The Noise, Fury and Self Restraint

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

No one is surprised, when this or that official’s person, steps, posture etc, are ridiculed in extremely ironic tones in different public platforms (cafes, kitchens, social network crossroads). It’s possible to stand against it, give a reminder about human rights and ethical norms, but in all cases mockery and satire are not surprising.

Especially, if those people and phenomena being ridiculed are not sufficiently flexible to endure mockery.

The responses are usually surprising. We can determine from the quality of those responses, what kind of society we are. Ultimately, a real issue is usually behind a successful joke, which can have a thousand and one different packages, but the best package is one of mockery.

In countries with authoritarian and semi-authoritarian model governments, comedy is the only weapon that can allude to the problems, otherwise the punishment will not be late.

In more liberal systems, irony and mockery is no longer the only, rather just another weapon, since there are other means for complaining and expressing concern (direct speech, criticism in the media, the influence of trade unions or NGOs).

And when all of that does not exist, the culture of honorably coming out with irony and mockery becomes very important. Building a joke and taking the time to respond means that there is a development of a self-defense mechanisms. It means being healthy.

Recent responses in Armenia as of late (on two different occasions) prove that the defensive tools of society are, put mildly, not working well.

On one hand, a meaningful upload (velvet revolution) took place, on the other hand, this upload is in danger of remaining superficial and being buried by the complexes of the collective. The complex teaches you to attack, while irony, to search for more delicate paths.

The new World Football Champion, France, in the Armenian section of Facebook was worthy of such qualifications and “fair fury,” that even people who are far from football could clearly see that the majority of people living in Armenia are aggressively homophobic.

People who were not ready to mock the culture, went to the field in rage, naming the football team mainly consisting if immigrants “monkeys, black” in short, second-class players.

And of course, there was the sober question of, what have we come to, that Europe’s best team cannot be called European because of skin colors and surnames?

Blogger-Actor Yozhi (Sergey Danielyan) asked that same question (what have we come to, that we allow such things?), but more aggressively, whose satirical single-minute fairy-tale struck straight into the public’s complexes.

These psychological complexes raise their heads when people feel that it’s more valuable to give an immediate response and make accusations of shame than to practice self restraint.

Actor, Yozhi, who dared to act freely using the new Prime Ministers candid face, was called all kinds of names across social media. Reading between the lines the message was as follows, if you are making fun of the person chosen by the people, then you are a traitor, and a scoundrel at that.

That wrath, the aggression that came from it, the cursing, the hate speech which comes out of the desire to show someone else where their place is, whose bearer (the person swearing) on one hand is protecting the Prime Minister from the actor, and on the other hand, from European refugees. And with that he rises in his own eyes.

In reality, it gives rise to deep sorrow.

Major sport or cultural events (like the World Football Championship or the film festival) always bring with them the attraction of being free and open. Different colors, titles and qualities of people, people surrounded by different legends, different genres of messages which reconcile the idea of being different, adaptation to self restraint, self editing.

Otherwise, the society of fierce “fair rage” is deprived of ventilation cracks, becoming homogeneous and consequently rapidly broken.     

And many things start with being ready for irony and mockery. Without insult, humiliation and taking pleasure out of it.

Nune Hakhverdyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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