Friday, February 09, 2007

Cartooned Contrasts

As I perused the listing of past speakers here at UIUC, I found that on November 3rd, 2005 a speech was given. It was called “The Slow-Motion Suicide of the American Empire.” It was presentated by Ted Rall. The previous day he delivered a lecture at Foellinger Auditorium.

As the school website described the speaker, "Rall is an internationally known journalist, columnist and cartoonist, as well as an outspoken critic of the Bush administration." His cartoons are posted online, but I've decided not to provide a link, in the interest of discernment. He portays Bush as a buffoon, and provides a distinctly liberal view of current events.

In his February 1st, 2007 cartoon, he spotlights Bush, thrusting such words as "I'm not addicted to Crystal Meth-Heroin Speedballs of any kind" into his mouth. Bush is, of course, decked out in a general's medallion-strewn outfit.

In his February 5th, 2007 cartoon, he portrays a drip-nosed Bush lecturing a mass grave of Iraqis. His words? "Step up and finish the job, you lazy, good-for-nothing Iraqi bums!"

Question 1) Is this what Rall considers funny? Question 2) Why would such a cartoonist be invited to a college campus to speak? Question 3) How does his pessimistic view enrich his audience?

Translation: if you're looking for good humor, look elsewhere.

Another option is to find cartoons by Wayne Stayskal. Granted, he comes from the other side of the political fence, so you could say that I'm more likely to appreciate his work from the word "Go." But reading his cartoons doesn't inspire me to go out and puke, which is the effect that other cartoonists' work has had (see above).

Instead, Staskal's work helps me see irony in a situation. For example, in his January 22nd cartoon, Stayskal shows a man ringing a doorbell. He's holding a sign with the words "Hillary for President." As he rings, the curtain at the front window parts, and a sign saying, "Nobody is Home" pops out.

In his January 1st, 2007 cartoon, Stayskal shows someone taking a poll.
Question Man: "Would you vote for Hillary?"
Man in house: "NO!"
(Next frame)
Man to wife: "Would you believe somebody asked if I'd let Bill back in the White House again?"

Of course, if you sympathesize with Hillary and her campaign, this cartoon probably won't be as funny to you. But does it sicken you?

Question 1) Why is this funny to Stayskal? Question 2) Why isn't a cartoonist like Stayskal invited to campus to speak? Question 3) How does his view of reality affect his audience?

It's just a constrast I see when I read the cartoons by Rall, and those by Stayskal. How do they treat those they don't agree with? Do they libel them, or do they poke fun? What is their view of reality?

You may think I'm overanalyzing, but I think this is an important point. Yes, we have free speech in this country (praise God!). But how do we choose to exercise that right? As for me, I'm no Bush-lover. At the same time, I'm no America-hater.

Rall obviously disagrees with Bush, and mocks his speech, clothes, intention, and morals. He distorts Bush's appearance into a nearly unrecognizable form, and has him freely uttering nasty or even unpardonable phrases.

In the examples given above, Stayskal has no need to portray Hillary directly. Even is known about her character and history that the comments of other characters is enough. He doesn't have to question her drug use to cause his readers to laugh. He doesn't portray her with frizzed-out hair, staring eyes bounded by mascara, and a mouth screaming vehemently. But of course, he couldn't do that because that would be "hate speech."

Are liberals (with their American death wish) willing to use the label "hate speech" on their own words?

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