My cartoon lampooning new Russian drivers' license restrictions has barely hit the newsstands, and already the government is backing down!
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Russian officials have given transgender citizens, many of whom have felt increasingly persecuted by the state in recent years, the green light to keep on driving after a new road safety decree sparked panic that they would be banned from the road. ...Okay, I'm not so full of myself that I actually think I had anything to do with moving the Russian government. But the topic of the effectiveness of editorial cartoons came up on the AAEC bulletin board this week.
"It actually shows that LGBT people in Russia feel extremely vulnerable," Svetlana Zakharova, PR manager of the Russian LGBT Network, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"The homophobic policy of the Russian state created an environment where LGBT people do not expect anything good and believe that even a nonsense regulation or law can be adopted."
"I was somewhat distressed to realize, however, that they (as a group, I can't say for each one individually) had basically no awareness of cartoons / comics as something important and were largely comic-illiterate. By that I don't mean that they don't follow the cartoonists I follow, I mean that they didn't have the ability to 'read' a cartoon apart from reading the words..."
There is a cultural aspect, to be sure: I've read posts explaining that some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons viewed as especially racist, Islamophobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic are in fact lampooning the viewpoints they appear to endorse. But American cartoonists are also misunderstood from time to time when we criticize a point of view by portraying it taken to its logical conclusion -- as if we are agreeing with it.
Perhaps we cartoonists, if we want to remain relevant to the digitized generation, need to add "j/k" or "/sarcasm" on our cartoons.
Therefore, in case any comic illiterates out there thought my cartoon was literally accusing the Russian government of sending transgendered Russians to Nazi death camps (if they even caught the reference at all), somebody please explain to them that if that were the case, I wouldn't have bothered to bring up the issue of drivers' licenses.