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I'm rather hopelessly lost to define when it's 'useful' to mock anyone. And I'm also rather hopelessly lost on the how and when minority cultures 'impinge' on the 'inside'. It's raining question marks for me. I rather suspect such discussion is bound to derail and people end up perfectly talking past each other.

So, my only aid is adding a Dutch example of 'cabaret' - these days largely performed as humorous story-telling. The current segment, by lauded, gruff 'cabaretier' Theo Maassen has created the past week a bit of a dust-up:

The joke that caused the stir is made in the first 20 seconds. Because this is an 'inside' joke (?), let me go through it verbatim:

European Tribune - Comments - LOL. What is the point of comedy? tan1 European Tribune - Comments - LOL. What is the point of comedy?

Bij de vorige verkiezingen, in Volendam stemde 50 procent van de mensen stemde op de PVV. In Volendam! Dat hele dorp is 100 procent blank! De enige variatie die ze daar hebben in huidskleur zijn de slachtoffers van die cafebrand. Dat is pure xenofobie!

In the last elections, 50 percent of the people in Volendam voted for the PVV. In Volendam! The whole village is 100 percent white! The only variation in skincolor that they have there are the victims of the cafe fire. It is pure xenophobia!

Volendam, both tourist attraction and famous fishing village, is a close-knit and deeply religious community amidst the fabric of Dutch society. People in Volendam adhere to their own traditional culture and family values and are also (in)famous for their interbreeding - which has resulted in a distinguishable gene pool, also used by scientists for genetic mapping.

As known, the PVV is the anti-Muslim, populist party of Geert Wilders.

On New Year's in 2000 - 2001, a fire in a local café in Volendam ended in a deadly tragedy - with 14 people dead and hundreds of young people scarred for life with dramatic burn wounds. More here.

Thus the 'joke'.

In his shows, Maassen spares hardly anyone - himself, his girlfriend, his audience, waiters, Geert Wilders, atheists, the Queen, etc. He's been criticized for tiptoeing around coarse jokes on muslims and Islam - but he hasn't spared them either. And now he targets people in Volendam. Maassen is not from Volendam - he's an 'outsider' in that respect. But he's also Dutch and he's as white as the traditional people in Volendam.

His show, launched last year February, is called 'With all due respect' and was rated by critics as one of his most poignant and best ever seen. It was broadcast last December on a public channel for the first time.

Only then, after more than a year after the try-outs, someone in Volendam said: 'Wait, I'm offended by this!'.

Which probably says more about Volendam than it does about Maassen.

I'm not going to touch whether Maassen is 'impinging' enough to mock a minority culture or whether he's too much of an outsider - or whether it is altogether useful.

Still after this segment, he does go on extensively mocking Volendam people, and to great success of the audience - and myself, I should add in all honesty.

by Nomad on Tue Jan 8th, 2013 at 08:50:58 AM EST
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