Monday, January 19, 2009

Not clever and not funny

On Friday, the New Zealand Herald published a cartoon by Rod Emmerson so lacking in humour and so abundant in obsequiousness that it has surpassed all previous attempts by the cartoonist to ingratiate himself with the National Party. At the time of writing, it has not appeared in its allotted place on the paper's website but, in the interests of Truth and Beauty, I shall attempt to describe it (mindful, though I am, of those bores who describe Gary Larson cartoons at great length, much to their amusement if not that of their auditors).

The cartoon is entitled John Key's Big Day Out. It shows an imagined scene at said musical event, in which Mr Key is being carried over the crowd. Someone in the crowd asks "who's the crowd-surfer?" Someone else replies "it's John Key, getting in some practice for his big day out at the employment summit." And that is that.

Call me old fashioned but I thought op-ed cartoonists were supposed to be satirists. Back in the day, when Labour was in power, Mr Emmerson never missed an opportunity to denigrate the Government (or usually the Prime Minister herself) with his rapier wit. Oh, how we laughed. Now, Mr Emmerson draws a cartoon that suggests the Prime Minister will be the hero of his own meeting. Oh, how we cringe.

No wonder the cartoon is not online. It does no more than show the Herald to be a Tory propaganda sheet (as if we needed confirmation of such) and its political cartoonist as no more than a sycophant (see previous comment). At least it will give some sense of perspective to all those snarling, vicious cartoons of Helen Clark.

Mr Key, as it happens, was talking to Noelle on Nat Rad this morning. I suppose we will get the measure of the man in these months following the election, given that we learned almost nothing about him in the years that preceded it. Perhaps developing a political vision is part of his 100 Day Plan. At the moment, Mr Key comes across as not so much the leader of the country but as a disinterested observer. He talks like a commentator, rather than a participant. Even when discussing the breaking of his own arm, he seemed curiously detached from the event: there was a stage, there was a floor, there was gravity. When discussing more weighty matters, such as the economic fate of us all, he seems indifferent. What's more, he rambles. He seems unable to think in sentences or to keep his mind on the topic at hand. When Noelle asked him about the Israelis who were refused service at a cafe, Mr Key somehow brought in the case of the Dutch tourists who had been sexually assaulted.

Thinking about it, perhaps I am being unfair on Mr Emmerson. Perhaps the intention of his cartoon was to suggest that Mr Key is like the doofus who surfs the crowd while everyone else watches the band play: irrelevant, a bit of a nuisance and seemingly incapable of understanding why he is here and what he should be doing.

Curved Air:


Julie said...

I cringed at that cartoon too. It just seemed kind of unnecessary. What was the insight it provided? Or maybe I'm just thick?

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake said...

If it is revenge you seek, you could do worse than getting people to vote for Helen Clark in the Herald's 'who is the greatest living New Zealander?' competition.

Samuel said...

You're not alone, Julie; for me it was less that it seemed politically motivated than that it just seemed pointless - two topical events thrown together in a cartoon for no effect whatsoever.

Mind you, this is just Emmerson; Body's bizarre minimal style is another thing altogether. I often can't tell who it is he's caricaturing.