“To lampoon somebody's death after the event is grossly insensitive.... It's too soon.''
-John Beyer of Media Watch U.K.
I've been following the controversy surrounding the South Park episode in which Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, appears with a stingray protruding from his chest. In the episode, Satan is hosting a Halloween party. At one point, a guest informs Satan that somebody is dressed in a Steve-Irwin-impaled-by-a-stingray costume and it's offending the guests. Satan confronts the man (who turns out to be Irwin) and says, “Dude, the Crocodile Hunter thing? It's too soon. You gotta go.”
Naturally, the Australians are bent. They believe South Park mocked their messiah. They may not have rioted like the Muslims did when their messiah got mocked (even Aussies aren't that bovine), but they sure did get snarky about it. From the press, the bloggers and the watchdog groups to the man on the street, they all pretty much shared the same sentiment: It's just too soon-as if there is some specific time when it will be permitted to mock the King of Crocodiles.
As if there were some formula concerning how many days must pass before lampooning certain tragedies.
As if that formula should be determined by official decree, so that when it is finally OK to mock the Crocodile King, military trucks with giant speakers on their hoods will drive down all the main streets of the world, bellowing, “Attention residents: It is permissible to joke about the Croc Hunter now,” like a “radiation levels are normal” announcement after a nuclear event.
It's obvious this has really offended the Aussies. Clearly, they consider Irwin to be a messiah of sorts and, therefore, off limits to satire, even though the person they chose as messiah is the most annoying, easily satirized, hyperactive, animal-loving nutbucket allowed on television since Tony Little came out with his exercise Gazelle.
Question: How did the Crocodile Hunter ever make it to messiah status? He wears khaki shorts and hiking boots with white socks. You can't be a messiah wearing shorts, hiking boots and tube socks! A messiah is supposed to wear long flowing robes and open-toed sandals and say things like, “Let all the children come unto me,” not “Crikey, I think a dingo bit my bum!”
Despite all this, they chose the Croc Hunter as their prophet, and you damn well better not mock him. Not that Australians are any more sensitive about their messiahs than the rest of us. All groups have this mentality. The mentality that it's OK to laugh at other groups' messiahs but not for them to laugh at yours: Americans, Europeans, Asians, Arabs, politicians, artists, athletes, atheists, Christians, comics, cops, lawyers-shit, even stoners have been known to go fisticuffs over Jerry Garcia fat jokes while having no problem calling Ted Nugent a bloodthirsty fascist hatemongering Bambi killer.
It is similar to the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) mentality, except I call it NOMMY (Not On My Messiah, Yo) because the joke is funny when the joke is on your messiah, but when it's on mine, well, that's just wrong.
Thing is, the South Park joke is not on Irwin. It had nothing to say about him either way. The joke is on us. The joke is on our tornado of political-correctness awareness. The joke is that political incorrectness is considered such an evil in this world that it offends even Satan: Here we have The Prince of Darkness, The Antichrist, The Dark Angel, The Cloven-Hooved Goat Humper, The Overlord of Evil and Disease and Murder and Ass Rape and File Sharing, worried that it's too soon to wear a Croc Hunter costume.
The joke is about how deeply the joke is going to offend and look how their premonition came true as the offended of the world all hollered, “Too soon, too soon!”
Remember when Gilbert Gottfried tried to tell 9/11 jokes at The Friars Club just a few days after the attacks? The crowd turned on him. Et tu, Friars Club? They hissed and booed. Some people yelled, “Too soon, too soon!” causing Gottfreid to abandon the material and move into a safer, less-offensive routine called “The Aristocrats,” which features a father banging all the members of his family in a pool of excrement. And I really just want to know: Who the hell are you to say when it's too soon?
Too soon is personal, man. One man's too soon is another man's too late. For me, there is no such thing as too soon. I probably would have laughed at a Sept. 11 joke on Sept. 11 if somebody had come out of shock long enough to have uttered one. It's not because I'm insensitive. Humor is how I deal. I mourned on 9/11 too, you know. And now I mourn the Croc Hunter. Not necessarily because he's the Croc Hunter, but because he's dead. He was once a person, now he's not, therefore I grieve for him. And I grieve for his family. I grieve for the families of those who died who we never heard about. I grieve for those whom are dead now and those who are next and those who are next next. I grieve for you and I grieve for me-all of us-and this bullshit lifespan we were given, this asswipe of a lifespan, this prick-tease of a lifespan, this blink-your-eye-and-poof-it's-all-gone existence that binds us all. That's why I make jokes. So I can deal. So, go fuck a too soon. Everyone can decide for themselves when that is.
Reminder: Barzilla and Other Psalms
book-release party, Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Winston's, 1921 Bacon St., Ocean Beach.
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