This morning, Karl emailed me this, erm, ‘beauty’ from independent US cartoonist Jeff Danziger.
For those who missed it, Danziger’s cartoon refers to the overwhelmingly favourable ‘Yes’ vote the Lisbon Treaty got in the second referendum last Friday. As the sinking ship of the Irish economic success story heads for the depths in the background, the canny Celtic Tiger, replete with shamrocked hat and patter straight out of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, climbs aboard the European Union’s vessel in a bid to extract some much needed cash.
I’m posting this cartoon because I’m both bemused and perturbed by Danziger’s decision to resort to the rather nineteenth-century style portrayal of the Irish (though admittedly he does innovate somewhat with the use of the Celtic Tiger imagery. How novel! Noone’s ever done that before. Oh, hold on.). My ire at this cartoon doesn’t stem from the fact that I am Irish – I am not one of the precious types who gets uptight when our ‘culture’ is ‘insulted’ (bedad and be-the-hokey). Rather, my problem with this cartoon is that it shows a distinct lack of taste and imagination on Danziger’s part. I can’t understand the motivation for utilising iconography and references so obviously (and deliberately) reminiscent of stuff like this:
This is a cartoon by Thomas Nast from 1876, depicting the twin threats to the American nation – black slaves and Irish immigrants. (Danziger, for the record, has a bit of a track record with the old racial insults – he got into a bit of trouble previously when he drew a cartoon of Condoleezza Rice as the black ‘mammy’ in Gone With The Wind, and for a cartoon depicting an archaeologist working on a Native American site unearthing a roulette wheel.) Danziger’s use of the stereotyped chancer Irishman aside, even the feel and look of this cartoon echoes the style employed by nineteenth-century cartoonists like Nast and contributors to Punch. While the ‘Paddy’ cartoons of the nineteenth century are genuine products of their time, however, Danziger’s image just seems entirely anachronistic in this day and age – and just a bit lazy.
I’m sure there will be some out there who will argue that Danziger is being ironic, and playing with stereotypes, and so on. And of course, cartoons are supposed to have layers to them – it’s often that that makes a cartoon great. The problem is that this image is, as far as I can see, decidedly one-dimensional. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m off to find me crock of gold. I hear it’s somewhere around Strasbourg.