So what a debilitating, financial crisis has mired an entire family of nations? Leg pulling and poking fun at each other might just manage to save the Eurozone
Sharing a good natured joke with your family or taking a potshot at your family members ought to be a sign of warmth and closeness. But in the European family of nations such wisecracks and ribaldry are increasingly becoming rare.
One glaring exception is the sculpture Entropa created by the artist David Cerney , renowned for his provocative work. In the sculpture which was created to commemorate Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union, David Cerney instead of tom tomming each country’s strengths, decided to portray them in a provocative and controversial manner.
The result was widespread fury and outrage. For instance Bulgaria was illustrated as a Turkish style squatting lavatory, Germany found itself portrayed by a series of crossroads of autobahns –expressways in which many saw an image of a squashed swastika, leading to mass outcry. Romania, on the other hand was shown as a Dracula theme park.
Despite public outrage, the artist steadfastly refused to apologize. He asserted that the sculpture perfectly highlighted the current disconnect between the polite, bland, politically correct life one sees in Brussels, the EU capital and several foppish national stereotypes that are alive in one’s private thoughts and conversations.
Political humor was ruthlessly persecuted under the Iron Curtain of communism. Today such jokes, understandably are less risky but also, less necessary. In the days of the Cold War, such jokes acted as safety valve and an expression of resistance against the political hierarchy.
Such jokes still abound today in the easternmost corners of Europe where one can easily find the quintessential , corrupt politician. Pestilential corruption is rampant from the Baltic to the Black sea, so gags about the incompetent political structures as well as dim-witted , corrupt policemen are very common.
(q: A policeman is shaving…..The phone rings….Why does he cut himself?...So that he knows where to resume from)
Bygone jokes of the yore about hedonistic , ignorant Americans have revived ever since the collapse of Communism , with the focus being shifted to a new breed of noveaux riches , particularly the profligate Russians, who are renowned for their crudeness and decadence. For example, “How Much did you pay for the tie?” “$500” “What a pity, a shop over there sells it for $1000”
However, there are clear double standards. It’s okay for one to poke fun at Germans even alluding to their Nazi past, but it’s politically as well as morally incorrect for any Germans to tell Jewish jokes, unless he is a Jewish German.
Cracking jokes at several ethnic groups who are considered stupid, has also become a strict no no. For instance Irish for the British, Poles if you are American and Belgian if you are French.
Strangely, jokes about economic mismanagement and poverty are allowable but dim-wittedness and dishonesty (the foremost reasons for the current financial crisis) are barred as in:
“What is the Capital Of Ireland”
"Its Five Euros".
The Russian imperialism has also become the butt of several popular jokes. A Russian is filling out a form at the Estonian border. “Occupation” asks the border patrol helpfully. “No it’s just a business trip” pat comes the reply.
Despite being politically incorrect, stereotypes feature abundantly in our private jokes . Romanians are scheming, Hungarians are gloomy, and Fins overconfident. “We don’t need an electrician”-the famous Finnish last words.
However self-deprecating humor is the best form of humor that represent political maturity and in this regard Estonia, the recent family member of EU, has paved the way for self-bashing by telling savage jokes at the expense of themselves.
It will be a areal mark of success for the anonymous bureaucrats at the European Commission and European Parliament, that the voters and taxpayers who put them there, care enough about their work to crack jokes about to it.