May 30, 2013

Your daily dose of racism

Newspaper cartoons are redundant. Memes are funnier. And more original. Today's effort is courtesy of Al Nisbet and the Malborough Express:

h/t @Regan_Gibbons

It gets worse.

h/t @edmuzik

That is Nisbet's effort in the Press.

You'll notice the overt racism in the first cartoon. Two brown parents - either Maori or Pasifika - playing to a familiar script. Add an element of classism and fat shaming and you have a cartoon that "promotes discussion". Poverty isn't funny, though.

Race is a proxy for class. The cartoons recognise that and mix the two for maximum offense. Not in an ironic, making a deep social comment sort of way, but in crass play at the readers prejudice. Racism is magnified and normalised when it's presented in the media. In an ideal world the media would be better than that, but not the Malborough Express and the Christchurch Press.  

The second cartoon isn't an overt play on race. However, the cartoon leads you that way - deliberately. The women are portrayed as unfeminine, a (mostly historical) way of demeaning brown and black women. The family is overweight, the father is pissed (in possibly a Once Were Warriors trope) and the mother is sucking a cancer stick. Ha, typical pohara maori behaviour. Not.

You could also read the "White Maori" slur into the cartoon as well. It's sad that these attitudes survive and find an outlet. Everyone is entitled to their views - even racist views - but not every view is entitled to equal weight. Running the cartoon is effectively an endorsement. In the wake of the Air New Zealand ta moko controversy, Maori aren't having a great week.  


  1. This is utterly disgusting. I have written to the editor about these - but heard no response as yet.

  2. Is that the same guy who draws John Key like something out of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"?

    1. So what is the correct way to represent the shape of Shn Keys nose? You mean the cartoonists make it up.

      Who cares what shape Keys nose is? Why?

  3. I agree with everything said here except the opening sentence.

    If newspaper cartoons were redundant, this thread wouldn't exist. They're poignant relfections of aspects of society and they're dated - which is quite useful from an Historian's perspective.

    Also, I don't really see how 'memes' are more original - they're usually pretty crass as well.

    There's plenty of racist / offensive memes out there that will never get the same reaction as this cartoon. While newspaper cartoons and memes are similar in that they're jokes - one is told by the establishment, the other by an ethereal collective of faceless people.

    It is because of the place of newpaper cartoons in our culture that makes this example so repugnant.

    Bring back Garrick Tremain - at least he was funny.

  4. See comments by Te Hamua Nikora - he gave it to Key. They have gone global now



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