It’s a mad mad mad world

mad magazine, charlie hebdo, social satire in publishing, freedom of the press, opinion and commentary,

While cleaning out some boxes, I came across this old periodical: 4th Annual Review of Mad Magazine. Based upon information from MAD Magazine’s wikipedia entry, it’s from 1960/61. I loved Mad Magazine, and bought it religiously in the early ‘70s. It was the funniest and most irreverent thing I’d ever read. And also the truest.

The ground-breaking MAD, founded in 1952 ~ current, satires all aspects of life, popular culture, politics, entertainment – a wide net. MAD pioneered social satire. There probably wouldn’t have been a National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, Spy or The Simpsons without it.

For MAD, no topic was off limits, and while I haven’t read the magazine in ages, I assume the coverage is still broad. But in this age of endless content generation, I wonder how biting MAD can be. With a large number of the world’s population posting every aspect of their daily life – while others love, hate, share and comment on it – can fabricated social satire find the truth of a situation and exploit it in the same way?

The internet can be a parody itself, a satire of a satire – some of the content found is beyond comprehension. The audience is now global, so even if by chance, you’ve missed something, if it goes viral, you can’t escape it.

mad magazine, charlie hebdo, social satire in publishing, freedom of the press, opinion and commentary,

Which leads to the downside of a global community. What’s acceptable for skewing in one society as fair game, may not play well in another society. The horrific tragedy at Charlie Hebdo – no need to say more. Everyone has an opinion, an entitlement rightly so. But no one is entitled to force that opinion on others. Change the channel. turn off the TV, close the browser, don’t subscribe to a newspaper, feed or podcast. That’s your right.

I just discovered that freedom of the press is only a privilege given to citizens in 14% of the world’s countries. The rest of the world has press that is government-controlled or driven by non-state actors. That’s terrifying, and makes the world a smaller – and scarier stage.

There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. That’s how civilized people act. Expressing an opinion, or social commentary – verbally, written or visually – should not mean a death sentence.

Je suis Charlie. Vive la liberté d’expression.

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Enjoy this look at MAD from Studio 360. Note, this story was recorded in july 2014.

Fact about the 1960 MAD annual issue:

The issue shown at the top set a copyright precedent with its “Sing Along With MAD” piece. Music publishers representing great composers including Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter filed a $25 million lawsuit against MAD for copyright infringement for the song parodies. The court ruled in favor of the magazine to publish 23 of the 25 parodies. The publishers appealed. The decision was not only upheld by the courts, but the remaining two songs were permitted to stand as well. This case set a landmark precedent, and permitted parodists and satirists to mimic the meter of popular songs.

mad magazine, charlie hebdo, social satire in publishing, freedom of the press, opinion and commentary,

mad magazine, charlie hebdo, social satire in publishing, freedom of the press, opinion and commentary,

Photos: © 2015 Janet Giampietro;  The 14 jan 2015 issue of Charlie Hebdo used with the greatest respect.

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