Tuesday, June 29, 2010

See http://www.facebook.com/mark.newgarden?v=wall&story_fbid=133625516666150 for a discussion of some Soviet propaganda and stereotypes from the mid-20th Century. The animations can be found at YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taA1cr85-L8&feature=related

The comment above mine congratulates ourselves (early 21st Century folks) for being SO much more enlightened and advanced than our predecessors.

Not so fast!

My view as a satirist is that we have not progressed. In fact we have regressed. We've just substituted one form of dumbed-down intolerance for another. Or should I say several forms for several others. Here was the writer's comment, to which I responded below:

To a modern audience these anti-Nazi and anti-"Jap" cartoons seem like remnants from another civilization--racist and oversimplified to the intellectual level of a little child.

But the emergency wrought by Hitler (and Japan) was so very clear-cut and the danger to civilization itself so pressing that the American administration hadn't the luxury of complex and subtle reasoning. We had to win. Whatever it took. And that was that.

My reply:

I really enjoyed looking at the Soviet animations, and this is a great discussion! As a longtime satirist who started doing political cartoons in the 1960s (as a high school kid), I want to point out that our "modern" audience is equally guilty of an oversimplified and childish intellectual level. Today it's a PC version, but it's just as stupid as... See More what existed in the 20th Midcentury, and equally based in cheap political power-mongering by various groups within society.

In the 1940s-50s-early 60s, demonization in anti-Nazi and anti-"Jap" cartoons was the norm. Today, demonization of anyone who thought that way is ALSO highly oversimplified. There is little or no effort to understand these images in their own context. People today are guilty of contextualizing everything in purely present-day terms. They are just as kneejerk and unsophisticated as ever. Today they have been trained to see racism and sexism and homophobia as bad, but they do not generalize from these that ALL forms of bigotry are bad. So they indulge in ageism and ableism and other horrendous forms of demonization.

And yes, one of these is demonizing ALL white males, even though it is a relatively small % of them who wreaks all the havoc on society and most are not members of the power elite at all and many of us are exactly the people who helped lead and effect the cultural revolution of the 60s-70s that has had many successes in fighting racism and sexism and homophobia--but GASP, I can't say that out loud, can I? Because it doesn't fit into the regimented, oversimplified, dumbed down PC mythology of the moment.

The late 60s-early 70s was really the only time in my life that there seemed to be a true chance of mass enlightenment when satire was possible in all directions, and therefore effective as a way of counteracting all forms of bigotry.

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