Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The New York Post chimp cartoon - Not at all funny no matter how you look at it...

New controversy alert! February is not over yet, and as many of us have held our breath fearfully awaited, the FIRST racist cartoon about our FIRST Black Prez is out! My fellow Americans, once again, you do not disappoint...

So the unfortunate New York Post published this cartoon today and also on its website.

Take a deep breath, and be honest with yourself: what is your first reaction?

Perhaps only a kid who is not yet aware of racial stereotypes, historical racial relationships, and cultural symbols embedded in the American Psyche would not see it, but most of us do:

OMG! Are they kidding me? Is it what I think it is? Is the cartoonist referring to President Obama as a chimp shot dead? In this day and age? Is there irony in this? A sarcasm attacking racism or something but I simply cannot decipher it somehow?


1. Our Prez is Black. There is no any other way of saying it. He is.

2. The stimulus bill is his first legislative effort (and I thank him for it!!) and there are a lot of rumblings and grumblings about it

3. The cops as pictured are White. There is no any other way of saying it. They are.

Please tell me there is more to this cartoon. It has got to be. It is the 21st century, people, and we just elected our first Black President. Many are even thinking of abolishing the African American History Month because it does not seem like we need it any more.

Ha ha. Not funny. I want to cry.

The trusted Rev. Al Sharpton came out immediately and protested loudly:

"The cartoon in today's New York Post is troubling at best given the historic racist attacks of African-Americans as being synonymous with monkeys. One has to question whether the cartoonist is making a less than casual reference to this when in the cartoon they have police saying after shooting a chimpanzee that "Now they will have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill."

"Being that the stimulus bill has been the first legislative victory of President Barack Obama (the first African American president) and has become synonymous with him it is not a reach to wonder are they inferring that a monkey wrote the last bill?"

One can argue that you are being a racist yourself if any time a monkey is depicted, you immediately think of the signal = signified : monkey = African Americans

Isn't that a racist way of perceiving the world? Aren't you walking around with some colored glasses?

Well, let's be honest with ourselves. We all are aware of each other's external appearances. There is no escaping it. And we are all aware of the deep-seated stereotypes about each other permeated throughout our collective cultural references. There is no escaping that either. (I was not born in this country, and I have been taught to be aware of these in the years I have been in the U.S. mostly just by watching TV shows and movies, and trying to understand what the significance is in a lot of the cultural and social references...)

Because of this, the statement by New York Post's Editor-in-Chief defending the cartoon seems rather weak:

"The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy. Again, Al Sharpton reveals himself as nothing more than a publicity opportunist."

Is Col Allan from Mars? Born two centuries ago? There is simply no excuse.

Yes, I get his argument: the cartoon allegedly refers to the "breaking story" about the Chimp shot dead in Stamford, CT, which happens to be the headline story in NY Post.

(Is there any wonder nobody really reads it? Asking a question such as "Why did the chimp go berzerk?" is just plain stupid. Why? I'll tell you why: he was a chimp. If you are going to keep a chimp as a pet in the city and take him on walks in busy streets, yeah, you bet your ass he's going to go berzerk. If not today, some day!)

But this requires the readers to:

1. Know about the chimp story (which I had no inkling of since it has not been twittered about...)

2. Immediately infers the caption "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill" as a comment on the stimulus being so dumb that "even a monkey can write it."

IF I have to jump two steps ahead in order to laugh at a cartoon, then the cartoon is NOT funny to begin with. Rule of thumb for telling a joke: If you have to explain it, it is NOT good. So DON'T TELL IT!

I cannot help but have this gnawing feeling that perhaps this is exactly what they wanted: getting us pissed. Perhaps, New York Post has won since I am sure their website is getting the record high number of hits, ever. collected 10 cartoons by Sean Delonas. Make your own judgement.

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