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Baratunde, Cenk, Shuster and the Monkey Cartoon

David Shuster has been having bloggers on his show regularly and whether it was the intent or not, these conversations have been consistently diverging from the traditional right/left divide that dominates most of cable TV.  Today’s discussion between Baratunde Thurston and Cenk Unger about the New York Post "monkey" cartoon was case in point, probably because both participants come from the progressive blogosphere which isn’t simply an extension of the traditional "liberal" side of the dominant politcal dialectic, but rather reflective of a separate political narrative altogether .  

Typically a cable producer would book a black guy to say "it’s racist," a white guy to say "it’s not," and if they wanted to get really original, they’d flip ’em.  But the exchange between Baratunde and Cenk was much more nuanced, opening up the conversation and emphasizing the need for further discussion on the subject of race — especially in the wake of the first black president.   They both make compelling points and Shuster did a great job of drawing them out.

Casey Gane-McCalla also has a post up on the cartoon at Oxdown:

The humor and parody excuse can only work if if you take in to consideration both the intentions of the author and the perception of the audience. If you research New York Post’s cartoonist, Sean Delonas previous work, it is clear that he is a right wing bigot who routinely dehumanizes people from different viewpoints and cultures. The way this guy disrespects and dehumanizes Arabic people is way more blatant and inexcusable than the infamous stimulus monkey.

Also if you take in to account audience perception, the same right wing bigots who read the post are pretty much the same sort of people who compared him to a monkey through out the campaign. The audience from the Post did not likely now that Obama did not write the stimulus plan and viewed Obama as the face of the stimulus package.

Casey brings up another way of considering the cartoon, which is to examine intent in the light of context– not only of the cartoonist’s previous work and the Post’s political slant, but also of audience perception.  

As Baratunde says over at JJP, feel free to continue the conversation in the comments.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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