Thursday, February 16, 2006

Controversial Cartoons

Communications is a strange industry.

It’s all talk, really, just a bunch of words and images. It doesn’t build houses, or cure cancer, or land shuttles on the moon.

It seems almost insignificant.

It is always just as I resolve that this whole advertising business is just a bunch of silly skits and cartoons, with no affect on the mindset of the average consumer, when I turn around and the world is burning.

Words and pictures have an affect, a strong and powerful affect.

Look no further than the riots going on in Pakistan right now, where people are dying , or in Paris, Montreal and Toronto.

A small and simple and seemingly innocuous series of sticks and words can drive an entire religion into a frenzy.

But this is far from a new phenomenon.

One sentence, so they say, started up the French Revolution. It took the death of one influential man to start rioting across the United States, and another to bring on a World War.

Like a spark in a powder keg, sometimes it only takes a small catalyst to set off an explosion of anger, and often those catalysts are something as simple as a cartoon.

Here is a cartoon drawn by ‘Punch’ cartoonist John Tenneil from 1890. His cartoons often mocked Kaiser Wilhelm, and this particular one created a massive commotion, as it illustrated the dismissal of Prince Bismark two days before it actually happened, (as Tenneil’s grandmother let the news slip whilst having tea with the Queen).

Another famous political cartoonist is Gary Trudeau with Doonsbury. But he wasn’t exiled. Ovid was, however, for his silly little rhyming poetry about the Caesar.

So what is the solution? Editors are losing their jobs for their decision to reprint the famous ‘controversial cartoons’ of Mohammed. People want to see them. But the media is acting as its own censorship board.


Because images and words are powerful things and they must be used with care. It must be acknowledged that they have a strong affect on people and that they are capable of creating a great deal of good, or summoning the force of evil into this world.


Post a Comment

<< Home