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Bin Laden Lives...As a Joke: A Few Brief Clips.

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn May 2, 2011 at 1:19AM

For many Americans, Osama bin Laden was a shadowy presence on par with Freddy Krueger, a phantom symbol for fear rather than a flesh-and-blood threat. The news of his death at American hands has been met with such high levels of jubilance partly because the words "bin Laden killed" sound so surreal. How do you kill an idea? Well, putting a bullet in the head of the real deal is certainly a good start.
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For many Americans, Osama bin Laden was a shadowy presence on par with Freddy Krueger, a phantom symbol for fear rather than a flesh-and-blood threat. The news of his death at American hands has been met with such high levels of jubilance partly because the words "bin Laden killed" sound so surreal. How do you kill an idea? Well, putting a bullet in the head of the real deal is certainly a good start.

Matt Zoller Seitz's Salon piece that positioned bin Laden as one of the best directors of the past decade tussles with the late Al Qaeda leader's legacy as a master image maker. Over the past few years, bin Laden's mug became synonymous with modern American paranoia, and many people without the CIA connections to track him down tried a very different approach: Killing him with laughter. Here are a few of those attempts that I'll never forget:

I've never been a huge fan of "Family Guy," but the show landed two good bin Laden gags, the second of which opened its straight-to-DVD movie:


"South Park" dealt with bin Laden a few times, most recently while flaying "Jersey Shore":


The "South Park" guys no longer have to play the wishful thinking game (and I have no doubt they've already begun plotting their bin laden-goes-to-hell episode):


"Bin laden hosts a show on C-SPAN": From just this past weekend at the White House Correspondents Dinner, a crack from Seth Meyers elicits a somewhat subdued grin from Obama, who must have been thinking about the events taking place overseas: