Something has always resonated with me when it comes to satire. I can remember from an early age finding Angus Deayton hilarious as he picked the flesh from whichever political victim he had snared on the BBCs “Have I got news for you”. I thought it a great shame when he was removed as host of the show for cocaine use. Frankly who cares what he sticks up his hooter as long as his work doesn’t suffer? But alas I digress.
A surviving team captain from the show Ian Hislop is the editor of Private eye magazine a publication very similar to the one that has been so prominent in today’s news. It is hard to imagine what is going through his mind tonight and even harder to picture a similar attack happening in this country.
I will be clear here, terrorist attacks, no matter where in the world they happen are awful and the loss of life through violence is sickening. I think what stands out for me about today’s atrocity is the fact that we take an almost weird sense of pride in our ability to “take the piss” out of ourselves in this country. There have been, in recent years, several stories and media coverage of government surveillance. Whilst I find the idea of being watched and judged by government agencies disgusting, it is nothing in comparison to what the families of the murdered cartoonists in France must feel right now.
It is almost impossible for me to get my head around the fact that 12 people lost their lives today because they made satirical cartoons for a living. I have spent most of the day writing and reading for uni work. Every now and then I have allowed myself to be distracted by this news story almost as though I can’t have read it correctly the first, second and third time.
For as long as I can remember and before I was able to comprehend what was being written in the various broadsheet newspapers my parents would buy, I would scan them for the cartoons and then pester my mum or dad to explain what the cartoons meant. Satire above all else is my sense of humour personified. My cynical ways are part driven by my love for this genre of comedy.
As a non religious man I have always found it difficult to listen to religious arguments for aggression and war. My fear now is this attack will spark Islamophobia amongst those opportunistic enough to drive that message and those too naive to see that is exactly what these terrorists wanted to accomplish. That I believe must have been their aim because there can be no way to silence peoples views.
Reading, listening and watching the news has a cruel way of bringing your life and its problems into perspective. I have spent the last few days bemoaning my workload and other somewhat petty issues and can’t help but feel a little guilt about it all now. With planes dropping out of the sky, terrorist groups making life hell on earth for some and people being forcibly removed from their homes you realise how lucky you are to have your health, family and friends.
In the name of “Have I got news for you”, “The thick of it”, “The life of Brian”, Charlie Brooker, “Private eye”, cartoonists everywhere and most importantly tonight “Charlie Hebdo” I say this: Long live satire!