Humor as Crisis Management

Spain’s economic and political crisis has gotten so bad that even the horsemen of the apocalypse are out of work. And they ought to be in demand. A recent comic in the delightful satirical magazine Mongolia depicts a caped skeleton astride a horse and wielding a flimsy trident. He is spoiling for a city to “destroy”. But a portly, hatted citizen stops him on way to inform him he’s arrived too late. “The bank has already done the job for you,” says the citizen. Late to his own party, the exasperated harbinger of doom rides off under the punch line: “The horsemen of the apocalypse remain unemployed”. The Spaniards are increasingly turning to humor not only to help cope with the dark economic forecasts, but also to make sense of how this grim state of affairs has come to pass. Most trenchant critiques of present political deadlock rely on humor to make citizens confront roots of current malaise. Mongolia, which hit newsstands in March, already has a circulation of 40,000 and a rapidly growing subscriber base. Editors define their readers not by age or political inclination, but according to “disenchantment.” “Our readers are enraged, idealistic and hungry for change,” one told me Tuesday in their makeshift office on Pilar de Zaragoza Street, in a down-to-earth enclave tucked away in upscale Madrid neighborhood of Salamanca. Across town, in the bohemian neighborhood of Lavapiés, at a bar called “El fin del mundo”, I tracked down a brand new activist group cum performance troupe known as Gila, which has enlisted an array of indignados looking to salt their activism with comic relief. Gila requested total anonymity, and asked I not even reveal basic information about group’s members because, it maintained, “anyone and everyone who shares group’s sensibility is Gila.” The group is named for the Spanish comedian Miguel Gila, whose pioneering black humor in a series of iconic 1950’s monologues exposed absurdities of Spanish life after the Civil War. The group strives to revive that “mixture of humor and crisis” that characterized the postwar years. Gila stages street-bound “interventions,” as it calls them. In one, the group pilloried police brutality at public demonstrations by brandishing porras, pastries that resemble police batons. Other actions have mocked banks executing foreclosures. During German chancellor Merkel’s recent visit to Madrid, Gila poked fun at obsequious reception mounted by Spanish politicians. One of Gila’s slogans is: “Our vengeance is to be happy” (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to Humor as Crisis Management

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: My own experience of living 14 years in Buenos Aires (1996-2010) attests the enduring power of humor to overcome social crisis. In December 19, 2001 the exchange rate 1 dollar = 1 peso exploded violently in the streets of Buenos Aires. A huge and angry crowd fought the riot police across from the Casa Rosada while Pres Fernando de la Rua fled the official residence by helicopter. Many people got killed and the country suffered the worst financial crisis in history. During the dark days, weeks and months that followed, HUMOR was the only escape from a dire social reality. I remember a spoof of The Big Brother played on TV by actors on the role of famous politicians, including Cristina Kirchner.

    In retrospect, the best political humor that I’ve seen in my life was played over in a media during those hard days.

    Argentinians survived the debacle while the economy prospered for a few years. However, the way Cristina Kirchner is managing the economy today, very soon political humor will be back in Buenos Aires. Argentina is the only country in the world today in which the dollar is a scarce commodity. Only humor can keep Argentinians going with Cristina in power.


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