The Gadsden Flag, like Franklin’s “Join or Die”, is an older symbol, dating from 1775. The flag in and of itself is not necessarily a cartoon, but it has enough meaning and symbolism behind it that it can be considered as such. Plus, we have to address the 2017 rekindling of the Gadsden Flag, which was a meme-phenomenon.
Today’s discussion is less about a meme and more about a phenomenon. Recently, humor and politics have become hopelessly intertwined, through memes, late night TV, and the politicians themselves. This post is about that intertwining, specifically narrowing in on late night host Jimmy Kimmel’s segment on the vehicular homicide in Charlottesville, Virginia during a protest supporting white supremacy.
Today’s post will take us back a century to the United States’ entry into World War I. The cartoon for this post, titled “At Last a Perfect Soldier,” was drawn by Robert Minor in 1916, about a year before the United States officially declared war on Germany. And that’s where our story begins.
One of the problems with political satire in any form is the tendency to create caricatures. This of course, is something that can also be done with text, but is especially poignant with imagery. Today's post is an example of that.
Today I want to break down the steps that I take to understand a political cartoon. Analyzing any primary source is a tough task to tackle, but political cartoons are a unique challenge because they are a visual medium. Because of that, they can be harder to contextualize in history.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republican nominee John McCain chose Alaskan governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. In the same year, the TV show Saturday Night Live chose comedian Tina Fey to represent Sarah Palin in spoofs and parodies. Hilarity ensued. One of the more memorable quotes from the 2008 election was Sarah Palin’s enthusiastic line, “I can see Russia from my house!” That, however, was actually Tina Fey’s line. Sarah Palin never said that.
It would be almost unfair to create a political cartoon blog without talking about what is widely considered to be the first American political cartoon: Ben Franklin’s “Join or Die.”