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The Web puts a smile on terror

   Gautam Date

American television network CBS is planning a comedy series based on the attacks; talk show hosts are packing their punch lines once again on prime time, and onion, a leading satire site, is back at its lampooning best.

Even as people in America try and get their lives back in order, the Internet humour brigade has long moved into full gear trying to put those smiles back on everyone's faces.

While tons of sites sprang up on September 11 denouncing terrorism, another set of sites unleashed their own unique perspectives on the events. Closet technicians, pranksters and jokers: everyone jumped aboard.

The fun began with redone or doctored pictures making the rounds via email. There was Osama performing a qawwali with President Bush at a 'Musharraf Memorial' concert, the Statue of Liberty wearing a veil, a new WTC with holes to let planes through, the Manhattan skyline sporting domes to indicate a Talebanisation of the US, George Bush sporting a white, flowing beard.

New maps of Afghanistan sprang up, along with images of a pissed off American eagle, Osama toilet paper and beer, and new cockpit designs.

There were limericks, too ("A closet drinker of fine wine/ Aiding the US, Pervez thought was fine/ One night while drinking in his den/ Quietly came in bin Laden/ And shot him with a carbine"), and a lot of parodies in the form of reports like: 'Militant moderates stage massive lack of protests', 'Hockey provides welcome respite from violence', and 'Small investors urged to remain calm, leave panic to the professionals'.

Then there are other individual efforts. Like the random war generator. What it does is generate fabricated news reports constantly while a 'who needs CNN after all' banner stares at you from a corner of the site.

Another one is terrorist or not, a spoof on are you hot or not which lets you decide whether the most wanted man in the world is, according to a poll, a ruthless criminal or na´ve onlooker. You can rate his picture too, while you take time deciding.

And let's not forget jokes: Whaddya call Osama when he gets out of jail? Osama bin Pardon, of course.

To some, all this may seem incredibly insensitive. Others say laughter is the only thing that can heal at times like these.

Maybe it really is time to smile again. After all, George Dubya Bush and Osama bin Laden aren't just a President and a terrorist any more.

They're also a couple of new generation cartoon heroes.

Additional Links:

The Healing Power of Humour

Bush Humour:

The Story of Curious George W
Punch George Bush
More Bush

Osama Humour:
User's Guide to Osama bin Laden
Osama's house after renovation
Editorial Cartoons on US Attacks, Afghan Bombing, Taleban, Osama bin Laden, Anthrax

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