February 05, 2014

Arm folding and mirror holding, Ctd Northern Ireland needs Ian Knox and more satirists

In an article 'Comedy as a Weapon' published in The American Thinker, the power and influence of US political cartoonist Herb Block was explained:
"Thanks to people like Herb Block and his ilk, McCarthy became an American laughingstock, allowing communism and socialism to become "cool" in Hollywood, while Conservatives became unofficially "blacklisted." Sixty years later his methods of using humor and sarcasm for social influence are a template for those still seeking to destroy conservative values."
Herb Block popularised the term "McCarthyism" and through his cutting cartoons managed to discredit and pull down the entire edifice of the McCarthy enterprise, as he did with the cartoon above which helped Herb Block to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Herb Block popularised the term "McCarthyism"
The Herb Block foundation is funded with $50 million he bequeathed to, "encourage the art of editorial cartooning and to support charitable and educational programs that help promote and support the causes he championed," ensuring his influence lives on. In 2005 most people hadn't heard of the freshman Senator Barack Obama, yet that year he was the guest speaker at the Herb Block Prize & Lecture Awards Ceremony.

We cannot underestimate the power of cartoons, parody and satire to effect material change. They are as powerful as any legislative body. In The Guardian, cartoonist Steve Bell was able to massively discredit John Major by drawing him with his underpants over his trousers. Now he draws Prime Minister David Cameron with a condom over his head. In The Times Brookes has seriously discredited Ed Miliband by drawing him as Wallace from Wallace and Gromit. Peter Brooke's said that by drawing Ed Miliband as Wallace has effectively ended any chance of him becoming Prime Minister. Now Peter Brookes is drawing Alex Salmond as Mickey Mouse as though an independent Scotland would be some sort of Disney Land.

Britain has an unparalleled cartoon heritage and tradition, going back to the father of modern political cartooning, James Gillray. Later Hogarth. From these totems, the torch has been successfully passed onto John Tenniel, through to Bernard Partridge, Carruthers Gould, Will Dyson, Poy, David Low, Sidney Strube, Leslie Illingworth, Victor 'Vicky' Weisz, Michael Cummings, and Trog, and to the greats of today, Steve Bel, Martin Rowson and Morten Morland. And we in Northern Ireland have our great, our local treasure, Ian Knox. Now we need an Ian Knox Foundation and an Ian Knox Prize.

Political cartoons offer a unique check on the powerful and on those who seek power. That's why, as Alex Kane said in the tweet above, we need Ian Knox and people like him to further that great tradition and to effect and operate as a tool of change.

Read more about the Herb Block Foundation here. Previous posts in the arm folding and mirror holding series here and here. My previous blog posts on political cartoonist Martin Rowson here and here. Similar posts on Ian Knox here, and Gerald Scarfe here, here and here. And here. See my post on Thomas Nast here. My blog post on The Huffington Post, 'I'm A Cartoonist, It's My Job To Be Offensive' here.

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