Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Korea Times and its reprehensible cartoons

Someone seriously needs to explain to the staff at the Korea Times why making cartoon pictures of human rights atrocities and attempted 'genocide as self-defense' is ethically and professionally disgusting.



Kyle said...

I disagree with the cartoon's message, but I don't see how there's any ethical problem with publishing it. Is the Israel/Palestine conflict somehow off limits from cartooning because it can bring up allegations of human rights atrocities and attempted 'genocide as self-defense'?

Jason said...


My specific issue with it is that a cartoon is NOT the medium with which to comment on the attacks taking place right now.

I think censorship is generally wrong, but at the same time I think that if a cartoon drawing isn't doing something intelligent, isn't communicating some kind of truth or opinion, isn't provoking discussion about an issue--if it is just drawn in such a manner as to ridicule the 'others' represented in the picture--then the comic is just promoting ridicule and mockery of a tragic situation.

What it boils down to for me is I don't get any sense of self-awareness in the image of the full range of possible meanings, and any deliberate construction of an image to generate discussion, or to present anything but an elementary school boy level of ignorant humor.

No one questions the inappropriateness of something like a 'holocaust' cartoon--I don't see a difference here. Arguing that the number of dead is different dehumanizes the deaths of the smaller number of human beings killed and injured in the gross breach of human rights and international law that is taking place right now.

That's where I'm coming from . . .

Kyle said...

I think you would have a difficult time finding any mainstream newspaper which has NOT addressed the current Israeli offensive in the cartoon section of its editorial pages.

For example, the following webpage contains many cartoons on this subject, including cartoons drawn by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonists. Many of these cartoonists are syndicated, meaning that they will appear in newspapers across the globe (including in Korea):


Here's just one more example, this one appearing in the Detroit News. Henry Payne is syndicated by United Feature Syndicate, a major syndicator of editorial content:


Would you say that any newspaper carrying these cartoons is acting in a "repreheible" fashion?

And to the points raised in your response, it seems that this cartoon is doing at least some of the things that you think a cartoon SHOULD do: it is "communicating some kind of truth or opinion" and it is "provoking discussion about an issue". And what cartoon does not ridicule and mock? That's the whole point of cartooning.

In short, I think you'll find that your positon leaves little in terms of what's acceptable subject matter for cartooning.

Jason said...

I'll think about writing another post where I do a deconstruction of the specific ways the KT cartoon uses representation, and how it fails to present a critical perspective on the situation, truths that have some substance, and generate any kind of quality discussion about the situation it is addressing . . .

Your own 'counter'-examples are what I would use to illustrate my point (which I find incredibly funny). The examples you provide actually "do something intelligent," "communicat[e] some kind of truth or opinion," and "provok[e] discussion about an issue"--the KT cartoon doesn't . . .

I'm not interested in debating this further until I've actually written an analysis of the cartoon . . . I suspect that I see some things in the cartoon that need to be explained in more detail.