Funny Here. Funny There.
Springtime cleaning treasures. In rummaging through the basement, I came across a box with my Dutch cartoon collection. In it I found Dutch copies of Garfield, the comic strip about the fuzzy, orange tabby cat’s reflections on eating, diets and exertion.
Humor requires shared values and references. When something is funny in one language, is it or can it be funny in another language? The controversial Danish cartoons about Islam’s founder Muhammad that have sparked protests with Muslim fundamentalists certainly suggest not. My curiosity was piqued. I started digging around in comic cyber world and found examples of cartoons and shows with a high level of “Americana” that are enjoying great reception beyond US shores:
The animated television sitcom centers on a family and their life in the typical American of Springfield. The series uses a plethora of cultural references from movies, television, music, literature, science, and history. In addition, it has developed a steady number of neologisms. The director of the Linguistic Data Consortium, Mark Liberman, has said that, “The Simpsons has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture’s greatest source of idioms and catchphrases, such as Homer’s annoyed grunt “D’oh!”
The dysfunctional Simpson family rings a bell in Thailand, where the ground-breaking American animation show has been running every Saturday since 1995. By the way, the pixilation in the image on the right is no coincidence: by government mandate, Thai TV blurs images of smoking.