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Archive for the ‘Political Humor’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 1, 2022] The Devil Made Me Do It

As South Africa entered the new millennium, things were progressing very slowly (and sometimes regressing).  And Zapiro was watching.

Homophobia was spreading throughout African nations.  There’s a banner that says Queens against Mugabe.  Zapiro ties it together nicely with a picture of Queen Elizabeth with a paper that says “Mugabe lambasts U.K.”

And an anti-rape ad (starring Charlize Theron) was banned because there was public outcry.  Which leads to a later strip in which children learn the rape message: it’s not bad to rape someone in your own family (A lenient sentence was given to a man who raped his daughter); rape is less offensive than an anti-rape ad that offends men; you can get away with rape if you are famous and hire a hotshot legal team.

Apartheid fallout was still happening.

There’s a an amusing picture of Apartheid Hell and the devil is showing all of the people there a video called No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender ethnic or social origin, culture, sexual orientation….”  Although clearly the powerful men aren’t all getting punished as we see Craig Williamson, a constant figure in these battles, telling the Amnesty Committee to sit, lie down and fetch his amnesty. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 20, 2022] Call Mr. Delivery

This is Zapiro’s fourth book and it’s the first time, I think, that he’s put himself into the cartoons.  And it seems like maybe the world is getting to him.

Although his first appearance is in the meta-joke:

“Only one tiny minority welcomes the formation of Louis Luyt’s new political party” : Cartoonists.

But later by March 1999 he is on a therapist’s couch.  The therapist asks “when did you first experience this feeling of uselessness.  Zapiro says “this week suddenly reality seemed weirder than anything I could come up with.” (And the world hasn’t even gotten to trump yet).

It’s the end of the Mandela era and his successors don’t seem to be shaping up very well.

Although Mandela gets one nice shoutout.  He parts the waters for the Lockerbie Breakthrough and Libya asks if anyone ever get blasé about this sort of thing.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report had to have any negative mentions of F.W. DeKlerk removed.  And Desmond Tutu seems under attack from the left, right and centre (PAC, IFP, FF, ANC, NP, TRC). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 14, 2022] End of Part One

I’m not sure what the Part One is that this title refers to.  This book picks up where the last one left off and moves on into 1998.

It’s clear that Zapiro is still bitter about the Olympics, as the first cartoon is “For the first time the I.O.C. has awarded the Olympic Games to an African City” (the toon is dated 3004 A.D.

At some point it was imperative that I learn all of the political abbreviations.  And he has a good cartoon that summarizes them: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 9, 2022] The Hole Truth

Nothing can make you feel ignorant like reading a book of cartoons.

This is a collection of South Africa-based cartoons that Zapiro wrote in 1996.  Who remembers what was going on twenty-five years ago?

Well, this book has an introduction from Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who appears a few times in cartoon form).  Tutu writes that Zapiro is there to skewer hypocrisy but that he has a desire to help the country into realizing their potential–even if it means gently nudging the people he supports when they mess up.

Every country has its share of corruption.  That’s the way of power.  A book like this makes it seem like there was nothing but corruption in South African (and with apartheid, that was likely the case).  Of course, the cartoonist assumes the reader knows what’s going on, so they don’t need to explain their cartoons.  If you don’t know what’s going on, well, you may not get the joke.  And then you feel stupid. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 9, 2022] The Madiba Years

Having read some of the more recent Zapiro books, I was delighted to see that our library had most if not all of his previous books as well–one that cover pretty much from the start of the Mandela years.  Mandela even blurbed this book: “Very exciting ad quite accurate.”

So why is it called the Madiba years?  It doesn’t say in the book, so I had to look it up

The clan or family name represents a person’s ancestry. The meaning is deeper than a surname and is used as a sign of respect and affection. The origin of Madiba comes from a chief who ruled in the 18th century, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.  Madiba would be used in “an intimate context,” said Richard Pithouse, a politics professor at Rhodes University in South Africa. When Mandela entered school, a teacher gave him the name Nelson. It was customary for Africans to also give children English names back then.  But the wider public had also taken to referring to Mandela as Madiba.  “People would not tend to use that name if they didn’t have positive feelings for him,” Pithouse said.

So there you have it.

This collection opens in 1994 with leader Mangope of Bophuthatswana’s declaration that democracy would not be coming to his homeland (he was very wrong).  With the eyes of the world on South Africa, Election Day shows the shining face of Mandela, pictured as the rising sun over the garbage heap that was the un-democratic elections.

June sees the proposal of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission–to find out what really happened during Apartheid.  There’s also talk of Joe Tokyo, a figure who has been mentioned in other books.  I’m fascinated by his name. In this particular cartoons, his housing plan is described as a pie in the sky.

Things that could apply to any leader include a woman scrubbing the floor in the Prime Minister’s Office.  In 1956, the assistant says to the PM: “Delegation of women to see you.” Then in 1994, the same woman (now much older), the same comment.  This time the scrubber says, “And this time it better work.”

There’s a lot of pages about Winnie Mandela (full name: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela).  I’d heard of her but never really realized what all the fuss was about–she was Nelson’s wife, right?   Well, apparently after he was imprisoned (citing Wikipedia):

In the mid-1980s Madikizela-Mandela exerted a “reign of terror”, and was “at the centre of an orgy of violence” in Soweto, which led to condemnation by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and a rebuke by the ANC in exile. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) established by Nelson Mandela’s government to investigate human rights abuses found Madikizela-Mandela to have been “politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the Mandela United Football Club”, her security detail.  Madikizela-Mandela endorsed the necklacing of alleged police informers and apartheid government collaborators, and her security detail carried out kidnapping, torture, and murder, most notoriously the killing of 14-year-old Stompie Sepei whose kidnapping she was convicted of.

Damn!  And apparently her totally horrific activities weighed on Mandela.

They divorced about two years after he was elected.  But even in 1996 there’s a cartoon of Mandela behind bars with 1962-1990 and then from 1990-1996, he is chained to Winnie.

The big question after the Apartheid government failed was what to do with the men leftover.  Could they just put them in a museum?  Boerassic park?  Apparently F.W. De Klerk had a lot of “amnesia”–couldn’t remember anything that happened before 1990.

And what about the 3,000 former government functionaries that acting president Pik Botha indemnified?  It sounds like the blanket indemnity was ripped off of them–hopefully that will happen to anyone in this country pardoned under our former leader.

I particularly like the one where all of the dominoes fall, knocking down all of the former bad leaders with de Klerk next–again, could be very relevant to our country if they can actually act on it. It’s depressing though that this de Klerk cartoon is in November 1995–so long after the election in April 1994.

But Mandela wasn’t perfect.  When it comes to South African arms sales, apparently he turned a blind eye to backdoor sales.  And his Assembly Chairperson Cyril Rhamaphosa was concerned that when he consulted the public, they seemed to be full of intolerance.  The leaders cut down a hangman’s noose, but there’s a large tree with “pro hanging public opinion.”

There’s also the great unsolved mysteries of the world like The Curse of Tutankhamen, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle and South African foreign policy.

It’s not all politics–there’s some strips about rugby and Springbok, which I’m fascinated by.  And of course much celebration for South Africa in the football (soccer) world.

He also has a strip for National Crime Prevention week. It was suggested that prisons becomes places of education.  But Zapiro says they already are–the criminal leaves with his diploma in drugs, gangs, guns, and knives.  Maybe they just need to change the curriculum.

And the first of many anti pro-life cartoons.  This one has Dr. Claude Newbury saying there shall be no abortion under any circumstance.  Then there’s a lightning bolt with Newbury suddenly pregnant and unwanted babies all round him with god saying “Get real, Claude.”

Evidently the Boer separatists (Volkstaat) were trying to prevent a new South Africa from forming

The concept of a Volkstaat, also called a Boerestaat, is the set of proposals to establish self-determination for Afrikaners (Whites) in South Africa, either on federal principles or as a fully independent Boer/Afrikaner homeland.

Then he shows the trouble with the integration of primary schools as two black students.  The room full of students all look like H.F. Verwoerd (and old man with his nose in the air).  But the glimmer of hope comes when a little white girl takes off her Verwoerd mask and smiles the black students.

Bishop Desmond Tutu as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee is shown in a graveyard labelled Apartheid Crimes.  Tutu says, “God help is to remember that the people who did this are also your children.”  God says “lemme get back to you on that one.”

And then in May 1996 De Klerk says the new NP position is “We brought you democracy.”  This compares to the short attention span of the voter:  Western Cape voters oppressed by the Nats for 40 years and happily votes Nat today.

On to Olympics fever! We see that Cape Town is bidding for the Olympics in 2004.  There’s old man Uncle Sam with an Atlanta 1996 shirt tripping over hurdles of security and efficiency and asking Baby South Africa if he really wants to try this.

Then Mandela went to England and it was a big celebration with Nelson’s column having its own Nelson removed and the nearby lion statue saying “tough luck old chap there’s only one Nelson In London this week.

Speaking of London, there’s nothing like the Charles and Diana Royal Side Show to distract the world from real problems.

And remember mad cow disease?

Zapiro sets his sights on Mugabe.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017.

Obviously Mugabe was a bad dude.  Zapiro shows Mugabe putting targets on the back of gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe, while wearing a button that says bigot and proud of it

There’s only one mention of Clinton in this book.  He looks like Tintin as he is in The Adventures of Clintin in Bosnia.  He waltzes in with a peace but there’s Snowy the dog “I’d feel a lot better if that piece of paper has a disarmament clause.”

Zapiro also introduces Netanyahu who will have Isareal aiming for peace (by firing missilesat the peace dove)–he sure nailed that one.

You can see more of his cartoons at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/zapiro and at www.zapiro.com.

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 9, 2022] It Only Comes in Orange, Mr Zuma

This is the second collection of editorial cartoons from South Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper.  Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) has been making editorial cartoons and caricatures since the early 1990s and has 25 books of cartoons published.  Turns out I have access to most of them so I may need to d a deep dive–maybe I’ll understand some of the politics more.

I really don’t know very much about the South Africa, and I feel like news about the country is not covered very much here.  I don’t understand all of the jokes in here, but I do feel like I have a vague grasp on the country now. However, it’s when Zapiro turns his pen abroad–especially against trump, that I can see how good of a satirist he is.  I posted this picture when talking about the previous book, but this cartoon appears in this one:

When he publishes the cartoons in the newspaper, they speak for themselves.  But in these collections, he adds a caption since most of the details are no longer fresh.  For the above he wrote:

Hell-bent on overturning the election result, trump supporters storm the Capitol building in Washington. The riot leaves five people dead.

How is it that there is any question about this still in our country.  Why is our justice system so slow?

Well, given the justice system in South Africa, our looks like a quick resolution. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2021] John Mulaney

We don’t see comedians very often.  We do like to go to some of our favorites, but we’re unlikely to go to an unknown at a club or anything.

John Mulaney, on the other hand, is hilarious and has made S. and I laugh and quote and requote some of our favorites lines of his.  Recently our son made some kind of reference to one of Mulaney’s jokes and so I thought maybe we should go see him.  After all, he was doing an outrageously long run of shows at the Academy of Music in Philly–14 shows in 12 days!

Recently, Mulaney had made headlines for doing all kinds of questionable things.  He and his wife got divorced, he wound up going to rehab and then started dating someone else with whom he is now expecting a child.  Normally that kind of stuff doesn’t really interest me, but it proved to be a huge part of this routine (especially the rehab, which he entered in December 2020 and exited I guess in February).

We entered the venue which was a “no phones” place.  This was fine, except that our tickets were on the phone.  So I had to lock my phone in a bag.  I was worried that this would be a huge time suck on the way out, but I carried the bag with me and then on the way out they  demagnetized the bag and off I went. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 6, 2021] Seaton Smith

I don’t go to see comedians that often.  I knew in the back of my mind that there would be a warm up act, but it didn’t actually occur to me that there would be one.

The line was INSANE when we arrived.  We were fifteen minute early and didn’t get in until just about 8 o’clock, but they delayed the start, thankfully.

This show gave you a secure bag to put your phone in so that you couldn’t use it during the show (that process was quite seamless, I have to say).  But I hadn’t turned my phone off and was concerned that it might ring during the show.  But while I fretted about that, the lights dimmed and they introduced the comedian whose name I didn’t hear.

This is the second comedian I’ve seen whose opening act was introduced quickly and unclearly who then never repeated his or her name during the set.  It took more than a little work to discover he was Seaton Smith.

Smith started his set with jokes about growing up poor and black.  They were quite funny, but it seems like Mulaney’s audience is pretty white so it seemed kind of unrelatable.  And yet the jokes were really funny and the crowd was very responsive.

After a little while he started talking about politics.

He said he was all about bringing people together–so who did you vote for in the last election? (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: Summer 2021] How the Multiverse Got Its Revenge

The only thing better than finishing an awesome book is discovering that there’s a sequel and the quality and integrity of the sequel is just as strong as the original story.

Everything from the first story is in place here: the characters, the narrator, the tone, and, delightfully, Nicole Poole to read it.

Obviously, there are massive spoilers in this book for the first story.  So make sure you read that one first.

But to sum up, Rory successfully avoid an arranged marriage (while not upsetting her arranged husband).  She is able to shut down a coup on Urse and ultimately kick-starts a revolution.  Not bad for an under age Princess.

But she is done with being a Princess.  She rescinds her life and goes off to become a space pirate.  She has taken her former royal bodyguards, Thorsdottir and Zhang (so yes, there’s even more time given to these two great characters!) with her.  They pledge to protect Rory so they guess they just go with her?  And Jaed has come along with them too, mostly because he has nowhere else to go (literally) and he crushes on Rory, too.

So Rory’s team aren’t so much space pirates as do-gooders.  They are more like salvagers who might intercept smugglers (this is the equivalent of her telling her mom she’s going to follow Phish and make jewelry).

And for all concerned, Grytt is still in the story although as it starts, she is on Lanscott farming sheep (!) with Rory’s former betrothed Ivar (!!) former crow prince of the Free Worlds of Tadesh {No they are not “together” Grytt is mostly just minding the poor boy while she is “relaxing”).  Grytt by the way needed more implants after the last book and is probably 3/5 mecha to human.  Which she seems to prefer, honestly. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: Summer 2021] How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse

This book title appealed to me immediately.  And I loved it.  The story is convoluted in the best way and Nicole Poole is an excellent reader.

The one bad thing about an audio book as opposed to reading the book yourself is that you don’t get to see how certain words are spelled (although it saves all the trouble of trying to figure out how to pronounce them).

The book is set in a futuristic world where space travel is common and war is far more common.

Rory was born into the Thorne family as something of a surprise.  There hadn’t been a female offspring in the Thorne family for ten generations.  The name Rory was reserved for first born males.  But it was determined that the name was gender-neutral enough that the girl could also have the name, no matter how unsettled it made people.

Then Eason sets about establishing this world–with great detail and thoroughness.  Some of which I’ll try to capture. The story is set on the Thorne Consortium, the planet where Rory’s father is King.

Rory’s mother is the Consort.  She was from Kreshti, “a small independent and allied planet on which skill with combat training was considered both a plain necessity.”

Incidentally, the narrator is telling the story as a history lesson and she is far from neutral.

They are both served by the Vizier, a man gifted in arithmancy and scholarship.  “Finding quaint, forgotten, and neglected customs was his second favorite pastime in the multiverse. Explaining to others the relevance of those ancient customs was the first.”

The Vizier discovered that it was customary to invite the faeries to bestow blessings on each new born girl.  The King is annoyed by this–it never happened for any of the boys (and they had invented void-flight with no magic needed). (more…)

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