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Cartoon in NY Post... Racist?


Pangloss
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I'm not sure I get this thing. Take a look at this cartoon:

 

18_02_2009---17_50_490015a.jpg

 

Yes, it's clearly a reference to the recent news story about the Connecticut woman who was attacked by a chimpanzee and was subsequently shot by police, but the thing I don't understand is why the cartoonist thought that the reader would be able to make a humorous connection with the president and his stimulus bill. Why would the police shoot the president? I don't get it.

 

Can someone explain the joke to me?

 

I don't see how I can figure out whether or not it's racist if I don't understand it. But if the only connection between the chimpanzee and the president is the comparison of African Americans to apes, then surely that is an example of racism, isn't it?

 

What do you all think?

 

Here's a link to a story about this:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article5766822.ece

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So you're saying that there's an established tradition of comparing presidents to chimpanzees that I just wasn't aware of? Something the Post readership would have immediately connected on?

 

I suppose that's possible. Seems odd, though. Did that start with Bush?

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The moron that let it get through the gate to make it into print would be immediately fired under my watch.

 

I believe that it was in EXTREMELY poor taste.

Most likely racist (if the cartoonist meant what most of us think he meant, it definitely was)

 

And not even a little bit funny.

 

On the other hand, what WAS funny was the news clip of Al Sharpton leading the protest.

We are talking about the most powerful man on the planet Earth here.

Like the most powerful man on the planet needs Al Sharpton for anything.

On the other hand, Al Sharpton needs a cause to lead these days, so it was probably the best thing that's come along for him in a while.

Edited by DrDNA
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It's important to consider history, and this particular cartoonist has a long, bad history of cartoons which make fun of individuals based on sex, race, disability, and sexuality.

 

Even if we ignore that he's an established jackass, there is a long history of derogatory references to African Americans as apes, something that cannot possibly be compared to "well they compared lincoln to one once, and a few times with Bush". It's like those kids in Louisiana hanging a noose from a tree that the black students ate under - even if they weren't aware of the racist overtones, that doesn't invalidate the racism present.

 

Mokele

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Yeah I don't know about this whole chimp=president iconography. So any appearance of a chimpanzee in a political cartoon means "The President"? How come I never got the memo on this?

 

Y'all could be right, but at the very least it seems ill-advised.

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I just took the cartoon to mean that a monkey could have written the bill. Kind of like the Geico commercials - so easy, a caveman can do it. But with Sharpton and his ilk, you can't use rational explanation, you must kiss his ass.

 

The paper was stupid in trying to get back at him with their apology, they should have just left it at "sorry if you see a black man in every ape cartoon"

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Why would a monkey write a bill? Is that another icon I've missed somehow?

 

Wow, I'm really starting to wonder about my education!

 

You've never heard the phrase "Detail those instructions so that even a monkey could do it" or "Even a trained monkey could do that job?"

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I thought the current media meme was that the stimulus bill was extremely complex -- so much so that nobody even bothered to read the whole thing. Perhaps it's something more along the lines of "it's all gobbledygook, so only a monkey with no English could have written it"? I'm kinda grasping at straws here.

 

So you don't think it was a reference to Obama at all, but rather a statement by the artist that perhaps the stimulus bill is an unintelligent course of action, or something along those lines, yes?

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I just took the cartoon to mean that a monkey could have written the bill.

 

That's how I took it, too. As in: the bill was stupid, as if it were written by a monkey.

 

"It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times? You stupid monkey!" Monty Burns

 

 

OTOH,

"We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true." Robert Wilensky

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I don't buy the president = monkey bit. Bush was linked that way due to several photos that were parodied with similar facial expressions. Reagan acted *with* a monkey but wasn't compared to one. The Lincoln to Bush bridge is a pretty long one.

 

I also don't see the racist angle. I think it's just supposed to be a topical tie to the recent shooting and the fact that the stimulus bill may be incomprehensible to many.

 

With all the other brilliant cartoonists and cartoons available, I don't know why the Post picked this one to run. That's the part I don't understand.

 

I'll bet one of my favorite cartoonists, Tom Swanson, could do much better, and may even be persuaded to post his effort in this thread. Tom's work is on a par artistically, and has the added benefit of being actually funny.

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Honestly, I think they meant to imply monkeying around with the stimulus package. But considering the background of our historical references to black folk and "porch monkeys" and apes, there's no way to avoid that interpretation. It was stupid on their part to run this cartoon. With a little creativity they could have tweaked it to eliminate the racist implications.

 

Art is subjective so the artist must be willing to go where he/she feels they need to go. But the paper is a business and they are not bound by artistic purity, so it should have been trashed, I think.

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And this is the reason why they chose that cartoon. It was interprettable in different ways.....

 

Isn't that what makes great art (not to say this cartoon is great)? IMO the concept probably came about from the story of the chimp being shot and hearing something along the lines of "a monkey could have written that stimulus bill" and putting the two together. The realization that it could be interpreted in different (especially negative) ways probably came very shortly afterward and surely would have occurred to the artist. If Mokele's estimation of the artist is correct, their motivation seems pretty obvious and expected. What may be harder to discern is the motives of those who published it, unless they thought there was little likelihood of much backlash (which seems stupid in light of how anything that might be considered racial is verboten these days).

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I don't get the cartoon either. I had put it down as a cultural thing but now I'm not so sure. Someone over there should have got the joke, shouldn't they?

 

This little tidbit has made the news down here, but is being subtly painted in a different light. Those protesting against the paper seem more upset that someone has poked fun at their new messiah than anything else.

 

Bush was often compared to a monkey, it's been all over the net for years, yet to use the same image for Obama is taboo?

 

Is comparing the current Prsident to a chimp bad? Or is it the idea of dissing the current President that is wrong? The lasting impression is that it's the latter. (I'm not saying it's true, just that it's the impression being given)

 

TBH, while Mr Obama may be a good President, from the outside the Presidency is starting to smell a lot like a "Cult of Personality", which is causing some of to wonder what will happen when he fails to walk on water.

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...considering the background of our historical references to black folk and "porch monkeys" and apes, there's no way to avoid that interpretation. It was stupid on their part to run this cartoon. With a little creativity they could have tweaked it to eliminate the racist implications...

 

Exactly. I'm surprised some here just don't get that.

 

Bee

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Bush was often compared to a monkey, it's been all over the net for years, yet to use the same image for Obama is taboo?

 

Because then it would appear to be making fun of Obama's race, rather than his intellect or ability to do the job. Most people in this culture would "get that", but that doesn't mean we have to not put chimps, fried chicken, watermelon or any other possible stereotyped symbol in cartoons in reference to the government.

 

Is comparing the current Prsident to a chimp bad? Or is it the idea of dissing the current President that is wrong? The lasting impression is that it's the latter. (I'm not saying it's true, just that it's the impression being given)

 

It's the first President that isn't a white male, so there will be some sensitivities. If the President was gay or female or an atheist, we wouldn't want people making issues of those demographics. IMO, if they we displaying the chimp as Obama, the worst thing would be that it was shot dead. That would be inappropriate regardless of race.

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So two wrongs make a right?

I'm not talking wrong or right, merely noting that it was common for the previous President to be lampooned in this way without major outcry. I'm commenting on the reactions rather than the cartoon.

 

Considering the incredible partisanship in US politics, I find this sort of thing fascinating. I'm curious how similar incidents will play out in the future.:D

 

I think john5746 chipped it, it's a cultural thing in the US. Lacking the cultural background I don't understand why it's deemed insulting. It's a political cartoon, it's meant to be insulting to somebody.

It's the first President that isn't a white male, so there will be some sensitivities.

You might to watch that, it's amazing what people can be "sensitive" to if it shuts up their opposition.;)

 

Personally, when it comes to political satire and lampooning I go with bascule;

I'd be totally cool with someone likening our current (or any former) president to a giant mound of poo if they wanted to.
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