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The Death of Editorial Cartooning

The cartoonist’s choice: Navigate a minefield of heightened sensitivities or produce pandering dreck for an audience of ideologues.

Following the recent ruckus over a Serena Williams cartoon…

What the backlash does remind us, however, is that there is not much public appetite for editorial cartooning these days. The medium simply does not fulfill the expectations of modern commentary.

Heightened sensitivity to the cruelties of caricature is hardly the cartoonist’s only obstacle, of course.

former cartoonist J. J. McCullough does not like the path the craft of editorial cartooning is taking.

A pervasive preaching-to-the-choir approach has swept the medium.

At its peak, editorial cartooning operated from a pretense of what is today scorned as cowardly “both-sidesism,” that is, the belief that the political world is an inherently preposterous place with much to deride in every direction. All public figures were clownish idiots in their own way who deserved to be mocked for their distinguishing failings.

Today, however, there is little market for political commentary that possesses any degree of ironic detachment.

Editorial cartooning is no longer satire for the cause of truth and justice, only propaganda.

J. J. McCullough’s essay is at the National Review.

 

 

Community Comments

#1 Ignatz Mouse
September/18/2018
@ 7:47 am

The reason for the objections to “both-sidesism” is that now only one side has the clownish idiots. The other side has the evil monsters.

#2 Mike Peterson
September/18/2018
@ 11:41 am

Seems mostly like a well-reasoned argument in favor of getting off his lawn.

“What the backlash does remind us, however, is that there is not much public appetite for editorial cartooning these days.” is straight out of Yogi Berra: Nobody goes there these days.. It’s too crowded.

Perhaps if he read more than Ben Garrison and the kids at the Nib, he’d have a better sense of what’s out there.

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