Does Animating Penn State Scandal Desensitize, Distract Us from Horror of Story?

Using the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State as fodder for humorous commentary has proven to be a difficult task, as well it should given the gravity, depravity and the horror of a university-wide cover-up that has cost Joe Paterno his job and, more importantly, left a host of young men scarred for life, likely irreparably so.

Whether attempting to "make light" of the Penn State scandal is in good taste is a different story entirely. As expected, Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese animation company known for its, shall we say, unusual spins on American news stories, threw its hat into the high-risk ring of social commentary surrounding the Nittany Lions with their own animated retelling of the events that have rocked Happy Valley in recent weeks.

The first word that comes to mind, as is usually the case with NMA's takeoffs, is "bizarre." From Joe Paterno in a pope hat to a tornado ripping through State College to Sandusky pictured as a Bengal tiger attacking a zebra in a shower to Michael Jackson dancing in front of pews filled with bears, the cartoon takes metaphor to the extreme, obscuring the details of the case while turning the whole fiasco into an exercise in absurdity.

As opposed to the likes of South Park, The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, each of which looked to push the envelope to varying degrees while still staying true (more or less) to the heart of the matter, NMA's attempt comes off as silly, at best, and blatantly disrespectful to the victims and their families, at worst.

Keep in mind, though, that NMA isn't exactly known for doing things tastefully or accurately, but rather attempting to provide commentary from a distinctly international perspective. Granted, they were not the first to compare the Penn State scandal to the one that has plagued the Catholic church for years now and, to their credit, they did raise the question of institutional operation that lays at or near the heart of all of this.

That being said, offense and outrage are more-than-reasonable responses to attempts at comedy like this, which seem to make light of an unbelievably heavy set of circumstances.

TAGS: Big Ten Football, , , Penn State Football