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Chile: Government's Critical Response to Comedian's Parody Sparks Debate

Last Sunday, on a TV show called “Halcón y Camaleón” (Hawk and Chameleon) from TV Station TVN (“owned, but not funded, by the state, and it functions independently from it” as explained on Wikipedia), Chilean comedian Stefan Kramer impersonated, once again, football coach Marcelo Bielsa and President Sebastián Piñera. Online newspaper El Mostrador posted the video of the parody [es] on their site.

As previously reported, the relationship between the coach and the president has been extensively discussed on various social media platforms. But the discussion has now taken a different turn, leaving Bielsa aside and focusing heavily on the President and his administration's reactions to Kramer's parodies.

La Tercera reports [es] that the latest comedic act was not taken well by the administration, and that the TV station would discuss the incident in their upcoming meetings. The article also noted that former president Michelle Bachelet was present in that day's show: “The presence of the former president was also seen with suspicion by the government, calling attention to the ‘extremely affectionate’ treatment she received which contrasted with Piñera's projected image.”

Bloggers and Twitter users commented on various aspects of the issue, some focusing on the President's reactions, others on the TV host's treatment of Bachelet, and others delved into an analysis of what it means for politicians to react to parody.

Susana González (@kukyky) said:

ES UNA FALTA DE RESPETO JÁMAZ SE DEBERÍA IMITAR A LA MÁXIMA AUTORIDAD DEL PAÍS COMO LO ES EL SR.PRESIDENTE SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA

IT IS DISRESPECTFUL ONE SHOULD NEVER IMPERSONATE THE HIGHEST AUTHORITY OF THE COUNTRY AS IS MR. PRESIDENT SEBASTIÁN PIÑERA

Former President Michelle Bachelet and President Sebastián Piñera. Image from Wikimedia Commons, used under a Creative Commons license.

The blog Farandula y Noticias looks [es] at the effect of Bachelet's visit to the TV show that day, quoting a Twitter message by a conservative UDI (Independent Democrat Union) politician:

Otro punto que se cuestionó es el trato del conductor con la ex Mandataria, a quien terminó tratando de Presidenta. Así, el UDI Gonzalo Arenas escribió en su Twitter: “TVN en prog. Camiroaga: entrevista como reina a Bachelet; demuestra inmenso cariño a Bielsa y humilla a Piñera… El canal estatal!!!!!”.

Another issue which was questioned was the host's treatment of the former president, who ended up calling her President. UDI politician Gonzalo Arenas wrote on Twitter: “TVN in Camiroaga's [host] show: interviews Bachelet like a queen; shows huge affection to Bielsa and humiliates Piñera…it's the state channel!!!”

Manuel Fernández (@MFernandezVaras) wrote on Twitter trying to explain why some are bothered by the incident:

@MaisAngel lo que molesto no fue la imitacion de Kramer si no la seudo campaña adelantada a Bachelet

@MaisAngel what was bothersome was not Kramer's impersonation but rather the pseudo-early campaign for Bachelet [she has not announced that she will run for office after Piñera's term]

Nicolas Lillo (@NicoLillo) said:

Si Piñera sigue agarrándose con la gente más querida en Chile (Bachelet, Bielsa, Kramer) entonces la concertación seguro vuelve en 4 años!

If Piñera keeps fighting with the most loved people of Chile (Bachelet, Bielsa, Kramer) then la concertación [center-left coalition party Bachelet belongs to] will surely be back in 4 years!

Comedian Stefan Kramer by Flickr user ooscar, used under a Creative Commons license.

Don Fijote criticized [es] the TV show:

No era el momento ni el lugar para realizar una parodia de ese tipo, menos en un contexto en el que todo parecía una suerte de homenaje a la ex presidenta Michelle Bachelet. […] el guión dejaba al Piñera en el ridículo […]

Algunos tildan de quisquilloso al Gobierno. Yo no. Creo que en “Halcón y Camaleón” se cometieron errores de producción y edición periodística imperdonables.

It was not the proper time to make a parody of that type, much less in a context where everything looked like a sort of homage to former president Michelle Bachelet […] the script ridiculed Piñera […]

Some call the government nitpicky. I don't. I think that “Halcón y Camaleón” made unforgivable production and editorial mistakes.

Leaving Bachelet aside, Julio Suarez Anturi wrote [es] on his blog analyzing what this particular response from the administration and other politicians means for Chilean politics, freedom of speech and democracy:

Políticos que uno considera serios y ocupados de las necesidades del pueblo, resulta que, al contrario, están preocupados por Stefan Kramer, y piden respeto hacia la figura del Presidente.

Solo quiero anotar dos ideas. La primera, que la caricatura que hace Kramer no tiene nada de irrespetuosa. […]

La segunda idea que quiero plantear […] si el alto gobierno está preocupado por esto y los políticos pidiendo mesura, francamente estamos mal.

Porque lo que está en juego se llama libertad de expresión.

Nada menos que eso, que es característica de las democracias.

Politicians one considers serious and busy with the needs of the people, it turns out, on the contrary, are worried about Stefan Kramer, and ask for respect towards the Presidential figure.

I just want to note two things. The first, is that the caricature that Kramer presents is not disrespectful […]

The second idea I want to present is […] if the government is worried about this and politicians are asking for restraint, frankly we are doing bad.

Because what is at stake is called freedom of speech.

Nothing less than that, which is a characteristic of democracies.

He concludes,

Los políticos connotados y el alto gobierno deben estar preocupados por la manera de actuar del presidente Sebastián Piñera, y no de los cómicos y caricaturistas que ejercen su sagrado derecho de libertad de opinión. Liberta de expresión.

Por lo demás, no olvidemos la capacidad sanadora de la risa, probada clínicamente.

Notorious politicians and the government need to worry about the way president Sebastián Piñera acts, and not about comedians and cartoonists that exercise their sacred right of freedom of opinion. Freedom of speech.

As for the rest, let's not forget the healing power of laughter, clinically proven.

Álvaro Cuadra also analyzed [es] the ordeal and criticized those who want to control comedy:

El humor, contra lo que muchos piensan, no degrada la democracia […]

Pretender controlar la expresión humorística bajo cualquier forma, no sólo es políticamente torpe y reprobable sino que evidencia una escasa sensibilidad y, en el límite, falta de inteligencia. […]

Responder al humor con mal humor es un mal chiste.

Humor, contrary to what many people think, does not demean democracy […]

Trying to control humorous expression in any way, is not only politically clumsy and reprehensible but [it also] makes evident a scarce sensitivity and, borderline, lack of intelligence […]

Replying to humor with ill humor makes a bad joke.

A lot more has been said on the issue. Radio station Bio-Bio reports [es] that the administration's spokeswoman, Ena Von Baer, assured that the president's image is not in question after the episode. Also, La Tercera wrote [es] that Lily Pérez, another conservative politician, said that the media is exaggerating the issue, and that they applauded Kramer for his impersonations during the elections and doesn't see why that would change now that Sebastián Piñera is the president.

As a final thought, in Blog de Hermogenes we read [es]:

Los políticos tienen que estar siempre dispuestos a perder votaciones y elecciones, pero lo que no deberían perder nunca es el sentido del humor.

Politicians always need to be willing to lose votes and elections, but what they should never lose is their sense of humor.

2 comments

  • Andre

    Silvia,
    I am happy I found your blog… It is the second of your articles I read. Keep up the great work.

    On the Subject I believe the Government should let it go and not take Comedy to serious.

    PS: I hate CAPTCHA’s & usually need 2 attempts of getting them right so I can comment

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