I was scrolling through the "From the Editors" blog on the Guelph Mercury website and came across a post by Managing Editor Phil Andrews in regards to the above political cartoon. Apparently, some people found this cartoon, published in Tuesday's paper, to be offensive. My question is why? Because cartoons are supposed to be funny? Just like all animated films are for kids, and all comic books are about strong men in tights, right?
I'm a big fan of the work of Aislin (real name Christopher Terry Mosher), who does cartoons for the Montreal Gazette. His work typically walks a fine line between pointed social commentary and taking that commentary a step too far, but I like his style. He has a voice, and is able to express that voice without hesitation or reservation.
This cartoon seems to me to really capture in graphic form the terrible video captured after the quake, with entire neighbourhoods carried away in a torrent of sea water. There's something haunting in the way Aislin drew the water, as the crashing waves almost look like teeth. Perhaps the combination of the message and the artist's personal style fostered the supposed offense.
But really, the cartoon is not supposed to be offensive. But then again, it's not supposed to be funny either. Tell me if there's anything funny in this cartoon. Tell me this is a joke and not a horrifying mirror held up to today's media. It's an Aislin cartoon from a few days before the Japan earthquake.
You know what I find offensive? People running out to buy iodine pills. I don't mean the people that live in the potentially affected area around the Fukushima nuclear power plan, I mean the people that live near nuclear plants in southern Ontario and the northeastern U.S.,or the people living on the west coast of North America who think that radiation exposure will magically travel with incredible potency across the Pacific Ocean. The shallowness of these people offends me. Their ignorance offends me. The general tendency to make tragedy abroad about us, offends me. And the fact that all those things on front of that fake paper above were eating up all the time dedicated news lately, offends me.
If you really want to be offended, be offended by the fact that it takes a tragedy on the magnitude of that suffered by Japan to bring us back to a reality that doesn't involve wasted sitcom stars and pointless gadgets.