seeks to subjugate.
For this reason alone, mocking ISIS should be considered something of a moral duty, as well as a natural response to the absurdity of their ideology. ISIS parodying should be unflinching, robust and happening on a much wider scale.
The internet is awash with simple but hilarious videos that parody the fanatical terror group. Many consist of audio that is taken from their numerous propaganda videos and added to innocuous YouTube footage of broken washing machines going haywire and cats falling into bathtubs.
Within the space of a thirty-second video, the sinister chanting that accompanies footage of ISIS, designed to instil fear in their enemies, has been reduced to something quite benign and utterly ridiculous.
The American comedy show Saturday Night Live (SNL) has also attempted its own parodying of ISIS. One sketch depicted a battalion of ISIS fighters looking for investment on Shark Tank, the American equivalent of Dragon’s Den.
ISIS are also lampooned in another SNL skit which also pokes fun at a well-known American car advertisement depicting a man dropping his daughter at the airport where she is to join the American military.
In the parody, she is instead met by pick-up trucks draped in black flags and laden with bearded men carrying automatic weapons as she tells her father: “Don’t worry Dad, it’s only ISIS.”
This particular sketch caused outrage, with many suggesting that it is inappropriate to make jokes about a group responsible for such committing such heinous acts.
Yet the parody is aimed explicitly at the perpetrators and not the victims. It pokes fun and ridicules those who are beheading aid workers, enslaving women and pushing homosexuals from buildings and in no way makes light of the victims or the actions themselves
Some of the most humorous and effective ridiculing of the fanatical terror group has come from those whom ISIS threatens the most: their fellow Muslims.
A Kurdish television station has broadcast a hilarious music video in which ISIS buffoons strum AK47s like guitars, play with toy skulls and prance around with plastic swords, singing unflattering lyrics about being “brainless and unwashed”.
The Kurdish, a peaceful, democratic and secular Muslim population, have been fighting bravely against ISIS in an effort to halt their advances, making huge personal sacrifices in the process.
They fight not only to protect their homeland in northern Iraq from ISIS barbarity but also on behalf of other minorities which the terror group seeks to enslave or exterminate, whilst receiving very limited support from a largely indifferent West. If anybody has earned the right to mock and ridicule ISIS, it is the Kurds.
We would do well to follow their example more vigorously. Authoritarians and despots the world over despise being laughed at. They see humour as the ultimate threat to their oppressive ideologies as free will is easily distinguishable in the people’s power to laugh and express themselves.
We shouldn’t pretend that laughing at ISIS will help to defeat them or prevent their depraved ideology from spreading, but using comedy to belittle ISIS does plenty do reduce the effectiveness of their propaganda. Humour is one of the most subtle but successful forms of passive resistance.