Spread The F Word

F Minus is the daily comic strip by Tony Carrillo
Visit www.FMIN.us for more information.
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Jul 17, 2008

Return of the Arrow

If you've been watching the news, you've certainly noticed the outrage over this cartoon: It's the latest New Yorker cover, and it depicts Barack Obama dressed as a Muslim and his wife holding a machine gun doing a "terrorist fist bump" while the American flag burns in the fireplace.
When I first saw this, my brain made some immediate unconscious assessments which appear in my field of view as a stream of data, not unlike the Terminator assessing his target:
1. New Yorker = Satire
2. Political Cartoon = Satire
3. Conclusion: Avoid face value, look for hidden message
Therefore, I thought, "Ah, the New Yorker has satirized the preposterous claims by the media that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim, a terrorist, and a hater of the American flag by depicting them together in a cartoon." (Yes, I think in full sentences.) Regardless of whether or not you think this cartoon was done well, it was clearly supposed to be satire.
However, it seems most people (including all major TV news networks) are missing this assessment ability, because the result was public outrage! Without considering the source and medium of an idea, you are bound to misunderstand it.
Unfortunately this happens on a smaller scale all the time. Consider this cartoon I drew last year:
Here is an email I received in response: "The cartoon with the two bears, one of them with a leg in a steel-hold trap, is highly offensive to those of us who champion animal rights and abhor the use of such barbaric, horrific contraptions."
Clearly this reader lacks the ability to assess the source and medium of this image. This is what I imagine transpired in the reader's brain as she read the morning funnies:
Ah, Mutts... what a delightful cartoon. That's just how my pets are! Now then, on to F Minus... no... NO... OH HEAVENS, NO! This cartoonist wants bears to be caught in steel traps! That's why he drew it! Why, why, why? I must write him an email and express my counterpoint that steel traps are NOT good!
I hate to do it, but it might be time to bring back The Big Red Arrow of Comedy.

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Lucky said...

Great take. I just shake my head slowly and smile when I see things such as you've perfectly described. There's just no correcting someone that "knows" their right and forms an ill advised opinion based on that "knowledge". And for people that read a satirical comic, then complain about how the topic is presented, is like someone who hates seafood to go to Red Lobster and whine that all there is on the menu is fish. Why even waste your time people!

Anonymous said...

I think what's outrageous is that the media make it sound like it is illegal to be Muslin.

MarkZ said...

I'm assuming you've read Gary Larson's PreHistory of the Far Side? It's far and away my favorite book of comics (besides F Minus Book, maybe). There's a section dedicated to reader comments - I bet you could fill a book with yours. And I'd buy it. Twice.