Looking for something?

2/19/09

No One at the NY Post Knows Anything About History

I have to comment on this cartoon that recently ran in the NY Post. A lot of people are offended by it's racist implications, but others are defending it saying that the implications are unintentional.

I wanted to repost the comment I left on Feministing:

Look...

I guess I can kind of (maybe, sorta) see how this cartoon MIGHT not have been intended to be racist. There has been a crazy giant chimp in the papers lately. There is the idea of stupid things being written "by monkeys" (& people never seem to be able to separate monkeys & chimps for some reason). BUT that would mean that neither the artist who penned this NOR the editor who let it go to press both had ANY IDEA that there was anyway this could be presented in a racial context.

That's like suggesting that only after the backlash did they say: "Oh wait, our president is Black?" "Oh wait, there's a history of black people being compared to monkeys/chimps/apes, etc?" "Oh, do Black people not much CARE for being compared to primates?"

It COULD be POSSIBLE that they were 100% unaware of this comparison or that they didn't see how connected the two would be when you place them RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. But even if you assume any of that is true, what you're left with are two of the most ignorant, most blinded by privilege, most isolated people I've ever heard of within the mass-produced media. And that actually makes me even more sad. Because how did they get those jobs when the rest of us are on unemployment?

Honestly, I've said things before that I realized a heartbeat later "Oh shit, I hope that didn't sound racist, because I totally didn't mean it that way!" or had someone point out that what I said was offensive. We all make oversights or speak without thinking. But do you know how much work goes into a single cartoon?? How many original ideas did the artist reject? How much time sketching, revamping & rethinking happened before the first stroke of finalizing ink touched paper? Was there never a moment's doubt? And then sending it off to the paper...how many hands did it pass through? And no one saw a problem? No one thought "You know, this may get some backlash..."

And I'm not saying that having something that's shocking, offensive, "edge-y" or what have you means you SHOULDN'T print it. That's part of what art does. Some things SHOULD get under our skin, make us angry, make us write angry letters. It's actually good to know that times being what they are, people are still shock-able. All of that can be a great thing, a gift even. (Although, even if that was the intention, this cartoon fails 100% at being clever or insightful) But then don't be surprised if some of the backlash is negative. Don't act like you had no idea. Because either you're bigoted & completely intended the multiple meanings or you had NO idea & you're a fucking idiot. I don't know which people would rather be...


That being said, I was immediately horrified at this cartoon. Not only does it invoke so much racist history (specifically the history of cartoons, caricatures & vaudevillian-type impersonation) but it is so unnecessarily violent. Seriously...wtf?


What irritates me even more is when people say "Oh who cares, it's just a cartoon!" As an artist, I don't think there is any such thing as "just a cartoon". Sure, it's not a very good cartoon. But art is such a significant part of culture that the best & worst of it represents the best & worst things about our culture. A good political cartoon adds wit & insight with political ideology & artful rendering. Whereas this particular one has a bloody chimp with not-so-subtle racial implications in regards to our first Black/biracial president.

Just sayin'.
Read more: http://www.blogdoctor.me/2007/02/expandable-post-summaries.html#ixzz1Ygp5vxLJ

2 comments:

  1. yea...add to that the fact that the actual incident involving the chimp was horrible and traumatic, and it was too soon to even joke about that. The poor lady! People got up in arms about the race thing (which is terrible, I'm not writing it off), but I don't hear anybody talking about the victim of the actual incident, it's just an f-ed up cartoon all the way around.

    Also, thanks for your comment on my most recent post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's an excellent point too. I remember hearing that story and thinking "Who thought it was a good idea to keep a giant chimp?" And did this cartoon need to be so friggin' graphic?

    Thanks for stopping by (and actually reading my blog!)

    ReplyDelete

Sociable