GRANER'S LAUGH:

THE CONCEPTUAL ARCHITECTURE OF A GUANTANAMO RAPE JOKE

This essay performs an extended close reading of a rape joke in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008).

From the conclusion:

"This essay has presented notes toward an anatomy of war on terror schadenfreude. Texts that encourage us to laugh at torture in this way do the political work of normalizing the dehumanization of prisoners and of permitting us to laugh with torturers at their crimes, and they do so by drawing on aspects of mainstream culture that are deeply embedded into ordinary cultural practice, such as heteronormativity, prison rape humor, and the positioning of transgressive representations as defenses of free speech. It may be objected that this would require Graner’s laughter not to be confined to the torture chamber but widespread throughout society. This is precisely the conclusion, however, that I want to reach: much war on terror humor does indeed feature—whether explicitly or in a coded way—this aggressive, sexually demeaning, homosexualizing, racist tenor. The relation of this specific schadenfreude both to the torturer’s celebration and to many aspects of ordinary mainstream pleasure is precisely why we must object to the homophobic, misogynist, and racist laughter solicited by this specific joke and the tradition of transgressive humor of which it is exemplary."

PUBLICATION DETAILS:

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44.1 (2018), pp. 107-130.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/698279

 

Print ISSN: 0097-9740

 

Online ISSN: 1545-6943

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