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Estonian Political Caricature: from Gentle Humour to Biting Satire

15 June 2000

Varia

RiTo No. 1, 2000

The editor-in-chief’s hobby-story “Estonian Political Caricature: from Gentle Humour to Biting Satire” begins with a motto by University of Tartu Professor Harald Peep: Humour is said to be very democratic. No one can either be forced to laugh or prohibited from laughing.

Political caricature is a part of political culture. To start with, the author introduces three roles of political caricatures in the media. First, caricatures are part of competition between the actors and ideas in the political arena. A good caricature is often like a can of condensed information, which contains in a compressed form the message summarising several articles – it reflects the standpoint of the publication. Second, caricatures reflect interaction between politics and the media. The historic decline of the image of political leaders is, according to many media sociologists, directly related to changes in the media environment. The new media helps journalists, artists and others who observe how politicians act in different social roles to discover a number of elements of verbal, character and situation comedy. The third task of comical genres has since the ancient times been the sharpening of the common sense and demythologisation of heavenly and earthly gods. In the modern media environment, it means that in order to speed up social changes and political reforms, to put in frame the vices and the wicked, etc., it is possible to use humour, jokes, burlesque, ridicule, irony, grotesque and black humour alongside a deadly serious political speech or academic research. And if this does not help, one can also use sarcasm and satire. The author places the Estonian political caricature in 1999 on a humour-satire scale. Compared to what we see in Western European media, Estonian political caricature is relatively gentle and as a rule does not use any “remedy” stronger than black humour. In parliamentary activities, as we know, humour often plays a conciliatory role helping to resolve unpleasant situations and making the working atmosphere more friendly.

Karikatuuri pilt puudub..

Tekst karikatuuri kõrval: “I begged and begged her to do that excise stuff a bit more gently but she wouldn’t listen…”

The caricature shows how Prime Minister Mart Laar reporting to the Riigikogu tries to blame the unpopular raising of fuel excise tax on the European Union or Euro-Mom.

Full article in Estonian

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