Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Jan Böhmermann, Blasphemer

Don't get me wrong--I love the guy and at our house we've got "Be Deutsch" playing on continual loop. The current uproar is the best way in the world to get German schoolchildren to memorize Böhmermann's hilariously crude lyrics about a certain thin-skinned (oh, in my opinion) leader of a state that Germany's got to keep relatively happy. Mutti Merkel has her hands full, and I wonder sometimes if she's ever taken aside her easily insulted colleague and said, "Listen, old buddy, old pal, have you ever seen the stuff the kids put up on You-Tube about me and about Barack and hey, these Panama papers are really more the kind of thing you should worry about. . . ."
Naah, she doesn't count, 'cause she's a woman, except when she's a head of state. Oh, I do hope my favorite young satirist hasn't Salman Rushdied himself. And God forbid Charlie Hebdoed himself. He should have thought of Osip Mandelstam's remark: "Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?" Unfortunately, there is. Humor is on trial. Blasphemy is a concept immune to humor. Now supposing I was going to insult--not this tiresome Turkish president, but God, him or herself--can't he or she take it? By definition yes, one would think. If Herr Böhmermann had just dipped into some of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's remarks about how and why fundamentalists think the way they do, he might be out having a beer right now with his friends. Oh, but the poem is so good. It really is. Was the thrill worth it? And where are other satirists? David Sedaris, vault to your feet and defend this guy, please! Coda: "Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think." Thank you, Horace Walpole. We could use some thinking around here.

P.S. Why doesn't Erdogan take a hint from Dolores Umbridge's failed suppression of Harry Potter's interview disclosing the re-appearance of Voldemort? 

This week's Die Zeit, Germany's version of The Guardian, asks why The Queen, the most powerful woman in the world (aka Angela Merkel) is reprimanding the court jester, the considerably less powerful Jan Böhmermann. I know she's between a rock and a hard place, but between you and me, I think she ought to ask him how to handle dickheads. There's a long and honored tradition of the court jester knowing best. Just read King Lear. If the old king had only listened to his Fool . . . who knew the score from way back . . .

I wish I had Böhrmann's wit. But here's my two cents:

Erdogan's a great big drip
Not one bit of him is hip
Get this man a better life
So he won't be filled with strife.


I know: doesn't quite cut it. Well, nobody reads me, anyway. Boys and girls, go memorize Herr Böhrmermann's lines! Now!

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