Saturday, July 7, 2012

Presidential races have never been pretty–get over it folks!

Presidential races have a strong history as opportunities for media outlets to employ satire to create divisions in public opinions.

These divisions occur over differing viewpoints and belief systems and are often created in an effort to ensure a specific party’s political victory.

Satirical cartoons can both exemplify and exacerbate already existing political tensions, as print media is used to judge electoral histories and political ideologies in an ironic way.


Graphic: "The People's Choice," The Detroit Free Press (January 13, 1980)


Throughout history we have understood political information about candidates using visual aids that help define and solidify our feelings toward their policies and personal lives.

The derisiveness of political parties and the negativity focused on presidential candidates is, unfortunately, a longstanding tradition of American political media.
In 1980 the Detroit Free Press printed a cartoon that exemplified this long, ironic past in a humorous and unapologetic way. (see above)

This print speaks to the heart of our political frustrations with the turbulence and insincerity of the Presidential electoral process.

Historically, the media has used satirical cartoons to both establish and judge our societal values. One of the William L. Clements’ Library most frequently requested items is a cartoon of President Andrew Jackson from 1835.

The cartoon (right - Andrew Jackson as the Great Father circa 1835) depicts his position on Native American governmental policies and sarcastically portrays him as a kind ‘father-figure’ to disenfranchised Native Americans. This cartoon, commenting on President Jackson’s passage of the Native American Removal Act five years earlier, attempted to infuse humor into our sometimes brutal political processes. The fact that newspapers printed cartoons like this one ensured that everyday Americans examined  national political issues, which helped to hold governmental leaders accountable for their actions by the very people who elected them. This print here at the Clements Library may be the only printed copy that remains in existence today. Read more here…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to comment on anything you see and read here. This is an open forum.
Please keep it clean.