Sunday, August 29, 2010
This isn't a very good political cartoon.
1.) The flying saucer is labeled "Speaker Pelosi," which in a political cartoon means that the flying saucer is a symbol for Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. So—just so we're all clear here—in this particular scenario, involving a flying saucer, flying orange robot heads and two middle-aged white people holding a "No Mosque At Ground Zero" sign being generously referred to as a protest, Nancy Pelosi is a flying saucer.
2.) Based on the few visual clues provided, these protesters are not protesting at ground zero, or in New York City at all, but out in a field somewhere. At night.
3.) The sentient flying saucer that is Nancy Pelosi is sending floating robot heads, which she refers to as "the probes," down toward the two protesters, but at the same time, she/it says, "Find out who's funding this protest." The probes are thus going to simultaneously literally "probe" the protesters in this cartoon as a metaphor for Pelosi's desire to metaphorically probe them in real life and also metaphorically "probe" them within the context of this cartoon to find out who is funding them. I guess...?
4.) In choosing to play off the word probe by imagining an aliens-probing-people visual metaphor in this cartoon, the cartoonist chose to imagine a scenario involving a flying saucer and flying robot heads probing humans. I just finished the final volume of Jerome Clark's three-volume UFO Encyclopedia from Omnigraphics, so I'm sure this is fresher in my head than the majority of people trying to puzzle out this stupid cartoon, but I'm pretty sure that nowhere in the UFO literature is there a single report of a flying saucer sending flying orange robot heads down to earth to probe people. Generally probing—i.e. sticking things in people's butts—occurs when the aliens take their victims aboard their ships.
I'm not faulting the cartoonist for inaccuracy here, I just wanted to point out that the cartoonist apparently decided to make an alien/probe reference in the cartoon, and then decided to bypass the most popular scenario of aliens probing that exists in most people's minds to invent a different one.
Given the fact that Nancy Pelosi looks a bit more like the sort of alien usually described in abduction reports than your average speaker of the house, the cartoonist therefore missed the opportunity to draw Pelosi as a gray alien. I am not a political cartoonist, obviously, but I imagine Nancy Pelosi and/or gray aliens would be fun things to draw.
I was also a little surprised at the point-of-view of the cartoon, which seems to be sympathetic to the protesters who are, make no mistake, protesting against freedom of religion in the United States of America, which is among the most fucked-up things I've seen in my life. I was curious about how unusual it is for a political cartoonist to address the issue in any direction other than, "Man, these protesters are terrible, evil and/or ignorant people," so I clicked on the "Ground Zero Mosque" gallery at Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoonist Index, and while I did find at least one cartoon expressing my point-of-view on the subject......my God was that ever a depressing gallery. I was almost afraid to click on the galleries "Obama's Mosque Mess" and "Obama Is A Muslim".
As depressed as the, um, beliefs of so many of my fellow Americans has made me, David Fitzsimmons' style cheers me up. I love the shape of those little people at the ground-breaking ceremony above. If you find yourself feeling blue, I'd highly recommend spending some time flipping through Fitzsimmons' archives. That guy's economic use of shapes and lines, and his bold, chunky figure designs never fail to cheer me up.
Finally, on the subject of modern political cartooning, if you haven't visited Kate Beaton's site lately, do be sure to check out her latest strip, "Ben Franklin's Editor".