Shock and Awe (and a Couple of Giant Lizards Thrown in for Good Measure!)
By Wil Forbis
"I know! I'll find five guys who look
exactly like me and send them out as decoys!"
Cartoon art by D. Gordan.
Concept by J. Saleeby
Moments after I uploaded to my web log a picture of two Godzilla monsters pillaging a (Baghdad-like) metropolitan city entitled "PHASE TWO OF SHOCK AND AWE CAMPAIGN" I had to ask myself whether I was going too far. The photo was really just a culmination of gags I'd made at the expense of the Iraqi people - decent chaps all - who were suffering under the onslaught of American missiles that rained down from the skies. As the Iraqis watched, the lives of their neighbors were lost, their property destroyed and their infrastructure battered. And here I was, safe in the confines of my high tech apartment, gently being fanned by a gaggle of young Tahitian boys, while making fun of the Iraqi people's plight. Here I was taking a very real misery, and relegating it to the world of science fiction monster movies. (Heh.) Here I was, refusing to seriously consider the distress of... heh, sorry... heh, heh....uh oh....
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA... Guffaw... chuckle.
Sorry 'bout that, but that picture still kills me every time I think about it.
I'm certainly not blind to the moral conundrums that such a jest raise. After all, this is a very serious time for this country, for Iraq and for the world. It is true that I strongly defended black humor in times of human tragedy after the 9/11 attacks, but shouldn't I draw the line somewhere? Can I simply spout one twisted barb after another, without expecting some form of Karmic retribution in return? Does my willingness to create laughs at the expense of others have no limits?
Actually, it does. In the mid nineties I produced a print zine called “Johnny Fascism.” Embedded in the pages of the first (and only) issue were a series of phony, Mad Magazine adverts, selling numerous absurdist products like the “Sucide-O-Matic Death Machine” or a instructional booklet entitled, “Bestiality for Beginners.” But I drew the line at including a plug for “Hitler Brand Oven Cleaner - The Cleaning Solution for the Ovens of Auschwitz.” Even with my tolerance for tasteless humor, there was just something about it that made me feel the way one feels after having sex with a yak* – like you need to shower with piranhas to get clean.
(*Here’s another area where I draw the line. I originally wrote the above sentence as “…but there was just something about it that made me feel the way one feels after having sex with their ten year old sister, etc…” See, I’m not such a baddie!)
I don’t claim to understand the warped sense of priorities that drive my sense of humor, but somehow I decided that while “Hitler Brand Oven Cleaner” crossed the line, atomic lizard creatures destroying Baghdad did not. But then I began to ruminate on the political implications of the Godzilla photo. Was I now applauding a war that weeks earlier I had come out against? Well, no. I still think the case was never made that Iraq was enough of a threat to justify military action. In fact, I saw a bit of an anti-military edge in the “Shock and Awe” gag. The photo made the argument that releasing a pair of reptilian monsters on Baghdad wasn’t that far removed from some of the excessive ballistic strategies Rummy and Co had been considering.
That said, I can certainly see how some could view the “Shock and Awe” post as having a pro-war sentiment. And I understand that some folks could, political viewpoints aside, simply find the whole thing distasteful – a mockery of real and omnipresent human suffering. Hell, even pro-war constituents could argue that the idea of releasing Godzilla creatures on Iraq would simply be poor strategy – how could we be sure they would remain in our control. (Unless we developed some sort of Godzilla mind control device. Hmmmm…..) And the more I thought about it, I realized that these concerns were legitimate. Maybe I had gone too far. Maybe it was time to reel myself in. Maybe I needed to finally mature beyond the intellectual age of a joy-buzzer wielding teenager and stop presenting such callow and vicious gaggery to the public.
And then I got an email from little Umar.
A precocious lad of ten, whose family was planted squarely in Baghdad, he wrote: Wil, I know that you have begun to question the role your humor plays in the grand scheme of the universe. I know you have begun to doubt the sword of jest you wave frenetically about you. But I must tell you of a day, several years ago, when one of my family members brought up your writings on an Internet connection he had pertained via a construct of old tuna fish cans and chewing gum. (In Iraq, we’re big fans of MacGyver!) As we sat there, mired in the twin devastations of U.N. Sanctions and an enraged tyrant, it was your raw hilarity that both entertained and inspired us. Yo ur callow wit made us laugh, but it was your complete disregard for all authority that caused some of the men of our town to find the courage to form a small rebellion that rose up and challenged Saddam. He quickly crushed them, then shredded them in his giant shredding machines and served them back to their own families with a mushroom cream sauce (too thin!) but it was the thought that counted. Keep it up!
I’m going straight to hell aren’t I?
Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.