Sunday, January 24, 2010

Censored Mohammed: Too Raunchy for the Papers

This caricature of Mohammed, created by Rasmus Sand Hoyer, was published on September 30, 2005 in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, along with eleven others. When these pictures were released to the masses, it caused a whirlwind of controversy; this resulted in protests in many Islamic societies which culminated in over one hundred deaths, burning of Danish embassies and various European flags, and the issuing of death threats from Islamic extremists. Viewers of this cartoon, originally throughout fifty or so countries in which this and the other cartoons were published, but later, due to the internet, most of the world, bring up the question of its political correctness. Some view it as racist. Others, along with the artist, view it as a show of rebellion towards self-censorship. Still others just find it amusing, or not amusing, or mildly offensive. Along with every other satirical and political cartoon, not everyone is going to be happy.

Hoyer’s cartoon, along with its eleven counterparts, is a commentary on the ridiculousness of both the fear of practitioners of the Muslim faith, and Islamic extremists. Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, is standing there, with a knife in his hand and is flanked by a “posse of bitches.” This, in and of itself is a parody of how little many westerners know about the Muslim faith. It is also a representation of how many people likely viewed it as horribly offensive. However, as was stated above, this cartoon is a commentary on Islamic extremists as well, which is where this western idea comes from.

As stated above, it is a smack to the face of the notion of censoring oneself. Hoyer is making blatant fun of that with the censor bar across Mohammed’s eyes, playing with the stereotype of the censor bar to cover up “naughty bits,” likening looking into Mohammed’s eyes to looking at a cartoon character’s junk. This censor bar also reduces his face to nothing but a beard, a nose, and a barely visible sneer. Hoyer knows that this is how some people view Middle Easterners, and makes a caricature of that stereotype.

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