Winner of the 2013 Herblock award; 2015 Society of Illustrators Silver Medal recipient; 2015 first place AAN award for cartooning; 2015 Pulitzer finalist.

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Another day, another cartoon controversy


Who knew a bullet-riddled chimp would end up being the American equivalent of Muhammad with a bomb in his turban? Actually you could probably predict that we were going to be dealing with stuff like this under our first black president. We’ll see more of it as the nearly all-white profession struggles to explain their political metaphors involving primates and Gangsta Rap over the next four years. Socialist Godzilla destroying America? Fine. Comrade King Kong capturing a white woman labeled “American Values.” That’s bad.

To tell you the truth I don’t think Delonas’ intent was to portray the chimp as Obama at all. But when shit blows up in your face this bad, you know you overlooked something in the idea phase.

I didn’t read the Post regularly when I lived in the city, but I do remember Delonas’ work as painfully clunky. I tend to agree with Bors — it’s unlikely that he meant for the chimp to represent anything in particular. It was just the news story of the day, and he was doing that thing that daiily editorial cartoonists do where they take the story everyone’s talking about and slap on a few labels and call it “commentary.” (Bors has a particularly brilliant parody of the genre, here.) My guess is that Delonas simply wasn’t bright enough to understand that “political metaphors involving primates” are going to be perceived differently under the first african american president. (That other cartoonist I linked to in an earlier post, also via Bors — thanks for doing all the heavy lifting, Matt! — is an entirely different story. That cartoon seems to have been pulled from the server, but it had two panels: one with a large scary black man telling a white guy to hand over his money or “I’m gonna put a cap in your ass,” the other with a trim black President of the United States telling a white guy “I’m going to put a cap on your salary.” That one’s hard to justify as a simple oversight, a failure to recognize the changing racial context of the country.)

Incidentally, did you know I am psychic? It’s true! I know without even looking that out there in the vast wilds of the interent, there are right wing bloggers complaining that George Bush was often portrayed as a dumb chimp, so what’s wrong with drawing Barack Obama as a big dead black monkey? And also if black people can use the “n” word when talking to each other, why can’t white people? Yargle bargle blarg snort.

Another example of my eerie ability: without even so much as a google search, I can state with absolute confidence that earlier in the month, Delonas drew at least one cartoon featuring people standing on the wing of an airplane. And maybe the airplane was labeled “the economy,” and the passengers were, I don’t know, “Congress,” or maybe “the American People.” At any rate, you get the idea.

Update: can’t believe I missed this!

posted by Tom Tomorrow at 8:53 AM | link

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