Thursday, January 15, 2015

Joe Sacco on Charlie

Joe Sacco is a graphic journalist I admire--you may know his excellent, and gut wrenching, novel-length reports in cartoon form on the Bosnian War and Palestine.

I've been hesitant to read commentary on the Charlie attack unless I already know and respect the source because I get so upset at what I see as ignorant and simplistic responses, so I was interested to see what he, a source I respect, had to say, and I wasn't disappointed.

Sacco is a Maltese-American, btw.

Below is just THE 1st-of-3 ROWS OF PANELS of
Joe Sacco: On Satire––A Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks
 from the Guardian


The Crow said...

Yep. I wouldn't have used those words (my vocabulary isn't what it used to be - nor my memory), but that was the feeling I had second in line. First, though, I felt outraged. Just so damned sick and tired of brutality and insanity cloaked in hijacked religion - merely another self-righteous excuse.

I'm still thinking about my responses, which continue to be modified by my internal debate.

Thanks for posting this, Fresca. I found it helpful - if for no other reason than to reintroduce me to the word 'vapid.'

Michael Leddy said...

I already have misgivings about the three-pencils image — those who kill in the name of religion can just as readily invoke the logic of “Break one, thousand will rise.”

I find the Charlie Hebdo brand of satire inane and vulgar and unfunny. I’m with the Sacco strip until the last panel. I don’t believe in driving anyone into the sea. But those who make an absolute line between themselves and infidels have already sorted things out. Infidels have no place in their world.

ArtSparker said...

As you know, I thought the strip was brilliant.

Michael, I believe the business about driving people into the sea was where Joe Sacco permitted himself some straight up satire/irony to conclude his
eloquent and thoughtful take, not on the killings, but on the reaction to them. That is, if we want to kill all those who think differently in order to avoid danger, how are we any different from those who would kill those who belittle them because of their beliefs and who feel attacked by the belittlement. I am pretty sure he would prefer understanding across cultures, as would anyone who does not have to believe they are right always and forever.

deanna said...

This is the best (and only) commentary I've read on the situation. My husband, bless him, listens to programs featuring those who are beating their chests in defiance, focusing on free speech, as if that were the point, and I must leave the room. Not because I'm better than my dear husband, but because the opposite is true. I'm a reactive human being, one who has moments when I mean to cut to the bone, where I focus on the wrong, deadly point, and I wish not to do so.

Zhoen said...

The quality of the piece should be attacked, with ridicule, alternative voices, even legal challenges. Violence only escalates, anger deafens.

NPR has had a couple of stories about moderates vs extremism.

Fresca said...

Wow! How wonderful to come home to 5 substantive comments---thanks, everyone.

CROW: "Vapid" is such a good word. I must remember to use it more often!

I agree that the last 2 panels are meant to be satire (i.e. "if you think people are just hopeless cases--not just the murderers but the average Muslim who can't laugh off ridicule in images, then you may as well push them into the sea"--implying how ridiculous that is),
---but when I looked at it again more closely, I think Sacco worded it poorly:

*I* know he meant it as satire because I've read his other work (including a nauseating description of families of Bosnian Muslims trying to reach the safety of a river, while their neighbors shoot at them...)--but this cartoon must stand alone, and while I think it's brilliant, perhaps its ending is not wholly successful...

DEANNA: I'm glad you got something out of this. Oh dear, I can just imagine those radio shows... and how churned up I would be by them ON TOP OF everything else.

ZHOEN: Well... I'm not a fan of ridicule, perhaps because as someone prone to resentment myself, I know how ridicule can stick like napalm, burning deep and long and destroying everything around it.
Not, I think, the best approach, especially with people who are already feeling on the defensive.

Thanks for the links--I'll take a look.

Zhoen said...

I meant, if a cartoonist is ridiculing the ridiculous, like extremists and uncaring political figures, then if someone is offended, the only weapon appropriate to use is ridicule back. Not machine guns and bombs.

Fresca said...

Mmm, yes, I see what you mean, Zhoen.

It's hard to know what an appropriate response to ugliness is.
It's a tough one.
I think nonviolence is a smart, maybe the smartest, tactic, but it's hard to pull off. I was remembering how I felt when I saw that 1978 Hustler magazine cover of a woman in a meat grinder.
I certainly didn't feel nonviolent then! If Valerie Solanas had shot Hugh Hefner instead of Andy Warhol, I wouldn't have joined a march for freedom of the press holding a sign saying "I am Hugh"...

But I was thinking, mightn't there be a response that doesn't escalate the tension the way ridicule-for-ridicule does---something akin to Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird just standing there and letting Bob Ewell spit in his face, and then wiping it off with his handkerchief and walking away?


Zhoen said...

Oh, ideally, exactly. Powerful not to engage. But if a fight is appropriate, then it should always deescalate, or stay at the same level. Disarm, defray, minimize.

Cartoon of Larry Flynt in a meat grinder... surrounded by women laughing at his, um, pencil.

Fresca said...

Disarm, defray,minimize.
I like that.
Is that real Army-speak?
The concept of defraying is really strong--I'd never thought of using that word. Sort of like forgive, without all the icky preachy overtones.

Oh, right, Larry Flynt, not Hugh Hefner. Geez, I'd have even shot the wrong guy! There I go, giving myself another reason to practice up on nonviolence.

Ohdeargod. I just looked Flynt up, and someone *did* shoot him--I had no idea!--and not for reasons I agree with even a smidge (supposedly a white supremacist shot him who was outraged at interracial sex):

This gets worse and worse.