Holistic Approaches to Jokes

The following is the cartoon that I selected.

arabic cartoons

Figure 1.0 An Arabic cartoon. (Cartoons by Hamad Almuhaize)

I selected the above cartoon for a number of reasons. Foremost, the cartoon is drawn from an Arabic language source. Therefore, it fulfils part of the assignment’s requirement. Secondly, the cartoon is closely related to the Asian culture, and, in particular, the Gulf culture, as opposed to other cultures. Thirdly, I selected the cartoon as I found it appealing to the eye. Therefore, I have a great interest in the work. Where a person has an interest in something, it follows that he or she will feel comfortable and motivated to work with it. 

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There are several aspects of the UAE culture that the cartoon is evidently poking fun at. One of these is social stratification. In the UAE, the society is usually divided into two social classes; the foreign immigrants and the Nationals. The Nationals are further classified into four major classes and these include the ruling sheikh families, the merchants, the new middle class, as well as, the low-income class. The ruling sheikh family class is constituted of people who hold the ultimate political power. They are also attributed to extreme wealth and prestige. The cartoon seemingly pokes fun at this stratification. The three men are distinguishable by their dressing. The man who is closer to the background can be said to represent the people in the highest social class since he is wearing bright clothes. On the other hand, the other two men represent the other classes due to the notion that they are wearing dull-coloured clothes. Still on the social stratification cultural element, the cartoon pokes fun at the power that the Sheikh family has over the other groups in UAE. As it can be seen, the man wearing bright-coloured clothes seem to be commanding or to be directing the other two men. 

Another important Emirati culture that the cartoon seems to draw fun on is the gender role and statuses. In UAE, it has been revealed by different researchers that the involvement of Emirati women in the labour force has remained as one of the lowest when compared to other countries across the world. The cartoon seems to portray the funny part of such s cultural element. The people in the cartoon can be thought as representing the labour force. None of them is a female, a thing that clearly typifies the UAE’s culture. Aside from this, on the status of men and women, it is a common experience in the UAE that men continue receiving employment preferences, especially in the field of politics. The cartoon makes fun of this situation by not including a female character. Another important cultural aspect of the UAE is the long beards. In Emirati, most men grow a long beard. Long beards are deemed to serve as a symbol of wisdom. The cartoon especially pokes fun at the idea of wisdom. The two men that seem to pull the earth have long beards. They are supposed to portray wisdom. However, pulling the earth does not portray any wisdom. 

I tend to think that the aspect of the cartoon that requires the hugest explanation is the thematic element. According to TLA text, the thematic aspect of a joke means that an artwork combines ideas and practices into a theme in form, content and values. As it has been determined above, the cartoon represents a varied number of cultural values including gender role and statuses social stratification, and the appeal towards long beards. By bringing all these cultural values together, it follows that the cartoon creates a theme that permeates the majority of the Asian societal elements. All these connections have to be explained to ensure that the meaning of the cartoon is understood by the audience more precisely. In this respect, the thematic aspect of a cartoon requires a greater level of explanation to elicit a greater understanding of the UAE’s cultural sphere. For the other aspects such as the causal facet, a person can only include a simplistic explanation and succeed in convincing the reader or the audience. The same can be said about the processual aspect a cartoon. At the heart of this aspect, according to the text, is the idea of linking the cultural features portrayed by a cartoon. The level of details involved in explaining the thematic aspect of a cartoon such as the one above is thus high when compared to these and other aspects.

There are two groups of Emiratis that are likely to laugh at this particular cartoon. One of the likely groups would be the members of the Sheikh family. As it has been determined earlier in the TLA text, the man in white represents the people in the higher political order. He is the leader and is the person on whom the ultimate power to make the societal decisions lies. His responsibility is to direct the other social classes in the UAE, who are represented by the men in black kandura The man, just like the other UAE leaders, might not be aware of the hardships that the members of the other classes have to undergo to fulfil the higher order goals. However, upon seeing this cartoon, they are likely to see the fun in the nature of experiences that they have subjected the other groups onto. Another group that would see the fun in this cartoon is the illiterate in the society. Within the context of this paper, an illiterate person is one who does not have the capacity or the ability to think or reason beyond an artwork. He or she is an individual who cannot make any inference or relate a cartoon to the experiences and the events that take place in the society. While such a person might be aware of the inefficiencies of the societal culture, he or she might not know the manner in which it is being portrayed by the cartoon. Without such knowledge, it is worthwhile to claim that this group of people would see the cartoon as funny. 

However, the UAE human right activists might not see the fun in the cartoon. A human rights activist is a person or a group of people who act in a manner that protects or promotes some variations of human rights. To them, they would see the cartoon as representing several grave violations of the human rights, including the limited participation of women in the labour force, rather than fun. Also, the human right activists would be concerned with the domineering nature of the Sheikh family over the other groups within the society. They would not see any fun in this situation. Instead, they would be motivated to initiate an action aiming to cause a change in the situation. 

The way that the cartoon under consideration appears is funny. However, there are several alterations that could be made to make it even funnier. For instance, other characters performing hilarious actions could be introduced. A female character could be introduced, sitting just outside the path doing home chores, and looking at the working men as if expecting something from them. Besides making the cartoon funnier, such an alteration could also play an essential role in assisting the audience to gain a further understanding of the UAE’s culture. In the UAE culture, as it was mentioned previously in this study, women are not often found in the workplaces. Rather, the majority are in homes, tending to the domestic chores such as cooking and raising children. The alteration would precisely poke fun at such a cultural aspect of the society. Additionally, the added features would depict the UAE women as reliant on men for the provision of the primary life needs. Just like all societies across the world, men are traditionally looked upon to satisfy the needs of the family. The cartoon would capture this culture precisely. The change or alteration would not change the context of the cartoon. Rather, it would add up to the value of the work and as it has been revealed, elicit a greater comprehension of the culture of the Emirati people. 

The aim of this paper was to discuss the holistic approaches to jokes. To undertake this purpose, an Arabic-oriented cartoon was selected and then used to analyse the various aspects of the United Emirates. From the discussion, it is evident that, as a holistic approach to jokes, cartoons can be used to analyse the cultural aspects of a society with precision. At the heart of such an analysis are the various aspects of cartoon work, including the thematic element. This is indeed the cartoon aspect that can assist the audience to come up with in-depth analysis of the artwork and thereby achieve a greater understanding of the cultural issues that a given society experience. Aside from this, the paper has revealed that cartoons can be altered. Such an alteration is imperative as it can potentially change the context of the work and in the process; assist in establishing greater insights about a given society.

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