Friday, January 05, 2007

Funny?

I received this joke through email.


OLD VERSION...
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

MODERN VERSION
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant's a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.

NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding that grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter. Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance). Opposition MP's stage a walkout.Left parties call for "Bharat Bandh" in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers.


This joke follows the usual trend of jokes on India. It is cynical and in the context of the joke, it becomes funny.

But there is so much politics in this joke that it surprises me that nobody stops to examine it. Why do people want to portray Roy and Patkar as people who support "grasshoppers"? Do they consider the displaced tribals are grasshoppers? Actually, I am more interested in the effect such jokes have on the recipients. Does this make them _start_ disregarding Roy's words or does it just amplify their disdain for her? Some day, I will study jokes in more detail...

I dont know who wrote this joke and whether s/he intended it to be a just a joke or a propoganda, though I would be more inclined to think that this was meant to be just a joke which, in my opinion, is more dangerous. The fact that this joke does get circulated implies that the circulator feels that the joke is worth sharing and is in fact funny. I am pretty sure that a lot of people find this joke funny but I find it sad that the so called "educated" people do not stop to analyse it. There is actually a school of thought - zyada dimag na lagao and quite a few "smart" people seem to follow it. Is that the reason why Bollywood is able to make money off moronic movies?

2 comments:

Rauf said...

There is a great deal of truth in this joke Madhat. the media presents only one side of the coin.
There is more publicity in defending the grasshopper.

Madhat said...

@rauf: yes, the media does present only one side of the story.
There is more publicity in defending the grasshopper.
It depends on whom you call the grasshopper. My problem with the joke was the equation of the displaced tribals with the grasshoppers and if you really think about it, they really do not get any publicity!

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