Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Could this spell the end of kneejerk accusations of racism?

There is a question I have been pondering this morning that I would be interested to hear some other views on. Basically, if Barack Obama does something immensely stupid and idiotic after January that is reported widely in the the world's media and like his predecessor finds that photos circulate of him that were snapped at inopportune moment of facial expression, will anyone anywhere dare or be brave enough to do to him what they did to Bush?

Steve Bell - Guardian

This raises an interesting question I think about where the line in satire, and specifically satirising Obama will be allowed to be drawn. At the end of the day Bush found himself portrayed as a chimp because of what he did coupled with silly faces he pulled which made him look like... well a chimp. No one batted an eyelid at such piss taking of course as it was merely lampooning.

To be fair, it's not inconceivable for anyone of any race creed or colour to find themselves in the same situation. i.e. stupid things + silly chimp-like faces. After all, we're human beings right? We descended from primates, so its hardly surprising that we might look and act like them occasionally. The problem though of course is that Obama is black and thus to imply he looks and acts like a chimp or some other monkey would be instantly denounanced as racist even if that intent did not exist.

I guess in way what I'm wondering really is a much wider question of how, now that he has won, the satirists and cartoonists will handle his portrayal without finding themselves accused of displaying latent racism or the like. Alternatively, perhaps, now that America has voted for a black guy to be President all the identity politics stuff will fall by the way side and what might once have been considered "racist" could just become a "joke" without hidden meanings and prejudice?

23 comments:

Bob Piper said...

Yes, I think Unity and myself have experience of the ways in which right-wing loonies jump on the racism bandwagon, so I hope you're right dizzy.

dizzy said...

Indeed, although it will be inetresting to see if reaction to right wing satirsation si treated differently to that of the left. No?

Dave said...

Everybody's racist but the Race Relations Industry have persuaded the sheeple that it is all one-way.
Bollocks
Back in the 60s I had a summer holiday job at Ffyfes Bananas off Ladbroke Grove. You'd hear everyday references to wogs and nignogs but it was nothing compared to what the black West Indian workers used to call the Africans. It's a real eye-opener to hear one black man call another a monkey, a jungle bunny and a black bastard.
Race Relations? Bollocks
wordver= innit (honest!)

Jonny Mac said...

Interesting point. Looking forward to seeing Steve Bell's Obama.

Praguetory said...

Dizzy - you know the answer to this one. Criticising Obama will remain a minefield. Even inadvertent slip-ups commenting on Obama (e.g. he's not my cup of tea) will be seized upon and unlike Cllr Piper the right-winger who makes the error of judgment won't be able to get away with a belated retraction in the face of a Left-wing media storm.

Bob Piper said...

No, surely not Dominic. Why, we've hardly made anything of your suggestion that Osborne was a coke and self-abuser... and you didn't even have the grace to apologise

Anonymous said...

I await to see who the so called comics on the BBC will lampoon now that Mr. Bush will no longer be there.

Pat said...

However good he turns out to be he can't possibly meet the expectations of all his supporters- which apparantly include 98% of black americans. Some one(s) of those will inevitably have some sort of dig. It will be interesting to see how they do it.

Chris Paul said...

Unlikely to see Obama portrayed as a gurning fool or humanzee-ed (c Nadine Dorries) as he doesn't gurn and he is no fool. Frozone is a more likely direction in my opinion.

Chris Paul said...

PS Steve Bell has been doing Obama for a good long while. Here's One and Here's Another.

dizzy said...

I'd just like to say I think it's hilarious the way people are attributing the phrase "humanzee" to Nadine Dorries. It's been around for fucking decades.

Croydonian said...

As a test bed, google newspaper cartoons of Mandela and Mbeki. The only other major black political figure who gets caricatured regularly is Mugabe, and initial research suggests that cartoonists are rather less brutal than with white dictators.

dizzy said...

Bob, what's actually morally wrong with having taken cocaine in the past?

Bob Piper said...

Well, actually, dizzy, I'm not sure timescales come into it as regards morality. If it is morally wrong to murder someone today.... why would it be more acceptable if it was done last year?

But for a real answer to your question, you would have to ask Dominic. he was the one who called Osborne a coke sniffing wanker and then withdrew the post without a hint of an apology.

But if it was true, and 'morally' ok... why did he do that? We don't know because he skulks away every time it is mentioned.

dizzy said...

But Bob, are you saying that it is morally wrong to snort coke? I know its illegal, but I'm not sure it is morally wrong.

jailhouselawyer said...

I too have been wondering how the cartoonists would portray Barack Obama. I thought that the Bush monkey would be out of the question, even though it is arguable that Obama probably looks more like one than Bush.

Obviously, The White House could do with a lick of paint now and will no doubt be seen by some as The Black House. I did find a cartoon of Obama looking at the sign to The White House and the caption said that would have to change.

I thought of Uncle Tom's Cabin but note that Da Spiegel had already done a satire of Uncle Obama's Cabin, and some claimed it was racist.

One of the factors some claimed it is not about race and colour, and then said they are happy that a black Afro-American had won the election.

It will be interesting times ahead to see how it all pans out.

Bob Piper said...

That depends on your morals, dizzy. I don't recall mentioning the 'moral' approach to anything.

Whether Osborne snorts or snorted (or wanks or wanked) is an issue that people will make their own minds up about depending upon their own moral compass.

The point I was making was in response to Dominic who said right-wing bloggers would not be allowed to say sorry for causing offence and the matter would lie there. Well, he said Osborne snorted and wanked. He then flunked it and withdrew it. So... why no apology to Osborne?

That's all I was asking.

PS (although in truth I was also enjoying his squirming every time it was mentioned, so I thank you for the opportunity)

Jonny Mac said...

here's an approved Obama joke.

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?" Barack Obama replies, "His jockey just lost his health insurance, which should be the right of all Americans."

Praguetory said...

Squirming???

Bob seems to mistake me for someone who gives a four X. I'm extremely relaxed about Bob attempting to bring up past events... which has the added benefit of assuaging any qualms I might otherwise have of me doing the same to him. Thing about Bob is the material is much juicier.

Duncan Robinson said...

I reckon it'll be all about the ears. They're quite something.

Doug said...

Come on, context is King. The fact is there was no history of white people being equated to monkeys unlike black people. And not just by satirists and racists but also scientists of the past who wrote serious articles about the black man's close relation to monkeys in physical and mental capacity. It's as simple fact that monkey comparisons will be off limits because of the historical context. That's just basic decency. The satirists have already started to get a grip of Obama.

roman said...

Did you catch Obama's neat little joke about himself today, when the press asked what sort of dog he would get for his girls, he said:

'Well, Malia has allergies so it would have to be hypo-allergic, and there are some breeds that are that, but she would also like an animal from a Shelter, but they tend to be mutts (crossbreeds).....like me'!

I don't agree with his politics, but the guy has class.

canvas said...

"The problem though of course is that Obama is black and thus to imply he looks and acts like a chimp or some other monkey would be instantly denounanced as racist even if that intent did not exist."

Only a stupid person would try to justify that it wasn't racist. It clearly would be perceived as racist and insensitive to the dark history of America's relationship to slavery and segregation.