Throughout history humour and satire have often been engaged to ease the pain of trauma and tragedy and boost overall morale. This was certainly the case during World Wars I and II when everything from cartoons to popular songs were designed to make people smile in the face of enormous disruption and the grim reality of war. On face value the current pandemic, with over two million infected worldwide and some 200,00 deaths, would appear nothing to laugh about. Nevertheless there are increasing elements of comedy and absurdity that have been generated as a kind of mental vaccine.
In most cases it’s a perfectly explainable defence mechanism employed by many people to counter their fears, anxiety and the social restraints of lockdown. Occasionally it makes no sense at all such as the bizarre ‘Corona Pool Party’ held in South Africa around the middle of March. Hundreds of people attended and joined in a mass chant of “Corona Corona Corona” whilst cavorting madly in the pool. Whether it was an act of defiance, an explosion of mass lunacy or the baptism reborn remains open to question. Not a good advertisement for social distancing.
T-shirts have always been the perfect human advertising hoarding for catchy and comic slogans of which the pandemic has spawned literally hundreds. Some of the more original offerings on eBay include “KUNG FLU FIGHTING”, “STRAIGHT OUT OF TOILET PAPER” and the Mona Lisa with a face mask. All bound to be collector’s items in about 20 years time!
With lockdowns all over the world, people have far too much time on their hands and recording a ‘COVID-19’ version of a top 40 tune has delivered an ever increasing ‘virus’ song book. The Knack’s My Sharona (i.e. My Corona) has been an obvious target, with multiple versions that even include a tagalog version from the Philippines. Country singer Buddy Brown has released the rather unoriginal I Got A Case Of Corona and every genre from reggae to now highly appropriate Deathcore has bumped out an internet offering.
Filming a ‘corona’ stunt for YouTube can be fraught with danger. When a number of young Russian men staged a fake virus collapse on the Moscow metro and posted online, it wasn’t too long before the over-zealous Russian police were on their tail. Similarly when budding Canadian social media star James Potok announced to passengers on a flight from Toronto to Jamaica that he was carrying the virus, the pilot turned the plane around with the police waiting at the airport.
Stand-up comedians have also had a field day posting their isolation jokes online but when it comes to true comedy in a tragic environment, nothing comes close to Donald Trump. You seriously have to ask, has age and early onset dementia finally caught up with the Donald? Here’s a leader who encourages average Americans to all wear a mask and then says, “I won’t be wearing one.” Here’s a president who says the Corona virus is very interesting, “people can’t get enough of it.” And here’s a world leader who endorses chloroquine as a possible miracle virus cure when there is absolutely no medical proof to back him up.
And damm you Trump – you told the world that disinfectant could be administered intravenously to combat the virus. There’s not a container of Dettol left at my local supermarket and just yesterday I caught a good friend trying to shoot up a whole bottle of Pine-O-Cleen. How did we know over 24 hours later that you were just being “sarcastic”?