Cartoon Violence Keeps Its Eyes On Its Own Work
The issues facing the country and the body politic are, these days, distressingly non-visual. Which presents some challenges to our nation's caroonists. How to depict the prospect of a showdown with Iran? The lobbying scandals? The political fallout of the ports deal?
As our resident cartoon expert the Comics Curmudgeon learned this week, you do it with jokes about Dick Cheney shooting a guy in the face! And references to the difficulties faced by pimps out here!
Let's be honest, everybody: there are only so many political-type issues that even the most rabid political-type person can bring him or herself to care about, politics-wise, right? So if you're a political cartoonist, you've got a limited amount of material to work with. Plus, you've got to work fast if you don't want to end up like Mallard Fillmore, talking about Dick Cheney shooting a guy in the face weeks after the guy already got out of the hospital already! There's no time to consult at leisure with your cartooning colleagues over a drink or three, staking out territory. Thus, it's no surprise when, now and then, two or three cartoonists churn out what's essentially the same joke. Of course, that won't stop us here at Wonkette from fulfilling our typical role in the metaphorical high school of the American political media scene: that catty girl who makes sure that everybody knows that Tiffany and Ashley wore the exact same dress to the prom like OH MY GOD.
In a desperate attempt to cash in on the NCAA March Madness whoznawhatsit that's going around, I've broken these overlapping cartoons into "brackets," in an attempt to determine the age-old question: ¿Qui es mas funny?
Wheels within wheels bracket
Why great minds thought alike: Because if you live in a dark world of cynicism and impure motivations, as Oliphant and Danziger do, nothing is accidental, and everything has a purpose, and you just know that this is what's coming next. Sadly, even money says that the rest of us also live in this world and just don't know it yet.
Telling the players apart: #2 contrasts Bush's puny confusion to Cheney's crafty bulk on a typical day in the Oval Office. #1 writes the hapless President out of the equation entirely, and sets the Veep and a charmingly rotund corporate caricture in some kind of featureless metaphorical void.
And the winner is: #1. #2 distracts with the baffling conversation in the lower left corner. Plus, the Halliburton guy in #1 appears to have a naked lady on his tie.
Butcher of the Borscht Belt bracket
Why great minds thought alike: See, Milosevic died of heart failure ... but he was a brutal dictator and mass murderer! So, it's like he didn't have a heart ... I mean, not literally, but ... hey, is this thing on?
Telling the players apart: #1 couple gets their news from TV, while #2 couple reads the paper; but who are the real intellectuals? #1 couple assumes you know who Milsoevic is and how he died, supplying the punchline and nothing else; #2 couple feels a need to rehash everything, and Mrs. #2 is brushing up by reading some kind of "Ethnic cleansing: A look back" package that her local rag threw together. Plus, #1 couple is watching the Obituary Channel despite owning a VCR and a DVD player. #3, meanwhile, has the guts to tell this corny joke from beyond the grave.
And the winner is: #3, mostly for not ripping off the New Yorker's husband-and-wife-discuss-the-news schtick. Still, I'm puzzled by the multiple thought bubbles leading to the world balloon -- is that supposed to be a mass grave? That's mass hilarious!
Pimps up bracket
Why great minds thought alike: When a catchphrase involving the word "pimp" is out there in the zeitgeist, you've got to grab onto it as soon as possible and use it before it's no longer socially acceptable. Quick! Pimp my political cartoon! Pimp it!
Telling the players apart: Okay, so it's not really fair to compare the Boondocks, which has both a grasp of and some ironic distance from pop culture with an awkward attempt to shoehorn a hot phrase into a hot topic.
And the winner is: #2. #1 makes you really think about the politics-and-prostitution metaphor and conclude that lobbyists aren't pimps at all, but rather johns -- they're paying and they're getting something in return. I'm not sure who the pimps are in this scenario, nor do I know why it's necessary to show us Duke Cunningham's arrest in the background as a counterpoint to the lobbyist's tears, since it only emphasizes that the lobbyist isn't going to jail. #2, by contrast, is funny.
Ho's down bracket
Why great minds thought alike: I'm not going to lie to you: cartoonists like drawing tits.
Telling the players apart: #2 makes the not-particularly-bold statement of, "Lawmaking and whoredom: they occupy the same moral space!" #1 by contrast creates a fully realized metaphorical world of congressional sleaze; I particularly like the woman looking up lasciviously from the basement window.
And the winner is: #1 in a landslide. By being so detailed, it manages to set up lobbying as a general metaphor for temptation and turpitude. #2 just furthers the confusion of how Washington power brokers map onto the players in the sex trade. She used to be in Congress ... now she's a lobbyist ... and so she's a prostitute because she's a lobbyist? But the john thought she was in congress, so ... OW! MY BRAIN! STOP IT!
Dick Cheney shoots a guy in the face and it's related to Iran in some way bracket
Why great minds thought alike: Remember when Dick Cheney shot a guy in the face? Wasn't that awesome? Isn't it so much more fun to talk about than nuclear proliferation, which somehow manages to be both scary and boring?
Telling the players apart: #1 depicts armed Cheney as being completely out of control, while #2 has him knowing just what he's doing. #1 features a charming quail-mullah hybrid. #2 features a target-butted Iranian prostrating himself before a nuclear missle, but fortunately Muslims aren't easily upset by caricatures of their religious practices.
And the winner is: #2, because at least I have a vague clue what the hell it's supposed to be about. #1, while much better drawn, is nevertheless all like, "Um, Cheney, Iran ... um ... fuck!"