At the synagogue my family belongs to, religious school begins with a parent and child chosen class focused on a theme -- this time for Kid #1 and me, "Modern Israel through Pop Culture." We've listened to contemporary music (you don't know hip hop til you hear it in Hebrew), watched snippets of a film I'd seen before and liked, and yesterday viewed some commercials from Israeli TV.
The young man who leads the course (a native of Jerusalem) made the observation that some cultures have so much experience of danger, violence, and trauma that dark humor becomes an almost ingrained coping mechanism. He observed that whereas Americans tend to make trauma sacred and therefore untouchable (e.g. 9/11), Israelis tend not to be quite so grave in their approach. He asked us if we could ever imagine a US television commercial like this one, that makes so light of such a complicated problem.
The comments got me thinking also of Gerald of Wales, and his word pictures of an Irish bishop and of several Jews who use dark humor to deflate the oppression and violence Gerald himself is on the side of. I'll post a few of those quotes later.