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plus ça change, huh?


I’ve been browsing editorial cartoons tonight (gosh, I’ve wasted an improbable chunk of my life staring at Google Images). Made me fink.

You have to go back a hundred years before the ideas and the artwork strike me as worthy. Like this one, from 1919 (who doesn’t revile “the mad notions of Europe”? Amirite?). Of course, these days you find these old gems mostly in course syllabi for How Our Ancestors Were, Like, Totally Retarded 101.

Editorial cartoons from about the mid-20th C onward are mostly lefty. And ugly. (One exception would be Michael Ramirez, who I think is a flipping editorial cartoon conservative mad genius).

And at some point they stopped trying to persuade the other side (me, IOW) and went straight for enrage. Ideas were replaced with ciphers. Like if they could hang a label on something (“red scare” or “McCarthyism”), they didn’t have to address the issue (whether the government ever was really and truly infested with commies and whether that’s done us any favors).

I don’t know. Maybe cartoons always made somebody mad. You’d have to ask a lefty whether Ramirez cartoons make him irrationally angry. But the modern stuff just seems awfully heavy on snark and ridicule. And they punch down (or at least sideways) more often than they punch up.

October 14, 2015 — 10:28 pm
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