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Death of Satire?

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 14, 2019 07:45

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Political satire and cartoons continue to thrive in South Africa, but are they dying elsewhere?

South Africa has a lively tradition for political humour. During the heavy-handed Apartheid days, poking fun at the pompous politicians was one of the few ways of resistance open to most people.

In 2010, Cape Town artist Brett Murray scandalised the nation by exhibiting a picture of President Jacob Zuma in a pose reminiscent of Lenin, but with his genitals exposed. This was a clear reference to the President's promiscuity-- Zuma had been married three times, acquitted of raping the daughter of a friend, and had freely admitted to having numerous mistresses. (Just for the record, the 76 year old ex-President has recently taken a 24 year old fiancée to join his other three wives.) The underground military movement of the African National Congress was called The Spear of the Nation.

The painting drew cries of outrage, and it was eventually vandalised. But that didn't stop cartoonists and satirists from cutting comments on the political evolution of South Africa.

Artist's prediction that the painting would /should be censored. 


Given the impact cartoons can have on society, I find their demise in American newspapers to be alarming. Cartoons were killed off, they say, by controversy-shy accountants and newspaper owners. In any case, I believed that the spirit of Mad Magazine from my youth would save this great nation. After all, Alfred E. Neumann said: “What, me worry?”

No worries


Today I read that Mad is about to close down. Well really, guys, you are losing the plot. Could it be that the American political scene is so devoid of bags of hot air, asking to be popped? Do newspaper owners no longer see the publicity value of a good libel trial? Are people becoming afraid to show their sense of humor? Is the thought police patrolling already? Can you no longer laugh at yourself?

To quote cartoonist Art Spiegelman, “Mad was ‘The entire adult world is lying to you…'” Perhaps the younger generation actually believes their politicians: Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Sad.

Coen van Wyk

Posted on July 14, 2019 07:45

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Source: LA Times
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