Sunday, February 21, 2010
Racism in Political Cartoons/Caricature
I would to like to discuss/examine the presence of racism in regards to caricature. Stereotypical portrayals of races and prominent political figures are commonplace in regards to old political cartoons and illustrations. I say old but this custom has been in open practice as recent as the era of the Vietnam War. In the greater part of the 19th century racist portrayal of Asian leaders and soldiers and leaders could be found in mediums as seemingly innocent as comic books. This propaganda was also officially endorsed by the government, appearing on patriotic war posters and cartoons. However these portrayals hardly met with much outrage or disapproval which comments upon the mental state of citizens during times of war. However cartoony stereotypes have also existed in other forms such as sports mascots, the Cleveland Indian mascot being the prime example of this. Also even such famous cartoons such as Looney Toons have at times portrayed African Americans and Asians in a racist derogatory manner. But if caricature is simply the exaggeration of a person's most prominent features does it not follow that these portrayals are simply innocent caricature? The question is at what point does an exaggeration of a racially exclusive feature transcend from something simple and playful to racist and derogatory. Does the nature of a political cartoon defend the use of such depictions? Again I may write more about this in another post.