Searching for Humor in TSA Screenings

The viral "Don't touch my junk" tape touches a nerve – and inspires parodies. Laughter may be our last line of defense.

By Jere Hester
|  Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010  |  Updated 5:28 AM PDT
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In the latest web video from NMA, the Taiwanese quick-turnaround animated news parody outfit, Osama bin Laden is seen laughing in a cave as he watches a TV report about the Transportation Security Administration body scan/pat-down flap.

“Some people are already beginning to say that the terrorists have won,” the narrator notes.

The video is among the spoofs – and even T-shirts and mugs – inspired by the viral tape of California man warning a TSA agent "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested" at San Diego International Airport this month. The incident clearly touched a nerve – and touched off some humor – at a time when some travelers are forced to choose to between two forms of humiliation just to get on a plane.

There's nothing funny about what the TSA is trying to prevent, whether or not you agree with the screening procedures. But when it comes to maintaining perspective and a modicum of sanity amid scary, often-crazy times, humor may be one of our last lines of defense.

So when Stephen Colbert quips, “If our grandmothers are not being stroked by strangers, the terrorists have won," we're going to choose to see the comic absurdity in the sad point we've reached.

We're also finding laughs in Michael Adams' satiric rap video, “Don’t Touch My Junk (The TSA Hustle),” which sprinkles clever references to Big Brother amid goofy rhymes like "I'll have you arrested... I don't want to be molested."

And we're digging repeated viewings of perhaps the funniest take on the controversy so far: the "Saturday Night Live" mock TSA PSA, shot like a sleazy, late-night sex hotline commercial.

"The TSA: It's our business to touch yours," goes the tagline/punchline, delivered in a sultry voice.

Whether you're heading to airport on the busiest travel day of the year or spending Thanksgiving at home, check out the videos below for a few chuckles – and hope, in the long run, that we’ll have the last laugh.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NY City News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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