Friday, July 23, 2010

Student Editorials

"The American public highly overrates its sense of humor. We're great belly laughers and prat fallers, but we never really did have a real sense of humor. Not satire anyway. 
We're a fatheaded, cotton-picking society. 
When we realize finally that we aren't God's given children, we'll understand satire. 
Humor is really laughing off a hurt, grinning at misery." – Bill Mauldin

One of the hardest things to confront in any classroom is confronting firsthand the malady of apathy: it's so disappointing to realize just how many people period (not just the stereotyped younger generation) are so disengaged with current events - especially within their own community.
Not asking for activism, just basic informed citizenry, and simple, informed opinion. Overall I've had pretty successful efforts come out of this assignment, and there's always the hope a connection's made somewhere along the way. 
Recognizing that for many folks politics is unpalatable, and for many, personally intrusive - plus the fact that it's often a complete mystery and not immediately apparent to the casual observer what could funny about it all in the first place. Also there's the systemic tendency to camouflage hypocrisies - an politically expedient subterfuge that depends on and fosters ignorance in the general populace. The overwhelming amount of superficial sound-bites issued by politicians is so much of the same old sound and fury - the caloric equivalent of fast food: how many times are we left feeling intellectually empty except for unanswered questions after hearing another speech that says essentially nothing. Breaking through this wall of glossy, patriotic bullshit is hard on its own, interpreting and understanding it enough to recognize and ferret out the irony and satirical potential is an additional task.

So introducing and exploring the genre of editorial panels within the overall continuum of cartooning - right after the gag panel portion - shows up the possibilities that become available when one just switches content. The foibles and frailties of the human condition transcend artificial constructs like nationalism and party affiliation, and offer rich fodder. That's much to the profound annoyance of many a friend and acquaintance that are equally opinionated but never notice the proportional correspondence of utter ridiculousness regardless of what side you're on or whom you support. 

Above is a fantastic juxtaposition of both a local and a international issue: linking two previously unconnected topics or situations like this is often the best angle to pursue in coming up with ideas. Not to mention it reinforces the maxim that all politics is local.

Turning attention towards the sub-local, and observing what can be extended out to easily apply anywhere else (one attribute of a good panel), the cartoon to the left literally illustrates how the best material can simply come from real life. This one fellow in particular has become a dependable fixture by the stoplight of a busy intersection with his "Please Help" cardboard sign - and in the background is a posted "Help Wanted" sign. Though in all honesty begging for handouts probably ranks only slightly lower than McDonalds for the entitled, and my money's on the bum actually working harder at his "job" than some food-chain employees. Or especially politicians. Maybe a few cartoonists too...  

“The self-styled intellectual who is impotent with pen and ink hungers to write
history with sword and blood.” - Eric Hoffer

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