Friday, February 20, 2009

Weingarten on Prickly City, Doonesbury, Delonas' chimp

From the 2/10 Chatalogical Humor:

Washington, D.C.: Gene - what did you think of last Friday's Prickly City where they call Rush Limbaugh a jerk? It actually made me laugh.

Gene Weingarten: I would like this better if it were funny. I applaud the stance, but I think political cartoonists -- and political standup comics -- have an obligation to be funny.


"...I think political cartoonists -- and political standup comics -- have an obligation to be funny." : Unless their name is Trudeau, the Garfield of political "humor."

Gene Weingarten: I was thinking specifically of Garry Trudeau and Doonesbury. He is the perfect example of the political satirist who sees his mission as humor first.

and 2/17's Chatalogical Humor:

Alexandria, VA: Hi,

No, Prickly City wasn't funny, and did you leave the "ly" off your link intentionally, or Freudian slip of a sort?

Gene Weingarten: I always call it Prick City, because of its politics. Been doing that for years.

Richmond, Va.: I have a great Ralph Steadman story for you. At some point he was in town doing a book signing for his illustrated version of "Animal Farm" (it's so amazing). He was giving each signature a unique ink-blot and a fan came up and said "do something really crazy to mine!" So Steadman took out his lighter and set it on fire.

Gene Weingarten: Excellent. I have that Animal Farm book. It is brilliant.


UPDATED 2.20.09

Gene Weingarten: I want to begin with an important clarification. In yesterday's update I was asked if I found THIS photograph interesting in light of the sharply debated prior discussion involving posteriors. I responded with laughter. At some point during the day yesterday, the link mysteriously shifted to a different picture, namely THIS one, which was a highly controversial political cartoon from the New York Post. This cartoon was seen by many people as a racist commentary directed at President Obama. This one I would not have laughed at.

But let's talk about it!

It's by Post cartoonist Sean Delonas, a man whose work I have read and loathed for years. Delonas is strident, unfunny, rabidly right-wing and a virulent bigot, portraying gay people in a way so revolting you would think it's parody if you saw it in The Onion. It's not. Here is Sean Delonas, for example, on gay marriage. Here is Sean Delonas on Governor McGreevey. See that oddly raised leg? That is Delonas's signature move to show someone is gay: Gays are prancing lilyhoppers!

So what do we make of the furor over the chimp cartoon? Is it racist? Does Delonas get the benefit of the doubt?

Sure. I'll give it to him. This cartoon is interpretable without racial overtones: The stimulus bill is stupid, he thinks: It might as well have been written by a rabid chimp. The cartoon coincided with the story of the crazed chimp in Connecticut who ripped off a woman's face, and was shot to death by police. Obama wasn't really the author of the stimulus bill, though his was the most public face behind it. Mostly, I think comparing a black person to an ape is so archaic, so Depression-era, and so primitive that even a Neanderthal like Delonas wouldn't do it.

No, what Delonas would and did do is create a totally pathetic cartoon using the unspeakable tragedy of the chimp attack, which left a woman horrifyingly maimed, to make some lame political point about the stimulus package. It's inappropriate, unclever, and makes senseless use of a shockingly violent image. Pure Delonas, pure crap, but not racist.

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