HITLER AND SWASTIKAS ARE OFFENSIVE AND NOT FUNNY AND BRITISH PEOPLE ARE POLITE
I am no artist.
In an effort to prove myself right, my nonsense masquerading as art has featured Hitler's wedding cake, Hitler's Hitlermobile, Mussolini on a tricycle, Stalin's cupcakes, Napoleon's food product empire, Kim Jong Il as a lollipop, Kaiser Wilhelm on a kaiser roll and Mao as a big, yummy yellow cookie.
However, my son's French school directory lists my occupation as such and my mother always told me, "Son, you can't argue with a French school directory."
Okay, I'll bow to my mother and the French school directory; but just because I'm an artist, doesn't mean I'm a good one. One reviewer called both my art and me "a black hole sucking the life out of everything."
So imagine my surprise when this black-hole-sucking-the-life-out-of-everything got a phone call from this British magazine, with its glossy pages and fancy four-color photographs, saying that they wanted to feature my art.
My surprise notwithstanding, I was somewhat saddened that a culture responsible for the Magna Carta and David Bowie had fallen so low; however, I was extremely pleased for my own sake and maybe, just maybe, the Saatchi brothers would come across the feature and want to pay way-too-much money for some of my nonsense. After all, if they're willing to drop a few MINI Coopers full of English sterling on ensconced shark carcasses, they're good for at least a baker's dozen of Stalin's Cupcakes and a 40" x 40" Hitlermobile , right?
Hold your horses and Hitlermobiles, said the magazine. Yes, we like your art. No, we are not going to show your Hitler-specific art because "Hitler is offensive and not funny."
Note to self: Hitler is offensive and not funny.
"No swastikas, either. Swastikas are offensive and not funny too," they added, albeit politely.
Note to self: Swastikas are offensive and not funny, and the British are extremely polite.
Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, and Kim Jong Il had no such problems—apparently, they are either beneficiaries of the aforementioned British politeness, or they are inoffensive and funny enough not to be excluded.
Poor Mao! He tried oh so hard to be offensive and not funny: 70 million deaths, give or take a couple million; the whole brink-of-nuclear-holocaust thing; his fatherly advice, "The atom bomb is a paper tiger used to scare people. It looks terrible, but in fact it isn't"; the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution; plenty of other assorted nastiness; some crappy poetry; and, he never brushed his teeth.
Rest easy, Mao. You're just as offensive and not funny as Adolf. Yes, the same goes for you Uncle Joe, you too Il Duce and, yes, you Dear Leader. And that's exactly why we should laugh at you.
Bad guys don't like to be laughed at—that's part of what makes them bad guys. Bad guys take themselves so seriously.
Mussolini, a bad guy, said, "This is the epitaph I want on my tomb: ‘Here lies one of the most intelligent animals who ever appeared on the face of the earth.'" Mussolini did not get his wish. His bullet-ridden corpse was hung upside down in a public square and spat upon.
Napoleon, another bad guy regardless of what the French say, returned to Paris, abandoning his soon-to-be-defeated army in the Middle East on October 16, 1799, and told France, "Follow me, I am the god of the day."
France followed Napoleon, and 5,398 days later, it was bankrupt, 1,000,000 Frenchmen were dead, and Napoleon lived on a crummy rock in the middle of the Atlantic. On the crummy rock, he spent his days dictating his memoirs noting, "I have worn the imperial crown of France, the iron crown of Italy, and now England has given me one even grander and more glorious—that worn by the Savior of the world—a crown of thorns."
There's a word for braggadocio epitaphs and self-proclaimed gods: hubris.
However, we are told not to laugh at these people. Mocking them, laughing at them, satirizing them, we are told, trivializes their crimes. I would argue that only speaking about the Hitlers of the world in deadly serious tones actually pays the fools the reverence they so crave.
They don't mind being called monsters, but they sure don't like being called fools.
So, by all means, show Hitler with his pants around his ankles; put a clown nose on Mussolini; slap a Kick Moi sign on Napoleon's back; give Mao some onion gum; put a whoopee cushion under Stalin. Descended pants, clown snouts, kick me signs, joke gum, and whoopee cushions don't mix well with the overbearing pride that is hubris.
If bad guys don't like being called fools, it stands to reason they would not care too much to be portrayed as pastries and lollipops. Now, I'm not saying all we have to do to deal effectively with the lunatic evil that is, say, Kim Jong Il is sneak Lewis Black into North Korea with a Kim Jong Il bit and a megaphone, but it wouldn't hurt—unless, of course, you are Lewis Black, and you get captured and thrown into a dank prison and are tortured.
Voltaire, a good guy, said, "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."
Voltaire's prayer begs the question: What would the really offensive and not funny bin Laden look like as a pie?
Ridiculous, I hope.