Friday, 20 February 2009

elettaria: (Triffid geranium)
The BBC has published an article about a cartoonist depicting Obama as a dead chimpanzee, which has outraged a vast number of people. The next two paragraphs are the ones I've just sent as a comment to the article, though knowing the BBC it won't get published.

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Cartoonists and satirists need to be aware of the connotations of images they use, including historical connotations. Using a chimpanzee to depict a black man* is the equivalent of using a sheep to depict a Jew. Both images have been used repeatedly as ways of attacking those particular ethnic groups, accusing them of being animals. These attacks have often been in the form of cartoons, such as those made by the Nazis.

The author's intent isn't really the point. The text, in this case the cartoon, is what matters. It's what's out there and what will be read by many different people in many different ways. Some interpretations may be the sort which are so far out that you have to squint to see where they're coming from and only a small handful of people will think of them. Some interpretations will be so obvious that a large proportion of people, even the majority, will think of them. The old insults about black men being animals is in the second category, and the reference to an obscure news story is in the first. The cartoonists seem to be so far removed from reality that they've got those two the wrong way around.

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This is really niggling at me. )
elettaria: (Triffid geranium)
The BBC has published an article about a cartoonist depicting Obama as a dead chimpanzee, which has outraged a vast number of people. The next two paragraphs are the ones I've just sent as a comment to the article, though knowing the BBC it won't get published.

-----------------------------

Cartoonists and satirists need to be aware of the connotations of images they use, including historical connotations. Using a chimpanzee to depict a black man* is the equivalent of using a sheep to depict a Jew. Both images have been used repeatedly as ways of attacking those particular ethnic groups, accusing them of being animals. These attacks have often been in the form of cartoons, such as those made by the Nazis.

The author's intent isn't really the point. The text, in this case the cartoon, is what matters. It's what's out there and what will be read by many different people in many different ways. Some interpretations may be the sort which are so far out that you have to squint to see where they're coming from and only a small handful of people will think of them. Some interpretations will be so obvious that a large proportion of people, even the majority, will think of them. The old insults about black men being animals is in the second category, and the reference to an obscure news story is in the first. The cartoonists seem to be so far removed from reality that they've got those two the wrong way around.

-----------------------------

This is really niggling at me. )

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