Archive for February 20th, 2009

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Nation Of The Apes

February 20, 2009

I sit here in front of my laptop while sucking down a tall glass of Folgers Black Silk, and wonder what the next topic of discussion should be….hmmmm…

First, as a point of reference, I ask that readers watch the following commercial:

Remember that one?  It wasn’t particularly controversial, right?  I mean, the use of chimps in the ad was clearly used as a parody of human behavior.  Specifically, the team working for careerbuilder.com knew that the audience would relate to the frustration of dealing with boneheadedness in the workplace, and the creative use of primates conveyed the message fairly well.  In fact, there were a few of these commercials, which would be an indication that the people at Cramer-Kressalt Co. (the ad team) thought this idea was a winner, I suppose.  (They did claim the top spot in “The Funniest Commercials of 2005.”, although PETA, predictably, wasn’t thrilled about them).

Now, enter the now-infamous NY Post cartoon that was published the other day:

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Aaaaand…..KABOOM!  Controversy erupts, blog wars rage,  protesters march in New York, and the airwaves are filled with hours of commentary.

But who was offended?  PETA?  The family of the unfortunate woman mauled by the pet chimp (the story that inspired the cartoon)?  

Nope. 

People apparently saw racism in the cartoon.  You know, stimulus bill ->black president-> ape -> shot dead by police.  Or something. 

Personally, I think that the cartoon missed the mark (as so many deadline-constrained political cartoonists do), and wasn’t funny in the least. But I don’t think it was racist. I think its just a stupid cartoon.  Or as I wrote over at Sadly No!:

Had the primate had a “Obama” tag on his chest, well, then yea, I’d definitely see that as racist. But there wasn’t. The toon was to be interpreted as referring to a stimulus bill that could be seen as written by an out-of-control ape (like the careerbuilder.com ads). In fact, given the way it was written, the lack of label and the apparent ignorance to the hypersensitivity of certain corners of the audience, I’d say that it could have only been penned by someone who was explicitly not racist.

This actually puts me in agreement with many of the blog entries that I’ve seen on the right side of the fence, which is a rather unusual place for me.  OK.  I just call it as I see it. 

The NY Post, for their part, sticks to their guns today (sorta):

Wednesday’s Page Six cartoon – caricaturing Monday’s police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut – has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp’s body: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill,” one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else – as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past – and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon – even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

Exactly.

WordPress.com Political Blogger Alliance

Update: Several of my fellow WPPBA bloggers have taken on this topic as well: