Ugly Christmas Sweaters and Bubba Teeth: On Holidays and Class-Based Humor

Ugly Christmas Sweater

Several days ago, I was wooed to my local thrift store by their promise of deep holiday discounts. As I was shopping, an employee made an announcement over the loudspeaker that went something like this:

“Shoppers! Don’t forget to check out our latest and greatest selection of ugly Christmas sweaters, perfect for your Ugly Christmas Sweater party! They’re located on the west side of the store under the “Christmas sweaters” sign.”

I happened to be one aisle over from that very sign and saw several older, presumably working class women shopping in that section, looking at one another with shocked faces upon their mutual discovery that what they had presumed was a fantastic deal on a nice holiday sweater was now someone else’s joke. Whether such a sweater ended up in their carts I do not know, but it was a very interesting examination of how certain types of defamation can be called “humor” while others simply remain defamation. Continue reading “Ugly Christmas Sweaters and Bubba Teeth: On Holidays and Class-Based Humor”

Patricide and the Nation

Jinnah and Gandhi, “fathers” of Pakistan and India

Yesterday was Father’s Day in the United States, a manufactured holiday (like any other) that promotes socially-sanctioned sentiments through the mass production of “World’s Greatest Dad” cards and mugs. The day before US Father’s Day, multiple attacks in the Pakistani province of Balochistan included a form of symbolic patricide, as a group fired rockets to destroy a residence where M. A. Jinnah, regarded as the father of Pakistan, had lived in Ziarat, also killing the police officer guarding the site. The other attacks in Balochistan that day reportedly killed dozens, including bombings at a women’s university and a hospital, both in Quetta (a few hours away from Ziarat). While Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which some people link with al Qaida, claimed responsibility for the hospital and university attacks, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), identified as a separatist group trying to gain the independence of Balochistan from Pakistan, claimed the attack on Jinnah’s residence. Continue reading “Patricide and the Nation”