“Man who did bad thing is bad.” Gee, thanks for informing us.
Earlier today Ted Rall tweeted this cartoon and one or two others which are all about the recent “Don’t bury the dead Boston bomber. He’s garbage.” idea going around.
I find these toons to be revealing a level of impotence unto itself. There’s so much anger and self-righteousness behind these cartoons, but it really means nothing. “Bad man is bad. I don’t like bad man. He a doo-doo head.”
A couple weeks ago I dismissed a Bill Day cartoon that said nothing about the Boston marathon bombing other than “Bad thing is bad. People are sad.” Which isn’t saying anything. It’s like saying “It’s a nice morning.” That’s not a substantive comment, it sure as hell is not an opinion or point of view. It’s a simple statement of fact. So many cartoons fall into the “illustrate the news” formula, but some take a step to the side with a “People are sad/happy/angry because of this story” riff.
We don’t need to be told people are in mourning after something like the Boston marathon bombing. It’s a given. You contribute nothing by drawing a crying Statue of Liberty, no more than you do when drawing a lone sneaker with blood on it.
But these ones… There is a personal element to them, yes. Beeler and Englehart are expressing a point of view by showing that they are angry, and that does manage to almost climb over the bar (as low as it is) for editorial cartoons.
But what are they saying? “I’m angry! I don’t like bad man! I will reduce him to an evil caricature and demand an impotent, utterly pointless act of vengeance.”
Yes, the kidnapper and the Boston bombers were evil, and they did despicable things. But getting yourself riled up like this does nothing, since you have no power to affect anything directly related to these issues. It’s just as empty as Randy Bish’s cartoon that says “Oh, these evil guys are going to get it when they get to hell.” A cheap, childish concept of vengeance, a lame attempt to console oneself with the idea that all bad people will eventually receive punishment.
And on an intellectual level, I just can’t stand the pure, visceral reaction here. As Ted Rall points out, Beeler is trying to explain the kidnappings as nothing more than ‘evil.’ Is that the best we can do in terms of comprehending these actions? And if all you can say is “Some people are evil,” well news flash, Beeler: We already know this.
The majority of bad, or at least ineffectual, editorial cartoons can be summed up as
1) Illustrating the news.
2) Echoing the predominant sentiment(s) in the wake of a story.
3) The cartoonist expressing/reinforcing an absurdly simplistic view point about a person, thing or event they do or do not like.
So few cartoons actually say anything or make any kind of argument, and as much as I rag on Chuck Asay or Michael Ramirez, I do sincerely give them some (small) measure of respect for having opinions. Sure, they do produce plenty of shitty cartoons, including ones that fall into the latter two categories I just listed. But at least they can make me feel something when I look at their work.