Shock Horror: Folklore of Disaster 11

SHOCK HORROR: The Folklore of Disaster


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© Warren Fahey


There have also been a number of photographs circulated as email that also have the intention of showing that all Afghans are idiots. Many of these appear as actual news photographs and there is no way of proving that they are authentic or fake. One suspects, because they are anonymous, that there is a good chance they are photoshop.        

The Taliban attitude to women, and I note that this is a fundamentalist attitude and not one associated with all Arabic cultures, also produced a large volume of jokes. The fact that the Taliban is far more restrictive than other cultures is taken as a point of ridicule and especially by feminists. Once again, according to the general media, the Taliban appears to prohibit anything that moves and, in particular, anything that America takes for granted. It appears that our immediate reaction to anything we do not understand is to consider it evil and unnecessary and therefore open to ridicule through humour. There were several photoshop illustrations referring to Taliban women however instead of championing their rights they denigrated them even further.

All Muslims are forbidden to watch television in Afghanistan.
The Tellyban

And another version in the guise of a Wanted Advertisement:


If you have any old televisions that you’re not using any more, reply to
this email at the address below, with your details, and we will collect
them from you. Even if they are black and white, as long as they are
still working, we gladly take them off your hands.

All generously donated TVs will then be shipped direct to Afghanistan
to help overcome the telly ban.

Thank you for your donation.

Then there is the general premise that all terrorists are dim-witted and Arab terrorists in particular. This, as discussed, is a folklore mechanism to show power over the enemy. Many of the photoshop jokes are mere sword-waving intended to both rally the troops and scare the opposition. The following illustrations are part of a large body of photoshop expressing America’s defence might and what Afghanistan can expect from war.

Some are posed as letters from Boeing and others have bin Laden flying a magic carpet followed closely by a fighter jet.


  Iraqi terrorist, Khay Rahnajet, didn’t pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with “return to sender” stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb; he opened it and was blown to bits.
Q: What did the terrorist that hijacked a jumbo-jet full of lawyers do?
A: He threatened to release one every hour if his demands were not met.

Q: Did you hear about the dyslexic terrorist?
A: He broke into a zoo and took 5 ostriches.

Then there was the Irish terrorist who blew up a bus.
He burned his lips on the exhaust pipe.

Surprisingly there were few jokes about the attack on the Pentagon. It is difficult to understand why this is so. Maybe the massive death toll of New York compared to that of Washington merely drowned the need for humour.

 Q: Now how many sides to a Pentagon?
A: Four.

Q: If one side of the Pentagon has collapsed, will it now be renamed “The Square”?
A: It should be renamed “The Penta-gone”

Some jokes are created and circulated as stories rather than the elementary question and answer style joke.

 Osama Bin Laden and Bush meet up in Afghanistan for the first round of talks in a new peace process. When George sits down, he notices three buttons on  the side of Osama’s chair. They begin talking. After about five minutes Osama presses the first button. A boxing glove springs out of a box on the desk and punches bush in the face. Confused, Bush carries on talking as Osama laughs.

A few minutes later the second button is pressed. This time a big boot comes but and kicks Bush in the shin. Again Osama laughs, and again Bush carries on talking, not wanting to put off the bigger issue of peace between the two countries.

But when the third button is pressed and another boot comes out and kicks Bush in the privates, he’s finally had enough, knowing that he can’t do much without them functioning well.

“I’m going back home!” he tells the Afghani group.
“We’ll finish these talks in two weeks!”

A fortnight passes and Osama flies to the United States for talks. As the two men sit down, Bin Laden notices three buttons on Bush’s chair and prepares himself for the Yank’s revenge. They begin talking and George presses the first button. Osama ducks, but nothing happens. Bush snickers. A few seconds later he presses the second button. Osama jumps up, but again nothing happens. Bush roars with laughter.

When the third button is pressed, Osama jumps up again, and again nothing happens. Bush falls on the floor in a fit of hysterics.

“Forget this,” says Osama. “I’m going back to Afghanistan!”
Bush says through tears of laughter, “What Afghanistan?”