Tuesday, July 03, 2001

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad...Tea Party?

This cartoon was recently posted over at an animation site that I frequent, called CartoonBrew.
Not surprisingly, the content of the cartoon drew more comment than the animation itself. In fact it has drawn a flurry of comments both positive and negative. I myself comment a couple times- perhaps at too much length- in an attempt to give a bit of balance to the cartoon's portrayal of all righties as "Mad Teabagging Nutjobs."
You can browse through that string of comments or not as you like, but I'd be just as interested to hear your thoughts on the cartoon as on any of the discussion that went on in the comment threads over there at The Brew.

Here are my thoughts in summary:

The Good-
1) Visually this is a very nice rendering of the classic Alice in Wonderland characters, in spite of the limitation of the medium and budget.
2) Alice in Wonderland was both a clever and natural choice for a satire of the Tea Party political movement.
3) the vocal performances were a nice imitation of the original brilliant characterizations of Ed Wynn, Jerry Colonna, et al.
4) Several points have varying degrees of validity, for example, the depiction of many conservatives' doggedly (bulldoggedly?) rabid devotion to Sarah Palin. personally, I'm kind of torn when it comes to her. Similarly the "fox news"/Glenn Beck fandom among republicans and tea party devotees was apty portrayed. Personally, I don't ever watch Fox News, nor am I really a Glenn Beck fan. I think he's a man of passion, and sometimes he says things i agree with, but he's far too prone to hyperbole for me. The line "our country has been take over by a RAGING SOCIALIST" was pretty funny to me.
I'm really kind of sick of the constant comparisons with Hitler, Nazis, Stalin and Communism that come from both the Right and the Left. Why do we constantly feel it necessary to characterize our political opponents to such a gross degree on every issue?
5) "Alice" asks a good question, "why can't we just have an intelligent discussion about this?" This is question that would be good to ask of those on both sides of the aisle.

The Meh-
1) perfunctory "Teabagging" reference. Why do people insist of using this derrogatory term? Using "they said it first" as an excuse for crass language is unacceptable. Even if some little conservative grandma was the first person to innocently burble the phrase, I don't care who said it first, repeating the demeaning label only makes you sound stupid. hypocritical.
2) "we make signs." mkay, a bit disingenuous. Apparently lefties never protest, or don't use signs when they do.
3) there is a subtle bit where the Mad Hatter leafs through a stack of money he pulls out of a cup of tea, saying, "tea, don't mind if I do!" I'm not sure what the implication was, but there are at least a couple ways it might be interpreted- suggesting that tea partiers are actually "wealthy fat cats" or that they are "astroturf" protestors paid to rally by corporate interests. neither of these is accurate, and the latter could be considered rather unctuous especially when said by folks who do things like this.
4) The simplistic suggestion that anyone who attends a tea party or rallies against liberal agenda is "off their rocker" reminds me of one of the main reasons why I decided to fade from the editorial cartooning career after 3 years of doing it for the college paper-- political cartoons in general have a tendency to over-simplify complex issues, and try to sum up and settle entire debates with a single image. The best political cartoons don't try to sum up, but to provoke a response or spur to action. In that sense, this cartoon was a success, as it has certainly stoked the flame of debate. but instead of debating issues, we're arguing IQ levels. Just saying "well, you're stupid" isn't an argument, it's an ad hominem attack, and not good or fair debate technique.
5) "Facts!?" The suggestion that tea party followers blatantly ignore facts is rather silly indeed. There are plenty of facts to go around, and plenty of people ignoring facts in favor of feelings.

Let's face it- the tea party movement isn't perfect. but there was more that could have been done with this satire- not just in more pointed and accurate depiction of the dangerous dogma traps that we can fall into, but also in being constructive, and promoting an understanding and a sharing of ideas rather than merely caricaturing and discounting the opinions of those on the right.

I'd much rather puzzle through the compexities of an issue and try to understand it from many perspectives than to simply "walk a party line." Surely we're not all SUCH polar opposites? Instead of labeling each other as The Enemy or just as morons, why can't we come together and unite where there is common ground and work out from there?
What are your thoughts?

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