While I have never shied away from my conservative viewpoints, I rarely discuss politics outside of the occasional comment and the fact that Big Hollywood is in my RSS feed list. (They do discuss politics in entertainment media, and that obviously includes the storytelling side.) That makes me no different from any other critic of any media format liberal or conservative. And while I get sick of the Bush/Cheney jokes long after they’ve left office or the comments against Fox News, occasionally by people who have never seen Fox News, I don’t throw a fit about them. We’re all entitled to our opinions and that’s going to reflect the kinds of jokes and analogies we’re going to make. That’s life.

I’m a supporter of the first amendment and while I think too many things are falsely defended as “free speech”, I didn’t freak out when people drew a crucified Easter Bunny since the message was that Christ was being kicked out of his own sacrifice. I don’t like Doonesbury, but it has as much right to exist as Mallard Fillmore. This is all full disclosure, because a recent comic strip at Big Government (part of a group of sites that included Big Hollywood) brought one MSNBC commentator to call the cartoonists, including Bongo Comics’ Baton Lash, racists or at least accuse them of making a racist cartoon. I, however, believe in judging for yourself.

Here is the offending material, from the political comic “Obama Nation

Before I get into the responses on both sides of the debate I’ll tell you what I think. It’s not very funny. I’ll quote the cartoonists about what they were thinking in a moment, but it’s not funny. Maybe it’s because I don’t get it, but then I don’t understand a lot of political comics, even the conservative ones. Political cartoons often use symbolism to get their message across since they’re usually one panel comics. Here you see a caricature of the Obamas which appears to be calling First Lady Michelle Obama a hypocrite. It’s actually a comment about the “nanny state” that conservatives complain about. Also, Obama has overly huge ears, which led to this commentary by MSNBC reporter Lawrence O’Donnell.

I’m sorry but I have to ask why it takes 40 seconds to get to the point? OK, his biggest complaint was the picture of the President which he refused to show despite also complaining about Mrs. Obama’s depiction. As an unpaid critic I find it odd that you won’t show what your ranting about since I try to link to everything I can. It gives your opinion some perspective and hopefully allows both sides to be heard by your viewers and readers. But let’s look at some other comics of Obama.

taken from Comic Book Resources

And an actual picture of the President.

Now he does have somewhat larger than average ears, and I’ve seen plenty of caricatures, a staple of political cartoons on both sides, with a big-eared Obama. Does he look donkey-like? In real life no, and frankly I think the caricature more resembles this guy than a donkey…

…but even if he did the Democratic Party’s symbol is the donkey (which seems an odd choice to me but I wasn’t around when they decided on it and I don’t understand the Republican elephant, either) and President Obama is the top Democrat. With big ears. Granted, it still looks wrong and Lash is capable of better, but “racist” isn’t what the cartoonists are going for; why don’t I let them say what they were thinking.

James Hudnall:

As a classical liberal (aka Libertarian) I’m  opposed to the nanny state. The first lady has every right to express her opinions about obesity or try to bring awareness to the issue, but when an unelected official starts dictating what industries should do,  it deserves our scorn. She’s decided to tell schools what foods and drinks they can sell to kids. And now she started telling the National Restaurant Association (NRA) what they should be doing regarding portion sizes and options. When you combine her actions with recent attempts by other politicians like NYC mayor Bloomberg to legislate salt and transfats, it’s starting to come off like creeping fascism.

. . .

There is nothing racist about the cartoon. The artist (Batton Lash) merely drew the first couple in caricature, which is what political cartoonists do. All we’ve done was do take a mild poke at the hypocrisy of the first lady. The press has already detailed the kind of foods served at white house dinners. It’s rarely diet friendly.  Such as the menu at their super bowl party.

. . .

Batton Lash:

Why/How did you decide to create this?

Writer James Hudnall and I collaborate on a political cartoon every week for Big Government.com. We find the “do as I say, not as I do” approach of the Obamas hypocritical and ripe for ridicule. The First Lady seeks to enforce healthy eating on the nation, while indulging on snacks in public appearances. And that White House Super Bowl party menu! If good leaders lead by example, the Obamas are sending mixed messages.

What would you say to critics that are offended about the depiction of the President and those who argue the cartoon is racist?

What’s racist about it? Cartooning—specifically political cartooning– has always been about exaggeration, whether it was Nixon’s prominent jowls, Carter’s toothy smile, or Bush ll’s beady eyes. If our current president is exempt because of the color of his skin, I think that would be racist. By the way, I didn’t depict the First Lady as fat—just a hearty eater!

No, she looks a bit larger than the actual woman to me, so it doesn’t quite work. Are there things to take issue with? Yes, especially if your part of the political opposition. Is it racist? No, and frankly I’m getting tired of saying this, but skin color is no different from hair or eye color so can the rest of the human race JUST GET OVER IT ALREADY? That includes the KKK, Black Panthers, and the other actual racists out there. If you’re going to debate this comic, debate it properly instead of breaking out the race card. What happened to the civil political discussion we were supposed to be having, anyway?

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s