There's been a lot of controversey over the New York Post cartoon showing two cops shooting a chimp.
Those defending the cartoon seem to have this to say: (a) the cartoonist didn't mean it, (b) "I" didn't see the connection (c) anyway its just a cartoon (d) Al Sharpton is a total tool and/or (e) whats wrong with showing Obama as a dead chimp anyway?
1. The problem with (a) and (b) is that whilst its true that interpretations of any cartoon are always somewhat subjective, and authorial intention can differ from what the reader gets, we would expect anyone peddling in visual communication (as the cartoonist and editors are) to be aware of a link as salient as this one (obama= monkey killed by violent means), despite what these folks
have to say.
Linking imagery from two current events is a common enough gambit for cartoonists, but failure to think through the implications feels very sloppy ; its what they do for a living - you wouldn't go round excusing a bomb expert who
negligently blows something up by saying " i might have cut that red wire myself too" :p
2. Political cartoon and satires have been a powerful tool in communication for ages, dismissing something as 'just a cartoon' doesn't really work - its the reason why politicians in Singapore have never allowed negative political cartoons of government figures in the media. The use of cartoons during the Reformation also tells its own story :)
3. If [insert name of someone you dislike] spoke out against child abuse, it would still be relevant; so Al Sharpton or not the criticism still stands, contrary to the New York Post's attack on 'opportunists'...
4. (e) enters into trickier waters.. George Bush was depicted as a monkey
often enough, so what makes Obama off limits? Racism is of course the key issue here - similar to issues were raised by Spain's Beijing-bound basketball team
, or any use of the word "Golliwog
". I guess it usually boils down to how sensitive you are these things; in this case though its more about the issue raised earlier: that the cartoonist and New York Post editors should (in professional terms) have been aware of the connotations.
If they weren't, a less defensive apology would have been nice, and if they were, well, they're probably in the right kind of hot soup now....