This morning’s news of a potential American-negotiated pause in the fighting in Gaza, plus a release of prisoners, puts a lot of current political cartoons on shaky grounds, but adds some punch to Ward Sutton‘s mashup of the Biden campaign and the Golden Bachelor TV show.
Which is to say that he hasn’t brought peace to the Middle East and even the ceasefire remains, at this hour, a work in progress, which makes it, as they say, a good opportunity to shut up.
If it falls apart, those cartoons will be just as valid as they were yesterday, while, if it doesn’t, it could mean a boost for Biden rather than the millstone the war has seemed so far.
It’s not like the Middle East War is the only topic on our plates, and the whole world is indeed watching — including German cartoonist Rainer Hachfeld (Cartoon Movement) — as frighteningly familiar rhetoric pours forth from Trump.
Biden’s helping to tone down the violence of Gaza will not turn any MAGAts into liberals, but a combination of statesmanship in the Middle East and an increase in responsible news coverage of the looming dictatorship here could prompt some fence-sitters and self-proclaimed geniuses to turn out to vote after all.
Enthusiasm is optional: Failure to vote for the lesser of two evils is a vote for the greater of them.
Sutton’s cartoon brings up a technical point, too, which is the sharing of social culture. I’ve never seen the Golden Bachelor, and only saw a few minutes of the original Bachelor, but, repellant as I find the concept, I haven’t been hiding in the basement. I’m aware of the program and that there’s a fair amount of chatter about how much better the Golden Bachelor, is according to people who watch such things.
Cultural literacy is not high-falutin’. During Thursday night’s NFL game, Ryan Fitzpatrick made a Festivus reference and was stunned when the other analysts on the panel didn’t know what he was talking about. Granted, Fitzie is a Harvard alum who shattered the NFL’s Wonderlic cognitive ability test for rookies, but, as the jocks say, “Come on, man.”
I think Sutton is on firm ground, assuming that people who would get his point at all would catch the reference, while, just as Darrin Bell gave a hint yesterday, he drops an explanation into the second panel of his piece.
There’s a line between spoon-feeding your readers, which is condescending, and making sure they’re in on the joke, which is pragmatic. How it’s handled can determine whether the cartoon succeeds or fails.
Meanwhile, if Hachfeld’s cartoon requires Cliff Notes, we’re all in a world of trouble.
Ann Telnaes, on the other hand, often works best in pantomime, and she doesn’t bother offering any clues for this commentary on American gun culture, nor is any required.
Those who get it will get it, and even those who disagree will understand the insult, though they still picture themselves as the man in the mirror rather than the pathetic dweeb in the foreground.
Speaking of armed dweebs, the ending of Real Life Adventures yesterday reminded of this one from 2001, which got a laugh from a colleague in the newsroom who had — still has, will always have — a quarter-sized scar in his throat from a slob hunter who heard a rustle in the bushes and didn’t look before he fired.
There are plenty of jokes about deer camp, but real hunters have a good sense of how to handle guns, and contempt for the nincompoops who don’t. I’ll admit I showed it to him not knowing if he’d laugh or go into a rant.
He laughed, but he was lucky to be there.
Over in Frazz (AMS), Miss Plainwell exhibits the live-and-let-live attitude common in hunting country, but, yes, this is the time of year we mostly stay out of the woods and put orange and bells on our dogs if we venture in.
Joe Heller seems to be making an unusual point about the convenience of on-line shopping, unusual in the sense that most cartoonists favor local merchants in such comparisons.
These days, “local” is a funny word, though I’ve got one genuinely local toy-and-puzzle store I hit for presents. Beyond that, most of our shopping emporiums are owned by megacorps and, while shopping there preserves some minimum wage shelf-stocking jobs, it could also be argued that on-line shopping helps keep delivery people employed.
The damage may already be done, and David Horsey shows a place where it’s becoming obvious. When we had small kids, and thus a lot of colds and flu and whathaveyou, we lived just down the block from Jerry and Lillian’s drug store. Jerry was the pharmacist, Lillian whipped up sodas at the fountain.
But when the grocery stores put in pharmacy counters, and the chains began to open up, we found ourselves paying a little more to stick with them, and not everyone did, because eventually, they closed up shop.
Now the chains are beating hell out of each other, and, having bought out and closed the Mom-and-Pops, they’re deserting their communities.
Their other damage is to the career of pharmacist, which used to be lucrative and respected but which, at chains, has become a dreary job of counting pills, giving shots and working extra hours under extra pressure, while obligated despite fatigue to avoid potentially fatal errors.
Whatever happens in the Middle East, political cartoonists are not going to run out of topics.
Juxtaposition of the Day
While we wait to see what’s what in Gaza, the meeting between Biden and Xi offers conservatives a chance to take a shot.
Ramirez dances a line between realism and cynicism, assuming there’s no chance of improving relations, but not necessarily blaming Biden. He’s also not specifying any particular aspects — trade, military or human rights?
Walters, meanwhile, claims a special insight into how Joe Biden is lying about his efforts to address the fentanyl crisis, but doesn’t stoop to sharing the evidence.
David Rowe digs a little deeper, noting the number of topics Biden and Xi might cover in their mini-summit, and suggesting that the two superpowers have at least some pragmatic motivations to get along.
Nobody is expecting true love.
Except Mickey Dolenz.