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Cartoons are often used in politics to make a statement that one may not be willing (or daring enough) to make. It is used to reach a wide audience as cartoons tend to be short and eye-catching, and thus easier to read. The selected cartoon is effective as it captures the political situation of today and displays the way in which today’s world works.
Often, cartoons are used as a form of propaganda – a way to ‘inform’ or ‘persuade’ people of the views (and will) of the campaign that the cartoonist works for or is part of. The first thing one notices here is the use of colour that the cartoonist has used – the man who is being beaten is wearing clothes that seem to have been initially green, with a layer of black now covering it, most likely symbolising the bloodshed that has taken place, or that he is dead. Furthermore, the man beating him is wearing a brown tunic and headgear, most likely the clothes that are commonly seen as part of Middle Eastern culture (especially Iran) whereas the people protesting are wearing bright colours like green and orange. This use of colour is to symbolise the difference between the two and thus to possibly create a divide between the East and the West. Colour is also used as a tool to add aesthetic value to the cartoon to attract more readers and the vibrant colours will make it easier to remember, thus influencing the readers’ thoughts and emotions, as such making it effective at its job of informing/persuading the audience and shows how the world of today works.
To continue on the topic of the cartoonist’s artistic style, besides a stark use of colour, the cartoonist has chosen figures who appear universal and simplistic. In the panel, the crowd towards the left seems to be an army of men (presumably of the West) with no unique identity. Their expressions remain the same with no distinct features and the cartoonist’s portrayal of the men towards the right of the image is equally simplistic. This use of universality of characters makes the cartoon more effective as it does not pinpoint them to any one specific area. Furthermore, the cartoonist uses a combination of direct and indirect narration that can only be found in graphic literature. The views of the cartoonist appear in the speech bubble emanating from the man in the green shirt with a phone in front of him. The use of the common and popular social media app Twitter in “stop it or I’ll tweet” suggests how many fights are now fought through forcing the person to stop what they’re doing through threat of ‘exposure’ to the world around them (which could be a link to the world of the youth- where people commonly ‘expose’ other’s past in order to make them less relevant or to defame them – or just to make it more appealing to the youth). The phone held directly in front of both men suggests how there may already be a ‘live stream’ (i.e., an ongoing video that broadcasts what is in front of the camera of the user) online or that there may be one if the actions do not stop. While the direct narration of ‘stop it or I’ll tweet’ addresses the reader and informs them of the plans of the phone holder, the indirect narration of having the phone held almost perpendicular to the ground suggests the readiness and willingness of the man to do so. This use of narration allows the setting come to life and makes the cartoon more appealing to those of the younger generation who may not have completely known about this political situation, as such making a strong point of today’s youth being ‘phone addicted’ and also a point of how the elder generation believes today’s youth to be so ‘phone addicted’ that they believe the next wars will be fought this way.
As far as the layout is concerned, the cartoonist uses only a single panel, and thus caters to the readers’ needs as most people have a short attention span and remember things that are short and attractive and uses only one setting. The hunch of the man with the stick in the given makes him shorter than the rest, thus suggesting how the West views itself as superior (and since he is standing on the right of the frame, it suggests that he is from the Eastern part of the world). Using these perspectives, the cartoonists emphasises the views previously stated of the West being superior, thus making the cartoon politically charged and effective in its purpose. The cartoonist also uses symbolism to effectively convey their point across. The phone may have been used as a way of showing how the West is always watching everyone’s moves, ready to expose them to others whether called for or not and to turn situations around in a way that benefits them. This effectively displays the morals of today’s world as many would believe in transparency and that nothing should be hidden from anyone’s eyes, however, it also shows how if this were so, then nothing would truly be peaceful as not everyone will agree with each other’s views or ways of living. The stick, on the other hand, may have been a way for the cartoonist to symbolise the strict laws in the East (especially Middle Eastern countries like Iran) and the harsh penalties that one would receive for breaking them.
This is an effective way of showing the views of today’s world as political discourse is present in almost everything, especially in online discussions. Furthermore, the darker shading of purple towards the upper left corner of the cartoon may suggest the nigh-constant destruction that the West brings when coming into situations that do not include them. Purple is a colour that is often associated with storms and this analogy of the West being destructive goes against the world view they try to present- i.e., the view that they are peaceful and loving. It helps influence the reader into believing that the West truly brings destruction in its path which most people may not realise as the West advertises itself as the land of the free and all that is good. This is an effective way for the cartoonist to portray the false beliefs that are present in today’s world, and as such effectively captures the turbulent political situation of today. Moreover, the label present in the hands of the people on the left clearly proclaims ‘IRAN’, suggesting that they are against Iran, or the values that they see Iran represents for their stance seems hostile and the sign seems to be surrounded by various other items that would usually be found in a demonstration, including what seems to be a pitchfork. This way, the cartoonist is able to effectively convey their ideologies surrounding the country and values represented by them, thus portraying today’s world in which Middle Eastern countries often undergo being put down in the eyes of the people. Furthermore, the artist’s logo is clearly visible towards the bottom of the cartoon, adding ethos to it as it implies that the artist is unafraid of being heard (or is being supported by a bigger corporation).
In conclusion, since it is a political cartoon, the tone is meant to be persuasive, and to some sense, opinionated. This can be seen through the various tools that the cartoonist has used such as layout, narration, colour. The cartoon seems to be biased towards the East, thus suggesting that it was meant to represent the lack of privacy that the East gets in its affairs as the West always interferes, which has become more possible to technology which almost everyone has access to, and as such effectively conveys the cartoon’s political stance.
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