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Make a joke of it

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One of the ways of dealing with something that is troubling is to make a joke of it; to respond to the judge’s ‘Send him down!’ by ‘sending it up’, and making light of wrongdoing and our related unease. The simplicity of the images in these examples from Spanish popular publications means it can be hard to decide whether we are being invited to have a reaction of amusement or something more serious; does the author intend a light-hearted joke, or is there still a lesson to be learned?

What is notable is the degree to which the victims of wrongdoing are mocked, while the ingenuity of those who wrong them is celebrated. In the manner of a pantomime, we are encouraged to laugh at another’s expense, either at the come-uppance of the wrongdoer or the misfortune of the victim. Women, particularly wives, tend to be targets for humorous treatment, though some were happy to give as good as they got.