Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What Makes a Muslim Laugh?

In light of all the discussion regarding Daniel, I found this new film Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, intriguing, as it also has great potential for being "politically incorrect."

Here's the story:

The State Department, eager to better understand the cultural gap between the United States and the Middle East, have been directed by the president to make a study of what makes Muslims laugh. Brooks is asked to fly to India and Pakistan and bring back a 500-page report on Muslim humor; told the Medal of Freedom may be his if he comes through, Brooks accepts. With a pair of State Department officials in tow, Stuart (John Carroll Lynch) and Mark (Jon Tenney), and some help from a local assistant, Maya (Sheetal Sheth), Brooks sets out to find the funny bone of India's and Pakistan's Muslim communities...

What will be the reaction to this film planned to be released January 20? Even the film's creator, Albert Brooks, isn't sure:

"This had never happened before," said Mr. Brooks from Los Angeles. "There's been no other American comedy that's made light of anything after 9/11. Nobody knows what will happen. The audience could stand up and walk out, they could boo, who knows? I don't have any road map here. I was told that, 'We think it will be O.K.,' but I was also told that people don't mince words here. If you hit the nail wrongly, it's like your thumb: you know it right away."
Sony dropped the film after Brooks refused to change the title. Warner Independent picked it up. In light of Brook's previous work, I would imagine that this film isn't going to be offensive to anyone. But, most likely, someone will be outraged, regardless of how carefully it was made. The world seems to be on the verge of categorizing laughter as a nonessential commodity. We have given our hearts away...a sordid boon!


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