Get me fact check! That’s no “teddy bear,” that’s Santa Slaus!
HNK # 1: Who killed Santa Claus? (Bert is Evil)
by Khujeci Tomai for AlalODulal.org
As Bangladesh erupted into outrage over umpiring decisions that may have helped India defeat Bangladesh in World Cup 2015, my eyes were caught by this strange image on Dhaka Tribune.
The Dhaka Tribune caption on Rajib Dhar’s photograph says “Furious Tiger fans burn a teddy-bear effigy of the umpires of the Bangladesh-India Melbourne match at the Dhaka University campus yesterday” (http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/mar/20/tiger-fans-say-umpiring-was-ridiculous)
Get me fact check! That’s no “teddy bear,” that’s santa claus! Aka Kris Kringle. DT editor Zafar Sobhan probably knows his north pole denizens well. So I have to presume he had a late morning after watching the match and a junior sub-editor went rogue in the caption department.
I can see the headlines now in Huffington Post!
“Militant Islamists in Dhaka burn Santa Claus”
I am reminded of the infamous poster of OBL with Bert from Sesame Street, that was spotted at Dhaka “Islamist” rally after 9/11. Oh what a bizarro world time that was. Here’s one of the images. Note Bert on far right, above that cartoon villain OBL’s shoulder. One cartoon meets another.
This strange image originated from a website (now defunct) called Bert is Evil, founded by Dino Ignacio. In a long tradition of mashup, it featured Bert, the character on Sesame Street, consorting with notorious villains such as Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden, as well as present at events such as the JFK assassination and September 11 attacks.
How is this funny, you may ask? Maybe it’s white boy humor. I would even say lad humor, but there was no cleavage involved. I suppose there was a larger point, a thesis worth “proof” that Bert was no innocent children’s character. The “Evil Bert” meme was picked up by other culture jammers, who created their own images linking Bert to other events. Hindenburg, Titanic, and so on…
In 2001, a Reuters news photograph was published showing a “pro-Osama bin Laden protest rally” in Bangladesh. I don’t know where this rally was, never seen one myself. [Yes, I can see it now, the inevitable seminar comments complaining I am taking away their agency.]
“Being unaware of Sesame Street, Dhaka printer Mostafa Kamal had copied the collage from the World Wide Web, leaving the image of Bert in his collage.”
(you can tell this sentence comes from 2001 as they are still calling it the “WWW”).
From there the media storm took off. Associated Press, “Sesame Street Character Depicted with Bin Laden on Protest Poster,” ran in October 2001. FOX News called it “Bin Laden’s Felt-Skinned Henchman.” You can imagine how other headlines went. The story of Bert and OBL, along with a picture of the poster, is also featured in the “Urban Legends Reference Pages.”
It eventually spawned a mini-industry of analysis, including the book Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins.
Poor Ignacio, he was the collateral damage of this little PR storm. After this photo came out, Sesame Street’s owners decided Ignacio was a better target for lawsuit than our madrassa student. In response, Ignacio took down the website and all its mirrors, saying “I am doing this because I feel this has gotten too close to reality.”
But Sesame Street was not mollified, their statement included this classic: “Sesame Street has always stood for mutual respect and understanding. We’re outraged that our characters would be used in this unfortunate and distasteful manner. This is not humorous. The people responsible for this should be ashamed of themselves. We are exploring all legal options to stop this abuse and any similar abuses in the future.”
Reality bites Ignacio, and the molars are made in Dhaka. 2001 to 2015. Collage to Kush Puttulika.
This seems the perfect time to request to add to the global LOL dictionary, a new, Made In Bangladesh phrase:
(Hashbo Na Kadbo)
(Should I laugh or should I cry)
(Most days I do both after reading the news)
BertIsEvil.tv – Bertisevil.tv