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CSotD: Rolling the bottoms of my trousers

I’m feeling old and grumpy, but, thanks to Paul Berge, I feel less alone.

I was tempted to do an entire blog entry of Saigon Evacuation cartoons, but he posted this on his page and it satisfies the urge, even if it doesn’t quell the frustration.

Some of the more recent variations at least acknowledge that those were refugees, not Americans bugging out, and make some statement about our need to help our Afghan allies escape, so that’s something.

Still, Afghanistan is not Vietnam.

 

If nothing else, Vietnam was before we declared war on each other. Reaction to our current withdrawal exemplifies the success we’ve had in dividing our nation.

Bill Day reports that Facebook took down this cartoon for violating community standards, and — since there are no bare titties to set off the automatic alarms — you can bet that it was the result of some offended snowflake who reported him in order to silence him.

Probably someone who decries the Cancel Culture.

FWIW, I don’t mind people hating other people’s opinions half so much as I object to Facebook’s willingness to, like the Queen of Hearts, impose the sentence first and hold the trial after, particularly since their notion of a trial generally seems to be to ignore your appeals.

 

Bizarro (KFS) dabbles in politics for the sake of a pun, but the cartoon couldn’t have dropped at a better time, since Nicolle Wallace is being widely quoted on Twitter for saying, of yesterday’s address to the public, “95% of the American people will agree with everything [President Biden] just said. 95% of the press covering this White House will disagree.”

That’s pretty stunning, coming from someone who not only works in media but has worked in a Republican White House.

And Jennifer Rubin, once the rightwing commentator at the Washington Post, has taken a more moderate viewpoint in recent times, or perhaps the country simply shifted past her, leaving her in the middle. Her response to the speech was simple:

She’s in the five percent of the media who were paying attention, and who realize that, while they should not be cheerleaders for the president, neither are they required to play the role of Inspector Javert in a relentless, heartless pursuit driven by blind obedience to mission rather than by a search for justice.

A lot of cartoons drawn early yesterday seem to have been upended by Biden’s speech, particularly those accusing him of claiming a victory and of failing to take responsibility for the chaos of the sudden collapse.

He was clear on acknowledging the mission creep of the past 20 years and the futility of seeking success where there can never be any, and he said of the current situation, “I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.”

 

There have been several cartoons citing Bush’s banner, but only Peter Broelman‘s appears to have survived Biden’s speech, in which he made it clear that we were withdrawing in frustration, not glory.

Broelman pricks the bubble of the fatuous America First group who started this mess, without casting blame on the poor sod left with a mop to clean it up.

To which I would add that the brain trust who got us into Vietnam was a far cry from the neocons who got us into Iraq and Afghanistan,  and, if we continue to accept those wars as comparable, we’ll never understand either.

 

Though, even if we can’t figure out things that happened more than a half century ago, it might be nice to keep track of what was going on just in the past two years.

Perhaps it’s unfair to hold up Donald Trump Jr as an example, since he’s an obvious nitwit, but he’s a nitwit with a following and, as long as he’s got a platform, it hardly matters if he is consistent or knowledgeable or capable of tying his own shoes.

Which brings us back to Bizarro and the implied reference to Rupert Murdoch, because I hold the rightwing media responsible for making heroes out of nitwits and criminals in order to solidify the toxic factionalism started by Nixon and Reagan and refined by Gingrich.

And goodness knows, our situation relative to the pandemic would be better if Murdoch didn’t feature vaccinated commentators telling people the coronavirus is harmless and vaccines aren’t necessary.

But let’s not pretend these people are helpless tools in his hands, that they are “only following orders.”

 

We, like them, make choices, and we have our own responsibility to, like Jimmy Margulies (KFS), read between the lines of their screeds to uncover the corruption that lies beneath.

 

Clay Jones riffs on the apparent fact that the cruelty is the point, that the rightwing is triumphant over things that should inspire not joy, and certainly not laughter, but pity and fear.

He’s right, but that cruelty could not have risen in the political realm if it were not mirrored in the general culture.

 

Granted, I made a few changes to this photo a few years ago, but I had, by then, stopped laughing at “Animal House,” a 43-year-old movie that mocks foreign students, laughs at random acts of pointless cruelty, suggests plying underage women with alcohol and assumes African Americans are exotic but dangerous.

Its heroes are a group of rich preppies who blow off educations less privileged people strive for, its script a lazy pastiche of old urban legends from old Ivy League schools.

Yeah, I know. I’ve got no goddam sense of humor.

But here’s the challenge: Watch it again, and, in the place of Bluto, insert a different privileged slacker, one who paid someone to take his SATs and relied on his father to get him in, whereupon he never bothered doing any work.

(For additional laughs, imagine that, later in life, Bluto claims to have graduated with honors, and then threatens schools not to let anyone see his transcripts.)

We’re not simply the people our parents warned us about.

We’re even the people we warned ourselves about.

 

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Community Comments

#1 Kip Williams
August/17/2021
@ 9:29 am

ANIMAL HOUSE holds up today, in contrast to the plethora of inferior slob comedies that followed, because it is a methodical takedown of society (in the form of the privileged frat, the campus administration, the local government, and the military represented by the ROTC). Foreign students are not mocked so much as is the bigotry that pushes them into each other’s company at the Alpha mixer.

Tony Hendra defends it better than I could, in his book Going Too Far, which I recommend.

#2 Brad Walker
August/17/2021
@ 12:56 pm

Ashleigh Burton is a YouTube reviewer, one of several who watch a given film for the first time. What gets me — aside from all the celebrities she’s never heard of (Clint Eastwood?!) or inability to recognize some actors from movies she’s reviewed (Michael Palin, Michael Keaton, Tom Hulce) — is her eclectic rating system. She found Animal House inferior to Police Academy, which she’d seen first.

https://youtu.be/KWcCch6yGHU

#3 Kip Williams
August/17/2021
@ 1:39 pm

Well, the movie’s sexism is a genuine demerit, and might be expected to turn off many new viewers. That wouldn’t account for a positive rating for Police Academy, though, which I couldn’t sit through when it was on HBO or whatever we had.

#4 Mike Peterson
August/17/2021
@ 2:31 pm

Now defend the road trip. Start with lying about having a date with Fawn and make sure you include leaving the girls in the hands of the scary, scary black people.

#5 Kip Williams
August/17/2021
@ 4:11 pm

The road trip shows them up as a bunch of feckless white kids, in over their head. And sexists willing to take advantage. I presume these parts are there because Chris Miller claims to have lived through much of what is in the movie, and that’s who he was. I expect it sold some tickets, too.

Seriously, I don’t think they are presented as unironic heroic types to strive for, but when their anarchy is presented against the kiss-up conformity of the Alphas (nominally liberal, as shown by their float), the weaponized brutality of the ROTCs, the “idealism” of the college that masks its many compromises, or the outright crookedness of the town government, they highlight the hypocrisy and whited sepulchre nature of the society. It’s a satire.

Shakespeare wasn’t telling us to be like Falstaff.

#6 Mike Peterson
August/18/2021
@ 4:49 am

Well, we won’t agree on this one, but I’ll leave the topic with this anecdote:

Back in the early 90s, I had a GF in our 40s, and one night I put on “Diner.” At some point, she got up and left the room, so I paused it, thinking she’d gone to the bathroom.

When she didn’t return, I went to see what was up and found her standing in the driveway, furious with the exploitive misogyny of the guys in the movie.

“That’s how things were,” I said. “The movie is simply depicting it.”

“But why would I want to watch that?” she asked.

I thought it was one helluva good question. It was supposed to just be a movie night, not a feminist history class. (I should add she was a Smithie and no foe of feminist history.)

#7 Kip Williams
August/18/2021
@ 8:27 am

I bounced off DINER as well, though it’s highly recommended by someone I respect. I’ll pack it in, too.

#8 Terry Van Kirk
August/18/2021
@ 11:25 am

Re “Vietnam was before we declared war on each other:”
As I recall Americans were just as divided during the Vietnam war era as we are today. Kent State is the most expedient example of this division, but there are countless others.

#9 Mike Peterson
August/18/2021
@ 11:41 am

The divisions during Vietnam were more political than personal, with the exception of a few bullies who picked on people with long hair. Yes, I ran into some, but, until Nixon began his Silent Majority program, they were simply seen as jerks and bullies, not as “patriots.”

By the last few years of the war, we could see the seeds of the current partisanship, certainly.

Even so, our kids are living in a far more toxic world, IMHO.

#10 Terry Van Kirk
August/19/2021
@ 8:07 am

A few bullies? Something tells me you weren’t really there. Discrimination against so-called “peaceniks” and “radicals” went far beyond the political or institutional. It wasn’t just antiwar protests back then. The civil rights movement, women’s lib, communal living, the sexual revolution, all ran concurrently during the Vietnam era. It was an upheaval, a social revolution taken on by a broad demographic of the population. How we wore our hair had very little to do with it. We were unquestionably at war with each other. Was it more or less toxic than today? Are college kids being murdered and buried in a ditch in Mississippi, or churches being burned? Are protestors being beaten bloody by police outside our conventions? Is there an epidemic of pipe bombs being planted in buildings by underground groups? But to assign a value judgment is not the point. The divisiveness we are experiencing today is infuriating, but this is certainly not the first time we have declared war on each other.

#11 Mike Peterson
August/19/2021
@ 8:38 am

I wasn’t in Chicago in Aug 68 because I’d been there for the pre-season scrimmage in April, wearing an white armband as a marshal, and I realized that Daley was going to unleash a ****storm. My only surprise was they didn’t open fire.

Y’know, until later. If you haven’t read Derf Derfback’s Kent State, pick up a copy. It’s one of the best depictions of the era I’ve seen. For an earlier view, try Peter Coyote’s Sleeping Where I Fall.

I’m not saying we all loved each other, but the scum were seen as scum and the Tucker Carlsons were hidden away in sleazy bars, not paraded about on network television in order to encourage likeminded fascisti to join in. That goes for the butchers of the Civil Rights Movement as well — they were protected in their states, but seen nationwide as garbage.

I mark the divider as the point when Nixon took over, having undermined the peace process, and began the Silent Majority movement. That’s when being an @****** began to be seen as patriotic.

#12 Mark Jackson
August/19/2021
@ 9:20 am

Backderf – and his /Kent State/ *is* brilliant.

#13 Mike Peterson
August/19/2021
@ 10:22 am

I knew that. In fact, I knew both those things. Jeez.

#14 Kathleen Donnelly
August/19/2021
@ 1:27 pm

8/19/21
Last night I managed to sneak Bill Day’s cartoon onto Facebook by putting it into a private group with three million members. It’s still there today, so let’s hope it gets a lot of exposure.

#15 Terry Van Kirk
August/20/2021
@ 8:11 am

Thanks for the Backderf reference. I sure it’s going to be better than the Michener tome, although I doubt it will be any heavier.

#16 Mark Jackson
August/20/2021
@ 9:44 am

Among other things it’s better sourced. (Derf knows his craft.)

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