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Did you hear about the racism controversy over this editorial comic in the NY Post?

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/19/chimp.cartoon.react/index.html


The cartoonist fell into a trap I call a "remindsmeof." His comic was clearly about Congress, since President Obama didn't "write" the stimulus package. But the comic reminds the reader of racism and the risk of presidential assassination even though the cartoonist clearly wasn't addressing either topic. That was enough to get him into trouble.

In my early years of cartooning my editor rejected a few Dilbert comics because they were remindsmeofs. I thought it was overprotective and ridiculous. But I've since learned that you can't underestimate the public's ability to find offense where none is written. Now I recognize (usually) when I am about to blunder into a remindsmeof and I edit the comic myself. It saves time and trouble. When I offend, I prefer it to be intentional.

 
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Feb 20, 2009
Over-reaction.

And the fact that Obama is instantly perceived as being represented by that chimp is what smacks of racism.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
The problem of remindsmeof's is that they are highly subjective.

When I saw the cartoon, my only remindsmeof was "The cartoonist thinks stimulus bill is so bad that it looks like a monkey did it". I got the reference to the Connecticut monkey, but only saw poor taste, not racism. I didn't extend the remindsmeof to "Obama = author therefore Obama = chimp", nor even further to "chimp = attacked woman :: Obama = attacked country with stimulous bill" followed by "Kill bad chimp = kill bad Obama".

I guess I'm stupid or naive that I didn't make the connections, nor would without someone pointing them out to me.

Scratch "Cartoon Editor" from my list of possible occupations.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
Ok. So this guy walks into a bar....

I have now offended women, people that can't walk, and alcoholics and I have not even gotten to the good stuff yet.

Why do people need to be such victims all the time?
 
 
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Feb 20, 2009
All the cartoonist had to do was to add a typewriter near the monkey. Problem solved, doesn't offend anybody, and he makes his point about the bill.
 
 
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Feb 20, 2009
I agree that the controversy is an overreaction. The implications of the cartoon, though, have lept out at everybody I've talked to - even those who also agree that it was not intended. I find it amazing that the cartoonist seems to be the only person who managed to be impervious to the reminds-him-of. And how long did it take him to draw? Are you telling me that with hours of focused attention, pen in hand, those neurons never managed to fire? Really? He never, for one moment, sat back and said "oh, !$%*!$ I'll give him the benefit of the doubt over his intentions, but what a thick head he must have.
 
 
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Feb 20, 2009
Guess our first steps into color-blindness and leaving the past behind has left a blister or two? We (as a country) have many years of reparations to pay before such benign comics will ever pass as satire on current events.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
and the punchline is that on the very same cnn homepage as the chimp cartoon controversy is Holder's "people are cowards about race" story. if he's NOT a hypocritical, grandstanding politician he MIGHT want to consider following up his little tirade by saying that while he could see where some people might infer racism it clearly wasn't the authors intent and if we're ever going to have those "honest" discussions about race we so desparately need people MIGHT want to avoid over-reacting and jumping to conclusions in these kinds of cases. anyone think that's likely to happen? if so I have a bridge in my backyard I'd like to discuss selling you the naming rights to...
 
 
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Feb 20, 2009
I think this an excellent explanation. Both sides should be forced to consider your point. At first I was on the side of what idiot would protest over such a cartoon, but I do understand their point of view better now. I do feel the Post should not have issued an apology.

In one of his compilation books Gary Larson also eluded to this problem and showed strips and explained the points of view. Perhaps the two of you could be some type of cartoon ambassadors and negotiate a peace.
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
What I first thought when I heard about that cartoon was that people compared Bush to chimps all the time. There was even that Bush or Chimp website.

Also, do you have any examples of those remindsmeofs you had come up with in the past?
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
I haven't purchased Dilbert 2.0 (yet), however, I would be more inclined to purchase a book of offensive remindsmeof strips.

PS Don't take marketing advice from commenters on your blog.
 
 
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Feb 20, 2009
Ayn Rand never looked more right than now... Read "Atlas Shrugged". She finished writing it in 1957. It looks like she did it last week. Scary...
 
 
Feb 20, 2009
The cure for racism is to stop looking for it, Sharpton is clearly grandstanding. But this post would have been much more interesting with an example from the rejected Dilbert files.
 
 
 
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