JoLIE 2:2/2009


Back to issue page






Paulo Alexandre e Castro

Centro de Filosofia da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal






Massimo Bontempelli said on the verge of the last century that humour is the only medium which one does not take seriously even when one says serious things. In fact, everyday discourse practices necessarily demand and call for a sense of humour as a hermeneutic procedure and a way to perceive reality (be it, for example, of political, social, economic kind). Yet, more than a process of demystification and deconstruction of reality, humour is a kind of quasi-disclosure of truth, which allows for the advent of critical judgement and of social criticism. We find out, for example, in Borat’s sort of humour, not only a cultural subversion of Kazakhstan but also a certain presentation of human nature, which filed Sacha Baron Cohen with a lawsuit with several accusations. On the one hand, he passes on to us a certain insight on the United States of America, which can only be perceived in a humorous scenario. On the other hand, if Bush makes us laugh, it is not because he is gifted by theatrical representation but because 20 million of Americans believe that Elvis can become alive. How could we understand Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore) or Life is a Miracle (Emir Kusturica) without the subversive exercise of humour? Or how could we learn about the ‘truth’ of the contemporary society from the movie Shrek?


Key Words: Subversive humour; Intelligence, Borat; Reality; Society; Beliefs; Tolerance.





Baudelaire, C. (2001). Da essência do riso. Almada: Íman Edições.


Benjamin, W. (1973/[1933]). Discursos interrumpidos I. (J. Aguire, Trans.). Madrid: Taurus.


Bergson, H. (1993). Le rire. O riso – Ensaio sobre o significado do cómico. (G. de Castilho, Trans.). Lisboa: Guimarães Editores.


Bierce, A. (2006). O dicionário do diabo. (R. Lopes, Trans.). Lisboa: Tinta-da-China.


Freud, S. (1973). «El Humor» e «El Chiste y su relación com lo inconsciente». In Obras Completas de Sigmund Freud. (L.L.-B. y de Torres, Trans.). Madrid: Biblioteca Nuova.


Debord, G. (1972). A sociedade do espetáculo. Lisboa: Afrodite.


Girard, R. (2007). A voz desconhecida do real – Uma teoria dos mitos arcaicos e modernos. Trad. Filipe Duarte. Lisboa: Edição do Instituto Piaget.


Mongin, O. (1998). A violência das imagens Ou como eliminá-la? (J. Ruas, Trans.). Lisboa: Editorial Bizâncio.


Pirandello, L. (1996). Il humorismo. O humorismo. (D. Macedo, Trans.). São Paulo: Ed. Experimento.


Sepúlveda, L. (2006). Quem pensa…perde! In O poder dos sonhos. (H. T. e Castro, Trans.). Porto: Edições ASA.


Zengotita, T. de (2003). Mediated: How the media shapes your world and the way you live in it. New York: Bloomsbury.


Zizec, S. (2003). Die Puppe und der Zwerg, A marioneta e o anão – o cristianismo entre perversão e subversão. (C. C-M. de Oliveira, Trans.). Lisboa: Relógio D’Água Editores.


Zizec, S. (2006). A subjectividade por vir – Ensaios críticos sobre a voz obscena. (C.C.M. de Oliveira, Trans.). Lisboa: Relógio D’Água Editores.



How to cite this article: Castro, P. A. (2009). De Borat e Bush: Sub-Versões Humorísticas e Humor Subversivo em Torno da Realidade. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 2(2), 75-84. DOI:



For details on subscription, go to: