My third in this glorious series of ‘Things I’d like to see in the media’ is entirely out of left field. I want artistically interesting political cartoons.
I know it’s somewhat expected of me as a conservative to say that everything was better in the 1800s or whatever, but when was the last time you saw a political cartoon in Australia that wasn’t a hastily drawn, vaguely sketchy affair?
If you can’t read the text in the cartoon here, Disraeli is scribbling on the wall ‘Libberals 368. Torys 290. Makes Tory majority 25.’ The police officer says: ‘Now, then, youngster. You’ve no call to be chalking that wall, and if you must do a sum, you might as well do it right!’
These days, we get scrawls.
The problem is that Australian cartoonists confuse ‘speak to your audience’ with ‘treat your audience like an imbecile’. Clever cartoons make us feel stupid. Cartoons with jokes in them run the risk of a reader not ‘getting’ the joke.
But I’ve never been able to understand why Australian cartoonists are mad keen to create objectively hideous scribblings. Each year, Canberra hosts an exhibition of the ‘best’ political cartoons of the year, and they’re always ugly. Is it to remind us of the ugliness of our current society? Is it to render us incapable of escaping the displeasing aesthetic of modern political discourse? Is there some reason for making my eyes want to vomit?
I can’t escape the feeling that the quality of the artwork is a reflexion of the quality of the political thought. Lazy expression of lazy ideas.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not claiming it’s a left-right thing. Quadrant is supposed to be Australia’s conservative magazine, and yet its rejection of the sublime and beautiful could not be more comprehensively demonstrated by its cartoonist ‘Zeg’.
Hurr, hurr, hurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
Remember, this is the side of politics that is supposed to be the custodian of high culture and the arts.
The thing is, it’s not difficult to produce something with a similar effect that’s at least at little bit nice to look at. We have centuries of art upon which we can draw for inspiration. Here’s my take on the Greens using scraps of pop art that I could Google up.
With the move over into ‘digital print’, the ability to use higher resolution pictures is made feasible. Clearly, this is the time to start using red figure political illustrations.
And given the ALP’s inability to join the modern political era, it seems like such a wasted opportunity that we don’t see more Punch-style political cartoons. Alas, my skill at creating them is poor…
If our political cartoons are going to be lazy, we might as well make it lazy and attractive. Somebody needs to bring the artistry back to political cartoons.
- Rise and Rise of Political Cartoons in India (chimeki.wordpress.com)
- Sacramento Bee Cartoonist Jack Ohman Fascinated By Gov. Jerry Brown (sacramento.cbslocal.com)
- Political Cartoons (ncsgraphicsgeorge.wordpress.com)