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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Decoding the New York Post Chimpanzee Cartoon.



Some people view The New York Post Chimpanzee Cartoon by Sean Delonas as racist, others seem to think that calling the cartoon racist is just another example of people looking for publicity.

Perhaps what is throwing people off is not the cartoon, but the cartoon caption. The cartoon caption "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," does not fit the cartoon images.

The cartoonist appears to have juxtaposed three completely unrelated events while creating the cartoon, and strangely enough, forgot to actually add one of those three elements into either the cartoon or the caption. Those three elements include the stimulus bill, the chimpanzee that was recently shot and killed, and the Geico Caveman slogan, "So easy even a caveman could do it."

Where I think the cartoonist went wrong was thinking of the Geico Caveman commercial slogan, but forgetting to incorporate it into the caption or the cartoon. If the chimpanzee on the ground had instead been the Geico Caveman with a stimulus document on his chest, and the caption read, "So easy even a Caveman thought he could write it", there probably would have been far fewer complaints of racism, because we've all seen the Caveman commercials.

Or, keeping the cartoon exactly as is, the caption could be changed to, "his stimulus bananas never arrived"... The powerful message being that the stimulus package is not going to reach anywhere near enough people to be useful. Again, no racism message. Or, the caption could have read, "He got his stimulus package check today, but all he really wanted was bananas". Whats the point of fixing the roads if the cars driving on them aren't made in america, aka, the chimp got his check, but could not find local bananas to buy.

The fixation over the IMAGE within the cartoon, rather than the CAPTION, points to a disturbing societal trend of caring more about image rather than verbal content. If simply changing the caption can eliminate the cartoon's presumed racist angle, then why isn't anybody up in arms over the lack verbal cleverness and clarity by the cartoonist?

Am I upset, yes, because I can't draw. I'm upset that I get ideas but can't draw them, yet someone who knows how to draw, but can't think cleverly, is able to get their sterile and unfunny message out to a big audience.

5 comments:

Lyn said...

Interesting point you make about society responding more to an image than to the verbal message.

I feel it's just a cartoon. Sad for the lady whose pet chimp attacked her and had to be shot. I would not have drawn a political cartoon with an image of her tragedy.

Other than that I am positive it's not racist. I should know I am racist. The caption in the cartoon is about the frenzy of the Democrats and Obama in passing their ridiculous spending bill. That's it people. It's not a threat or a racist attack.

Anonymous said...

Isn’t it interesting to see where black america focuses their time and attention? And they wonder why they are the “only” race that is yet to make something of themselves as a people (those are their words,not mine). Somehow, they have all but forgotten that Obama is 1/2 white and was in fact raised 100% by his white family. His father, the black half of Obama left him to fin for himself when he was in diapers - in order to selfishly pursue his own dreams - that never came true. 100% of Obama’s success can be attributed to his white family, i.e, his white mother, grandmother and grandfather who raised him, educated him and cared for him - sorry folks that’s just how it is…..deal with it. What did Chimps ever do to deserve being compared to Obama or Black People?

Alessandro Machi said...

It is important to note that ONE HALF of all non African American people who arrived on US soil in the 1600's and 1700's were indentured servants here to pay off a debt.

I have empathy for the path that African Americans were taken on when they were forced to come to America.

Non African American indentured servants died on the way over to this country if their food ration was not enough to sustain them for the journey by sea. If the indentured servant went through their food allotment to quickly, or the journey took longer than expected, they would starve to death.

Or, perhaps they would be given additional food at the price of extended indenturedness. "You want a loaf of bread, add a month to your servitude time".

If the indentured servant survived, and they fulfilled the terms for paying off their debt, they eventually became free.. Sometimes this debt was increased through trickery and manipulation, so a one year debt could be manipulated into a longer servitude debt by "catching" the debtor breaking a law.

African Americans were NOT given a debt to be paid off. Any debt to be paid off would have actually, in the long run, been preferable in exchange for the freedom of the family lineage.

But to not be able to pay off a debt ever, while accruing wealth for others, can really mess up a race's ability to settle into a new surrounding that they didn't even plan on going to in the first place.

However, I am not for reparations because I think it would create more present day hostility.

So, was the cartoon racist? Perhaps, but more so, it just wasn't a good cartoon. The cartoon was excellent at drawing attention to itself, but there really wasn't a coherent message worthy of the attention the cartoon is receiving.

Annie said...

Once again, the people who are crying racism here are the racist ones. The bill was written by congress. So the persons who automatically think a monkey = Obama are the racist ones. Got that Al Sharpton? MSNBC? Get a grip.

Alessandro Machi said...

I agree with you that automatically equating the chimpanzee with any person is a stretch. The problem is, just what does that chimpanzee have to do with the stimulus bill?

If your answer is, the chimpanzee has nothing to do with the stimulus bill, then equating the chimpanzee to a human, even if it is only a 1% connection, makes that a MORE LIKELY scenario than any other.

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