The massacre on Charlie Hebdo is still all too present to talk about something as easy as to make somebody angry. Oh dear. But that’s a part of the theme of the documentary Cartoonists: Satire cartoons has to piss somebody off.
“The political hypocracy is the greatest enemy, not censorship," is said in the documentary Cartoonists, Foot Soldiers of Democracy, as a prediction of the fuss about the political sympathy expressions in ‘Je suis Charlie’, many of which coming from persons who might rather be without Charlie Hebdo and sometime even gets, yes, angry. It is nevertheless stated in Cartoonists, with both humour, warmth and insistence, that a cartoon that doesn’t make anybody angry isn’t worth anything. Sometimes is it even small details, as when former president Sarkozy was complaining over the flies on the drawings of him, then Plantu simply adds more flies on the next drawing – because it works. I want to ask the question anyway: Who are they actually, those who get angry about the satirical cartoons [here in Denmark]? Who meets these criteria for the cartoons – by getting angry? Sadly, by this measure the most cartoonists are more likely to be telling light jokes. Not that they are not clever or not cut to the chase. We just don’t have anybody who really goes angry – within the normal (or sane) establishment, the usual targets. Maybe the anger, or the opposition against the cartoons, is not that important after all, but merely that an authority is being depicted, being drawn. It may be funny, ironically, satirically, it simply removes some of the ranked sublimity. (The old writers of the Bible and the Koran probably saw that already then, as they through the book forbade man to depict The Authority in their own image).
The gratitude of the primeminister. Anders Fogh Rasmussen appear as a caveman in Roald Als pen – this from the exhibition Danish Primeministers that AFR smilingly opened. Once reviewd AFR a book by Roald Als, and told a joke on the artist: »I owe Roald Als a lot. He has done more for my image than any spin doctor or advertisement agency«.
The most ‘victims’ of the satire know (or are taught by media training) that it’s better to play the game to disarm the cartoon and push it into the harmless funny jokes section. As when former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen found it amusing to be depicted as a caveman by Roald Als – despite the flies. AFR knew that it would be the best from a politically point of view, but if he is that clever, he doesn’t really like the loss of authority that the caveman gives. That kind is obviously not for authorities – an authority without enough authority is not really an authority. It’s a Gordic knot that the authority can choose to ignore and expose the weakness of the satire cartoon: Every story can be illustrated, but the drawings are caught up by consensus, and they may be found to lack the rude, coarse touch beyond limits. [Two Danish references:] Can I draw Henrik Quortrup in a dark place masturbating together with a hush-hush information source: “I come again tomorrow – for more!“? Or Katrine Winkel Holm naked, beholding herself in the mirror, measuring her waist to see if it fits her ideal as Jeanne d’Arc: “The pen needs the sword for protection!”? Will the news publish these drawings, or do we need an anarchistic, autonomous forum such as Charlie Hebdo to bring the rudeness to the extreme, to where someone eventually has to let go and release the anger. Finally, there are the cartoonists. Strangely they are also authorities in their field. If so, does self-satire exists. Can even the cortoonists get angry? Hard to think from the ones in the Cartoonists documentary. Kind, peaceloving, empathetic people, who don’t want to harm anybody. Just shake the authorities.