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Mr. Fish on Modern Political Cartooning

… In other words, just as the popular concept of American democracy has been modified (some might say vulgarized) to include capitalism as a leading example of its primary function, so too has the practice of satire and political cartooning been amended to require amusement as its foremost intention, a sure sign that it can no longer operate as an instigator of deeper thought or a catalyst for meaningful societal change if only because mirth cripples rage and rage is necessary for any campaign against cruelty and injustice.

… while I might agree that the majority of cartoonists could legitimately be accused of simplifying political conversation, I’d argue that they are not doing it for the purpose of dumbing down discourse, but rather for the purpose of introducing clarity, common sense and sympathy into the national political dialogue. A cartoonist, when he or she succeeds, makes politics accessible and understandable and, quite frankly, usable to a large portion of the public who, because of race, education level, income inequality, or any number of schlock justifications for marginalization from elite society, would have no easy way to decode and decipher how and why the world functions and dysfunctions as it does. 

Duane (Mr. Fish) Booth’s essay here.

Included is an interview transcript excerpt from his 2017 film.

Broadly speaking, I think there are two major factors that have contributed to the demise of the editorial cartoonist as a viable and sought-after journalistic contributor to the national debate regarding news, politics and culture over the last hundred years. The first and most obvious is the concentration of media ownership and the elimination of independent voices by the formation of publishing and broadcast oligopolies whose power and influence derive from their disdain for creative competition and dissent….

The second reason why cartoonists can no longer earn a living wage is, of course, due to the total collapse of the print media industry and the inability of online publishers to pay contributors for content, having not yet figured out a financial model that is self-sustaining.


images © Mr. Fish

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