Monday, March 16, 2009

A Brief Re-"Issue"

Something that’s always bugged me is the endless negative and racist portrayals of “drunk Natives.” Case in point being a recent letter to the editor which has predictably spawned yet another outpouring of racist, ignorant shit in the on-line comment threads of their website. Which pisses me off to no ends, or enough that a tipping point finally gets breached and I reach for the pens. I’m angry enough that it’s worth running the risk of being misunderstood and misinterpreted; I’ll gladly use my art to simultaneously vent and make a non-too-subtle graphic point. Actually I’m resurrecting an idea that’s been laying dormant for years, waiting for the right moment to unfurl onto paper, couldn’t find the original doodle, but the concept was good enough it lingered.
So I’ve submitted the two attached line art versions to my editor; one has much of the superfluous activity in panel #1 deleted along with some minor rewording. This is the extent that I’m willing to self-edit; it’s a relatively minor sacrifice in order to make the overall package more palatable to the editor and thus possibly see print. I can see how they’d have a problem with the overkill puking & pissing stuff, and there’s slim enough chances at it ever running that it’d be prudent to offer up concessions at this stage. My hopes of getting this editorial in the faces of the very same idiots who read the paper (much less the ones who initially wrote the instigating letters and comments) is the real prize; just drawing it doesn’t do shit for me, it’s not very cathartic just sitting on my table.
But even knowing that it faces an uncertain fate, I still went ahead and worked up the full sized-version; if the main paper gives it a pass, there’s always the alternative press I can pin my hopes on. Though to be sure, this is a nice option right here – publishing on a blog has its advantages - you saw it here first.
Once again, ugly stereotypes and racial land mines are uncomfortably present in this drawing, but I firmly believe the over-arcing issue transcends, and to some degree justifies, their use in this specific instance. Said knowing full well the privileged position that affords me the luxury of calling such a shot, and as painstakingly belabored over in a couple of earlier posts. Even if critics can’t appreciate the irony and don’t find it sarcastically funny, I’m hoping people will see past the obvious and grasp the simple, ultimate irony this piece addresses: that the vast, overwhelming majority of drunks in Fairbanks are the whites. They bear by far the lion’s share of DWI’s, alcohol-related violence, crimes and deaths. But just like prison incarceration rates attest to, the sad truth is Native Alaskans are singled out as stand-alone examples of alcoholic depravity. This is partially attributable to said exhibitionism on display downtown by a disproportionate minority – meanwhile the out-of-sight-out-of-mind reality is pointedly overlooked by those who would jump at a chance to reinforce their own bigotry. It's like some conspiracy of silence, or ignorance, that what should be blindingly clear isn't even acknowledged, just easier when you're the bully to overlook the obvious and keep picking on other people.
I deliberately chose to illustrate the end-result of this whole scenario by showing a symbolic roadside memorial, unfortunately an all-too-common sight around here. This might be seen as a bit heavy-handed, or taking a cheap shot by manipulating an easy short-cut; but personally, myself and many friends and hundreds more people in this community have suffered a loss at the hands of a drunk driver. Often with my editorial cartoons, the ones that really hit home use the same buttons that get pushed in my own sensitivity, so I suppose this might fall under the “draw what you know” category for me.
And a crucial aspect of the editorial hinges on the word-play/ verbal sleight-of-hands between “Alaska Native” versus “native Alaskan”; this is a critical distinction that might be lost on folks who aren’t familiar with the terminology. And lastly, I cherry-picked a few elements that represent the Golden Heart Plaza in downtown Fairbanks; mainly the iconic "Unknown First Family" statue.

I’ll post-script this posting, post-haste, soon as I find out the fate of this latest atrocity.

And yeah, furthermore, it should be painfully apparent by now why it is so much easier for me to just draw a damn picture, as opposed to taking over six-hundred words to say what I mean,
See what I mean?

"If you're not angry, you're not paying attention" - bumpersticker

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