By Wil Forbis
know! I'll find five guys who look
exactly like me and send them out as decoys!"
art by D.
Concept by J. Saleeby
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
straight to hell aren’t I?