Friday, September 10, 2010

A Bucca That's Not Being Passed

Caption: A screenshot taken from an Al Jazeera video about Put Him In Bucca, an Iraqi reality television show about bombs and checkpoints.

Image credit: All screenshots from this Al Jazeera video by Cujo359

Here's proof, if any were really needed, that humor can be awfully subjective:

An Iraqi prank television show has taken the 'candid camera' format to a new level after planting fake bombs under celebrities' cars.

The programme, “Put Him In Bucca”, also threatens high-profile contest[ant]s with jail in a maximum-security prison despite their protests of innocence.

The show, broadcast on the Al-Baghdadia network, targets famous Iraqi singers, comedians and artists.

Iraqi Prank Television Show Condemned For 'Fake Bomb' Stunts

As you might imagine, this show has received some pointed criticism in a country that lives with bomb threats, and actual bombings, on a regular basis:

A new Iraqi comedy show has come under criticism for making jokes about the dangerous reality of life in the country.

The show, "Put him in Bucca", features fake bombs being planted in celebrities' cars, and candid camera-style recording of their reactions.

But as Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reports from Baghdad, not everyone finds it funny.

Iraq comedy show under fire

In the video at that link, Al Jazeera quotes the show's producer as saying that one of the reasons the reasons they created the show was to try to relieve some of the stress of constantly worrying about bombs and checkpoints. "The joke's on Al Qaeda", he said, "not the Iraqi people."

The show strikes me as the sort of grim humor you'd expect to see in the circumstances Iraqis find themselves in. Wanting to make a joke of such a situation seems as natural to me as being afraid.

And, quite naturally, there are people who take a dim view of this sort of thing, like this psychologist who deplores that his fellow Iraqis won't be taking the bombs seriously. As if anyone wouldn't take them seriously when they're a monthly occurrence.

It looks to me like maybe Al Jazeera has picked up the bad habit of American journalists who try to find an opposing view no matter how crazy it might be to think that there is one.

Sadly, the Iraqi government has apparently decided to crack down on the show, perhaps worried that people won't take real checkpoints and bomb searches seriously anymore. I have to say I'm rooting for the show to keep going. Laughter makes just about anything seem a little less daunting.

Afterword: In case you're wondering what possessed me to pick the title of this article, there's an explanation this time. According to the Al Jazeera video, the Arabic version of the title is a play on words that sounds like "let's rob him". Some sort of play on words seemed appropriate.

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