Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Modest Proposal: Resorting to the Nuclear (Cartoon) Option

I've been thinking hard again about how a cartoonist can propel himself into the mass culture. It’s been a long, semi-satisfying career, but it’s more obvious with each passing cartoon scandal that if I really want to make it to the national stage (and TV) I must draw something patently offensive, racist, or confusingly satirical in a way that leads the public to make the judgment that I have crossed the line, and that I deserve a public shaming. As far as I can see it’s the only way for a cartoonist to gain recognition, notoriety, national infamy, or notice by the Pulitzer committee. I want Ron Reagan Jr. to declare whether I’m funny or not. I want to issue bold statements ridiculing my aggressors, and demanding respect for my artistic license.

Let’s see now, I’m going to have to go back and dig through the stinking landfill of racial stereotypes and slurs and pick one that still has enough life in it to capture Al Sharpton’s interest...

The monkey-equals-african-american president has just been done to death by Sean Delonas and during the campaign by nutso McCain fans. They’re-going-to steal-our-white-women was done obliquely in the famous Harold Ford ad. Terrorist fist-bump done by Blitt on the New Yorker.

I think my best option would be to go with the long-held white-man-insecurity of african-american penis size, possibly working in a side dish of watermelon and fried chicken. Maybe I can have Obama sleeping with Hillary Clinton and her remarking on the size of his penis while they both smoke cigarettes in bed, a bucket of chicken on the night stand. This, I think would serve to rip open the wounds of American society once again, however only if I can get it published in New York Daily News or Long Island Newsday, or in a faux-engraved style on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Sharpton might not even see it if it runs only in the Fresno Flypaper. See, even this will require advance planning.

But how will I tie this dredged-up bit of bigot bait to current news to give it fresh relevance? Mrs. Clinton could say something like, “Take that, Bill! I’m sleeping with a guy who has a HUGE stimulus package!” Eh, the stimulus thing is kinda over. She could be shooting him up with steroids, and saying, “Now you’re body will be huge like your PENIS!” That would obliquely tie into the all-black-men-are-athletes belief as well (a plus). Or, Mrs. Clinton could take a puff of her post-coital Marboro and say, “Wow! If I was younger I’d have your octo-tuplets.”

I’ve only been accused of racist cartoons twice. Once for criticizing president Clinton, who, according to the accuser was a black man. The other time when a right-winger went all politically correct on me for a gap-toothed Condoleeza Rice I drew. I made up for the latter by holding a consciousness-raising “Draw Condi” contest, where I challenged cartoonists to draw an un-racist picture of the Secretary of State, with me as the only judge. There were hundreds of entries but each was marred with shadows of racism and nobody won.

What I’m saying to you all is that my fiftieth birthday is coming up faster than hell, and, despite polishing up my drawing, attending many creative writing workshops, and reading Henny Youngman’s Treasury of One-Liners over one-hundred times, I have to admit that I've never done anything significant (on TV) in my life. My work lacks the germ of hatred that captures the American imagination. With publishing and economics what they are now, for us cartoonists, the nuclear option may be the only option.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michele Cozzens said...

Having a bit of an existential moment, Lloyd?

Sorry to get all Pollyanna on you, but it’s time to list your significant accomplishments and have friends remind you how talented you are. I understand the sentiment of this blog and the bitter feeling of having to be RACIST or otherwise negatively OUT THERE to grab the attention of the media and therefore America.

Just the other day, I put several hours into making a new necklace only to have the wire fray on the very last step toward completion. (In other words, my work was ruined). I cried. I fucking spilled tears over my failure. My momentary depression was coupled with learning the news of a friend’s book opening number 15 on the NYT Bestseller list. It’s a story about drugs and guns and gangs and all that juicy shit. He didn’t even write it. It was a “told to” story. But damn. Here I am an educated and experienced journalist, editor and award-winning author and my books hardly get noticed. So I wallowed in that same feeling of being on the business side of 45 and having done nothing “significant” in my career.

BTW: I got over this brief bout of self-pity by making a new, prettier necklace and reading my friend’s book. It was really, really good. I guess I’m just one of the masses getting off on all that juicy shit.

You are using your talent in very significant ways. You’re smart, funny AND successful. Hold onto your integrity and keep in mind, you have a lot of fans who look forward to what you’ll come up with next. You don’t need to make that cartoon…the stuff in your blog made me laugh out loud.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Lex said...

Yo Lloyd,
Does the word TROUBLETOWN ring a bell? You've been crashing your single-gear irony machine into the melee of American 'society' (if you can call it that) for these twenty years. It was ALL GREAT! You don't HAVE to GO THERE because of THEM. GO THERE because it reveals the stinking hypocrisy that has wrecked our country, our economy, and pretty much the whole planet. If you ask me, Dangle = Comic Genius. And I don't expect the Comedy Channel to ever know what that is. Rock on!
-Lex

7:35 AM  

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