Tag Archives: politics

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Election Terror: What Happens when the Dead Come Back to Vote in Homecoming

Homecoming
Homecoming

Jane Cleaver: “It’s words. It’s a game. You say whatever it takes to win.”

David Murch: “Well, maybe that’s the problem.”

This dialogue exchange happens early in Homecoming (dir. Joe Dante), a strange but unique zombie story from the Masters of Horror anthology series created by director Mick Garris (The Stand). It serves as a preamble for what’ll come soon after the two conversations between the two characters ends, which flips the zombie formula on its head with bravado. An army of undead war veterans rallies from beyond the grave for one final mission: to vote against the president that sent them to war based on a lie. A lie that killed them.

The episode came out in 2006, two years into George W. Bush’s second term as president, at a point where the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ excuse used to justify the War on Terror was wearing off and being heavily portrayed as the lie that got the US stuck in the Middle East (and the reason why dead soldiers come back to vote in Homecoming).

Homecoming follows a White House speech writer called David Murch as he navigates Bush’s reelection with a team of public relations pundits hellbent on winning the election, by any and all means necessary. During a televised panel discussion, Murch is confronted by the mother of a dead soldier who’s protesting the war, which inspires the conflicted speech writer to sincerely wish her son could come back and tell the world why he died for his country. He gets his wish, only it comes with a battalion of undead combatants desperate to fulfill their civic duty.

Watching it now, just as Americans are casting their ballots on the Biden v. Trump election, it’s unsettling how relevant this story still is, if only for its discussion on how politics is ultimately a game of words. As Murch and his team pick up on the fact zombie votes are leaning towards the other side, a mad dash for control of the narrative takes place. What was first scene as an act of patriotism—rising from the grave to vote—becomes an un-American rebellion looking to steal the election from the living.

Homecoming
Homecoming

While Homecoming is firmly rooted in the context of the Bush presidency, it comments enough on the dangers of political storytelling to effectively turn its metaphors on the politics of today. Murch will struggle with his own morality throughout most of the episode, always hesitant as to how and when to use the undead as part of the campaign. Here’s where Jane Cleaver comes into play.

Basically a stand-in for Ann Coulter, Cleaver becomes the right-wing commentator that puts on her radical pro-America persona when in front of a camera only to later admit she’ll say anything to secure her party’s victory. She basically stands as the unethical extreme of public discourse. The game, as Cleaver puts it, is won by the best storyteller. Homecoming does a magnificent job of proving this point through her, with the other PR people acting as her chorus, encouraging her to further spread her warped political views.

There are a lot of parallels between Cleaver’s philosophies and Kellyanne Conway’s media performances (which she had to put on as the former counselor to the President), especially when she was asked to explain or defend Trump’s comments on most about everything. There’s a scene in Homecoming, after the soldiers have revealed who they’re voting for, where Cleaver doubts the legality of undead voting after previously championing it. She supported the undead vote before she knew the problem it posed to her party. Conway’s “alternative facts” statement comes to mind here, which was uttered when asked to comment on the actual number of people that attended Trump’s inauguration. It’s as if you can trace a solid genealogical line, if you will, from Bush era politics to Trump era politics. The side with the best spin on information wins the crowd, and potentially their vote.

Homecoming
Homecoming

It should come as no surprise to Joe Dante fans that this movie is as blatantly political as it is. As Homecoming’s director, Dante pulls out every trick in his book to make each metaphor land. Be it the violent nature of American politics (seen in his werewolf movie The Howling) to a people’s inability to keep chaos at bay by following simple instructions (Gremlins), Dante likes to put his movies’ messages in full view, covered in blood if he has to. Homecoming is no different.

During a televised Presidential rally, Murch and Cleaver ruminate on Bush’s ability to command an audience. Cleaver asks just what it is about the President that makes people adore him. Murch responds, “He’s not stupid. He has a way to make stupid people feel like they’re just as smart as he is.” A bit crude, but it speaks to the power of storytelling. In Bush’s America, militaristic values were the way to win hearts and minds, especially after 9/11. There was an appeal to patriotism that the Bush administration took and turned into a party value. As a result, to criticize the war was to criticize the need to protect America, to badmouth its soldiers. Being anti-war meant being un-American.

Homecoming

In Trump’s America, the idea is to show America as a place that’s been robbed of greatness by liberal policies that see their own country as the problem. The principle is the same. It’s just a matter of taking outdated story elements out and putting new ones in. By then, it’s a race of two stories and it all boils down to the side that tells it better.

Homecoming is a horror story with a call to action. It’s not cynic in its entirety but it’s not entirely hopeful either. It’s about awareness. Stories are never one thing or another in the world of politics. They’re in constant spin and can spiral out at any moment to the benefit of those who can harness their power best. It might take zombie voters to come back and put us all in our place for things to get better. Until then, it’s up to the living to make sure we don’t screw up so bad this time.

Review: Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1

BOMB QUEEN: TRUMP CARD
Bomb Queen: Trump Card Part One, Image

It’s not every day you see a comic book open with a quote from Hannah Arendt, the famous American-German political thinker and author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. That last tidbit of information about Arendt is important to understand the type of satire Jimmie Robinson goes for in Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1. It’s biting and completely uninterested in criticizing anything in a politically correct way. But criticism is the goal and it doesn’t lose sight of it. In a sense, it’s a kind of book we’re seeing less and less of today.

This new limited series follows the titular supervillain, Bomb Queen, as she joins the 2024 presidential campaign against Donald Trump. Taking a page from Nixon in Watchmen, Trump is flirting with the idea of making the presidency a life-long term and that quite simply does not fly with New Port City’s superhero community. Bomb Queen is forcefully recruited by one particular superhero to run against Trump and then, once she’s won, resign to the position so that the superhero that recruited her becomes president instead.

This first issue is quite accessible and easy enough to follow, but there are a ton of callbacks to the previous limited series and one-shots as well (the comic was first published in 2006). Bomb Queen was the leader of New Port City and basically acted as a dictator that was reckless but reliable. No one ever doubted she would continue being a super villain and so people trusted her to be just that all the time.

In other words, Bomb Queen was the Trump of New Port City, a point the comic literally argues in one sequence. The superhero community’s plan is to fight fire with fire and then course correct. It’s basically a look at Totalitarianism and how it works, albeit with a more fast-paced, bloody, and sexed up mindset.

The basis for the satire is clear and quite ‘in your face.’ What transpires is a smart but often crude way of broaching the idea people want to view their leaders as superheroes or super villains, expecting them to act accordingly. It can remind one of Garth Ennis’ The Boys, specifically in terms of how power creates irresponsible God-like beings that want nothing more than to flaunt their abilities publicly, shamelessly, and without restraint.

Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1, Image

What sets Bomb Queen apart from The Boys is that Jimmie Robinson’s satire is more down to Earth. While The Boys looks more closely at the nature of super people and plays around with comic tropes more intently, Bomb Queen takes it down to the streets without room for subtlety (much less than in Ennis’ book and even that one can’t be said to have much regard for it either).

As is the case in earlier Bomb Queen books, this new story features random New Port citizens sounding off on Bomb Queen’s candidacy. Opinions vary among them, with some saying things along the lines of “if Trump can insult people, then why can’t Bomb Queen do so as well?” or “we already have a villain in the White House. What’s wrong with having a super villain instead?”

Bomb Queen: Trump Card #1
Bomb Queen: Trump Card Part One

The exchanges are absurd, fun, rough, but smartly presented and come off as not so far fetched as those found in the real world. In Bomb Queen’s America, satire is the status quo, an inside joke everyone’s in on. That American society has taken such a turn for the ridiculous that we’ve managed to actually put a super villain in the White House is perhaps the bigger point Robinson wants to make here.

And yet, Bomb Queen isn’t for everyone. The character’s barely-there outfit is also part of the satire, but it alludes to other things explored previously in the series. Some may find the design exploitative and out of touch, but it’s not without its purpose. Again, political correctness is not a concern for Robinson, and sometimes it feels as if he actively attempts to get under the reader’s skin. Having said that, an update for the purposes of discourse could’ve made the comic even more accessible.

Robinson seems to like to turn his villainess into a mirror for our own inadequacies and inconsistencies. Expect 90’s era style jokes and visual gags that aren’t looked favorably upon today, but also expect them to be in response to something specific and not just for the sake of gratuity. What lands in Robinson’s crosshairs tends to be worthy of the criticism Bomb Queen provides.

Bomb Queen’s Trump-like behavior in past events makes her an interesting example of villainy to bounce off of. The idea of making a Trump-like villain run against the actual Trump is a fascinating one and merits discussion. Give it a read and if it’s not your thing, that’s okay. If you end up liking it, then you have a lot more satire to look forward to, along with the added sting of pure unpolitical correctness.

Story: Jimmie Robinson Art: Jimmie Robinson
Story: 8 .0Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Read Bomb Queen and then register to vote

Image Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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White Nationalism is the Issue. Video Games and Media Don’t Cause Violence

video games controller

With recent tragedies on everyone’s minds, some people are looking for a cause and culprit other than the shooters and perpetrators of the recent terrorist attacks in Dayton and El Paso. Unfortunately, some are blaming media, including video games, for violent behavior in individuals. We know this isn’t the case; banning or regulating media content, even more, won’t solve the issue.

Christopher J. Ferguson, the chair of the Texas A&M International University’s department of psychology and communication, among others including federally funded studies, have shown there’s no link between violent video games and real-world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression. There’s no need for more federal studies, when there’s been federal studies completed. Past research has been mixed, at best, and often weakened by substantial methodological flaws.

It’s clear that real-world statistics don’t back up the coordinated rhetoric championed by the Republican party and elected officials. It’s a coordinated deflection from the true cause of attacks, white nationalism, and loose gun laws. That’s the true threat to America, not video games.

The facts also back up no connection. While video game sales have increased, according to the FBI’s own statistics, violent crime has been steadily decreasing. In 2011, violent crimes nationwide decreased by 3.8% from 2010. Since 2002, it’s decreased by 15.5%. This is all during the time when games like Call of Duty and Halo have dominated sales. Other nations play the same video games and don’t see the violence and shooting that we see here in the United States.

While Trump also blames mental health, video games have been shown they can be used in therapy including for treating mental health issues.

The reality is President Trump’s own rhetoric fuels the violence and terrorist attacks. When an individual joked about shooting immigrants at a rally, Trump laughed. Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes. Both Trump and the El Paso White Nationalist used the term “invasion” when describing immigrants.

Hate crimes in the country increased by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017, marking the third straight year of a spike in hate crimes, according to an FBI report released last November.

At the same time, federal courts – including the Supreme Court – have routinely held that government regulation of media, including video games, is unconstitutional.  Funding more studies – or passing laws that then get fought out in courts – costs taxpayers millions of dollars. That’s money better spent on treating the mentally ill or shoring up and improving background checks for weapons purchases.

We’ve seen these same conversations before. In the 1950s comic books were blamed for truancy, violence, and homosexuality in youth. This lead to hearings in the United States Senate. We look back on this piece of history and laugh out how ludicrous this claim was then. It’s just as ludicrous today when the conversation turns to video games and their effects.

There’s no easy solution to prevent violence like these events. But focusing on the wrong things isn’t the answer. Make your voice heard today.

U.S. Senate Candidate Jaime Harrison Embraces Comics in His First Campaign Video

Jaime Harrison is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in South Carolina. In his first campaign video entitled “Character” Harrison talks about comics and uses panel visuals to tell his story.

In the 3 minute video, he recounts how comics were how he learned to read before going in to his “origin story.”

The video uses comic panels, and other visual styles, to tell his personal history and then go after his possible opponent Senator Lindsay Graham.

It’s an amazing use of comic visuals to tell a personal story.

Graphic Policy Weekly Episode 2: Elections Matter

Welcome to the second episode of Graphic Policy Weekly, our new weekly show going over the biggest comic news out there.

On this episode:
Last week and this week’s comics!
Marvel’s X-Line Gets Another Revamp
Read More
Atlas Comics is back!
Read More
Square Enix gets in to publishing in the US
Read more

Main story:
Elections and the policy spinning out of them impacts us every day but this past week has seen two big stories that impacts comics, games, toys, tv, and movies specifically. We talk about the Georgia abortion ban and the trade war with China.

NYCC 2018: Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Meets Convention Goers

Conventions are becoming a regular location for folks to get political. San Diego Comic-Con saw numerous groups registering voters. Congressman John Lewis has been to numerous conventions to promote his graphic novel March. New York Comic Con is getting a visit from 2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang who will be located at booth #2010

Andrew’s Platformis centered around the idea of providing a “Freedom Dividend” – a form of universal basic income (UBI) – to every American adult. It’s a concept that’s been seen in pop culture like Star Trek and The Expanse.

Andrew has been endorsed by technology futurists like Y Combinator founder, Sam Altman, as well as labor leaders like former head of the SEIU, Andy Stern.

Andrew is a big sci-fi and comics fan (particularly of Star Trek and the Marvel Universe) and is heading to the convention this week to meet the attendees and build support.

Editorial: Pruitt vs. Peck – Who’s Worse?

With EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt‘s scandals all over the headlines and him likely the next member of the Trump Admin to get the signature

it seems like a good time to ask the questions no one else is willing to ask: How bad is Scott Pruitt really at his job?

As the head of the EPA, it’s clear. He’s. . . uhm, how do you say?

Literally, the worst. Go ahead. Name one other truly bad EPA Administrator. Can you? (You must be one of my co-workers if you can.) They all look amazing by comparison. Yes, even Anne Gorsuch. Yes, even Stephen Johnson.

So, to really compare Pruitt to someone, we have to go to the world of fiction. And we look no further than fictional EPA apparatchik and classic 80’s villain Walter Peck from Ghostbusters. 

Let’s run down their CV’s:

scott-pruitt-800x430NAME: Scott Pruitt
JOB: EPA Administrator
HOME: Oklahoma, or sometimes a swanky DC condo owned by a lobbyist that he pays $50/night for.
ENEMIES: Clean air, clean water, a stable climate, science, and kittens, probably.
OTHER: Is a dick.

 

 

william-atherton-as-walter-peck-in-ghostbusters

NAME: Walter Peck (played by William Atherton)
JOB: EPA jerk
HOME: New York City
ENEMIES: Ghostbusters, especially Peter Venkman
OTHER: Has no dick. That’s at least what I heard.

 

Ok, so straight off, Pruitt is in the lead. Because, I mean, he’s not fictional. And Peck, while a jerk, was legitimately trying to do a job protecting the environment. Pruitt seems to think his job is to make it easier for big polluters to make big money. Fox, here’s your job guarding the henhouse.

So next let’s look at one trait they both share: Skepticism.

Both Pruitt and Peck are famous skeptics of scientists who actually know what they’re talking about. But while Peck is skeptical of Drs. Venkman, Spengler, and Stantz for saying they see ghosts, we can somewhat understand that position. I mean, it does seem unscientific to believe in ghosts.

Pruitt’s skepticism is about climate change. He has somewhat famously been pushing to do a “Red Team, Blue Team” “debate” about “climate science” but it has mostly been shut down. Why? Because even the worst of Trump’s cronies know that’s an extraordinarily bad idea to give a stage to the 3% of scientists who don’t believe the climate is changing from greenhouse gas pollution (and who all, coincidentally, take millions in cash from the coal, oil, and gas industries) because they’re essentially crackpot conspiracy theorists. Also, that’s not how science works, bro.

Again, advantage Pruitt.

Next? Biggest bombs.

Walter Peck famously shut off the Ghostbusters’ containment unit, equivalent to “dropping a bomb on the city.” Listen to how he fails to listen to not only the expert opinions of the people who understand the technology the best, but also neutral actors (like the ConEd guy) who says he doesn’t understand any of this and maybe they shouldn’t shut it all down? Instead, he seems to take glee in abusing his power, even telling the cop that he can shoot Venkman. Have a watch:

Pruitt’s bomb he’s dropped is similar, but less spectacular. By shutting off Obama’s landmark Clean Power Plan, which limited greenhouse gases from power plants, and rewriting clean car standards to allow for more pollution (and more automaker profits!), Pruitt has dropped a climate bomb on all of us. But it is one which will more affect our children and their children, even while we deal with the shorter terms consequences of more smog, more asthma attacks, more premature deaths.

On the other hand, blowing up the containment unit brought about the coming of Gozer the Destructor. So. . . advantage Peck on this one. But really only slightly.

How corrupt were they?

Well, Peck doesn’t seem to be corrupt other than he’s a guy on a power trip. Meanwhile, Pruitt seems more like a fictional cartoon supervillain for all his corporate stoogery. Here’s an internet challenge: can you name all of Pruitt’s scandals in 30 seconds?

The Washington Post is saying Pruitt’s excuses for his corruption are “crumbling” and even Fox News is dogpiling on as his lavish travel, 24/7 security detail, sweetheart deals with lobbyists, and general mendacity become more and more impossible to defend.

Some of the highlights of Pruitt’s ineptitude? First, his entire reasoning for needing a 24/7 security detail and to fly first class everywhere? Because, apparently, people who care about the environment are mean to him. In his requests for first class travel, he recounts an incident where someone at the airport baggage claim confronted him and told him, “Hey Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment.”

Beyond pointing out that flying first class still means you have to stand at the baggage claim with everyone else, this is just a lame excuse from a fragile snowflake who can’t take criticism for his work. An easier solution? Pruitt could maybe not f— up the environment? And then people wouldn’t be mad at him.

But his security detail and security concerns. Whoa. . . there’s so much to unpack here. So, first, Pruitt had them build a soundproof secure booth in his office. Why would the EPA Administrator need this? Sure, head of the CIA or Secretary of Defense or State. . .  but EPA? Lots of state secrets you can’t share with the public, Scott?

Or– OR– this was just a clever way to be able to skirt freedom of information and oversight laws and make it easier to collude with corporate polluters about what kinds of policies they wanted. I can just see it now. . .

“Administrator Pruitt, your landlord is on the line.”
“Great, is he calling about the leaky faucet?”
“No, he says you’re late on your rent, but mostly he’s calling to talk about his clients’ pipelines and the clean car standards on behalf of the auto industry. He also wants to know if you’re going on the swanky Morocco junket to promote natural gas exports for his clients.”
“I REQUEST A CONE OF SILENCE!”

***AND…. SCENE***

But this security detail. . . they’re just the gift that keeps on giving. Apparently Pruitt made EPA pay for a door to the condo he was renting, because they broke it down while their boss was taking a nap.

Then, when Pruitt was late for a dinner at a fancy restaurant, he asked if they could put the sirens on. Taking a page from Ghostbusters, “Hey, let’s run some red lights!”

The icing on the cake of this story is Pruitt’s security told him they could not turn on the sirens unless there was an emergency. Pruitt then fired his security chief like any toddler throwing a tantrum because they can’t turn on the sirens.

Walter Peck? He did none of these things. A million points to Pruitt, none to Peck.

And finally, how’d they end up? Well, we only assume Pruitt is covered with an oily sheen gotten from bathing in the ill-gotten gains from his friends in the fossil fuel industry. He’s also surrounded by a dense cloud of smoke– but one can’t be sure if that’s from the coal stacks or just ethical problems. Peck, however, made it out at least a little better.

While being covered in liquid Stay Puft goo was described as “feel[ing] so funky” and “like the floor of a taxi cab,” at least marshmallow is yummy, and it’s nothing a shower and a trip to the dry cleaner’s can’t fix. Pruitt wins this round, too.

So, who’s worse? Pruitt, Pruitt, Pruitt.

When you lose so badly to a classic 80’s movie villain, you really need to wonder just how bad of a person you are.

Join us in our next round of these articles where I compare Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Hedley Lamarr from Blazing Saddles or Mark Zuckerberg to famous James Bond villains.

Support Comic Creators By Rejecting Graham-Cassidy and Supporting Healthcare

We’ve reiterated numerous times on our site that ending the Affordable Care Act would have a devestating impact on the comic industry. Way back in February I brought up the fact the industry should get organized politically to oppose legislation such as this and prepare for battles in the future.

Here’s what I had to say then:

The pay for comic creators can be pretty low and add on top of that a lack of benefits and it’s clear that eeking out a living as a creator isn’t the easiest or most rewarding career there is. Freelance creators are forced to purchase their own healthcare through the ACA, from a union, a spouse, or through another job. That first option is currently at risk with threats of a repeal which will cost an estimated 18 million people their insurance in the first year.

Our insurance system is flawed, that’s not what this is about, this is about ensuring an easy way for self-employed individuals to gain insurance, not be discriminated against due to pre-existing conditions, and benefiting women and helping with their choice of birth control.

A repeal would increase costs by either putting some individuals in a high cost “risky pool,” deny coverage outright, or increase out of pocket benefits. It’s estimated that women will have to pay $1.4 billion in copay for birth control for instance.

That’s less money in the pockets of creators. More freelance jobs needed to take. Possibly greater cover prices due to the need to charge more by freelancers. Decreased health. Less money means less traveling for conventions. Less interaction because time spent online is time not spent earning money.

Quality of life will decrease for those in the industry.

What this means is the industry needs to start thinking of solutions. A guild through which freelancers could purchase insurance or publishers offering ways for creators to buy into their offerings are both solutions. Now is the time to think this through before it’s too late.

All of that stands today and we’re about seven days until creators who rely on the ACA can breathe a bit easier. Republican Senators are attempting to ram through legislation to gut the ACA before the end of the month because after they’ll need to work with Democrats as they’ll have to get 60 votes to pass major legislation.

Cassidy-Graham is a joke of a legislation shifting funds into block grants for states and allowing them to each set up their own system and standards. Some might do better than what the government does while others could gut protections and guarantees that exist causing skyrocketing costs leaving individuals destitute.

It’s reported that:

  • 21 to 32 million will lose their insurance
  • Those with pre-existing conditions will not be protected
  • “Under this bill, pregnancy will cost you an extra 17K. Metastatic cancer 172K. Autism 5K. Asthma 4K.” Just some examples.

Those with pre-existing conditions will see increases in their insurance and those who face life threatening illnesses won’t be able to afford treatment. While John McCain has said he will oppose the legislation putting the 50 votes it needs in doubt, there’s still a chance like a serial killer in a movie, it’ll come back to life before the month is done.

So, we’re asking you to take action and make your voice heard. Here’s a handy tool that you can fill out and they’ll connect you with your elected officials as well as a script for you to read. By doing so, you’ll support creators and allow them to worry about one thing less in their lives when this legislation is defeated.

Educator’s Perspective: “Sh*t My President Says”

It’s said that no work of literature is written in a vacuum.

One of the first things you learn to do as an undergrad in any course in literature is to unpack the political, cultural, and societal implication of whatever it is you’re reading, because whether the author intended it or not, he or she was assuredly influenced by the circumstances in which it was written.  Even as a high school student I learned that Shakespeare’s fascination with witchcraft in Macbeth is likely an influence of the King under which he was writing, who had an interest in the occult himself; The Lord of the Flies and Animal Farm both have their roots in a kind of British political anxiety, and the only way that On the Road can be more of a manifesto of the early counterculture movement is if copies of it are beaten by riot officers.

Yet I’ve always been more interested in the political, cultural, and social capital hidden away in the more obscure media, the stuff that, for whatever reason, has for so long escaped the notice of conventional scholarship. Though teachers have long adored the political cartoon there remains a strange, standoffish attitude toward the comic book, as though we’re all still in the 1950s and Dr. Wertham is sitting across from us making all sorts of uncomfortable eye contact over a stack of World’s Finest. Thankfully that attitude has receded significantly in recent years and I’m happy to see more and more that teachers like myself are having success in using the rife political and cultural content of comics as a springboard to discuss ideas as diverse and grandiose as race relations, diplomacy, and the importance of de-mystifying the “other”ness of foreign cultures, peoples, and ideologies.

The conversation about the political and sociocultural implications of comics – really, of all media – is always hobbled somewhat when it hits a K-12 classroom environment.  There begin conversations about correctness and age-appropriateness, and whether a book can or should be introduced to the student population for fear of indoctrination. Year after year mainstays like The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird are called into question by school boards and parent groups across the country, and while their reasons are varied they general boil down to what we want our children to discover about who and what we are.  Works that are censored for classroom use have a common thread: they oftentimes highlight the worst of us, in an attempt to ensure that we avoid making the mistakes of our ancestry.

That being said, it seems highly unlike that Shannon Wheeler’s “Sh*t My President Says” will ever see regular use as a implement of classroom instruction, given that it is both a comic book, and therefore still a subject of academic uncertainty by some of my colleagues, and demonstrative of one of the most deranged, startling, and ultimately embarrassing garbage fires of the 21st century.  It is eye-opening in its candor, tragically funny, vitally informative, and ought to be required reading for anyone hoping to study the political machine of the early 21st century. It may very well be one of the most important historical artifacts of this decade.

All because of Twitter.

“Sh*t My President Says” is a perfect example of the historically-embedded nature of media. Even without Wheeler’s accompanying caricatures of Trump as a riotous toddler with a phone fetish, the collection of our mentally-errant President’s 140-character temper tantrums provides a sobering look at just how we got to where we are. Taken with Shannon Wheeler’s supplemental artwork, the Tweets take on a second life: their childishness is thrown into a stark relief with the inclusion of the author’s idealized boy king Trump, and indeed the whole work might read as a fiction were we not living it as we are now.

From a teachable standpoint, nothing beats a work that provides the subject’s words as they were uttered while simultaneously offering a responding critique of them. In this way Shannon Wheeler has submitted to his audience a kind of living primary source, an artifact that both serves to document history as well as record our collective reaction to the oftentimes unbelievable events of our current political climate – which, of course, is a form of history in and of itself.

Is it teachable? Absolutely, and pertinently so: in much the same way that we recognize the crassness of the language in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or the sexuality of “The Awakening” as indicative of the societies and cultures of the time in which they were written, Wheeler’s compilation of the fractured thoughts of our enfeebled Commander-in-Chief are likewise a reflection of the state of our society. Wheeler provides a means to process an pivotal event in American political history in a way that is accessible for its simplicity, honest for its presentation, and as painless  an experience as it could be possibly be for the author’s satirical approach to her bumbling, foolhardy subject matter.

Nevertheless, I give Mr. Wheeler a great deal of credit for his work in compiling this trainwreck of a timeline in recording the Trump tweets he has.  For the levity with which it is presented, there is something truly sinister about seeing these words become actions, and those actions engender other, more awful actions. Longtime exposure to those levels of ego-maniacal word vomit cannot be healthy for an individual, and I hope sincerely that Mr. Wheeler recovers quickly for his exposure.

While its unflinching revelation of the worst of our potential all but guarantees it never sees widespread classroom use, I fully expect that passages from “Sh*t My President Says” will find their way into political science and literature classrooms across the globe. This cutting work of comics journalism is a vibrant reminder of how we ended up in this mess, and I wager that there’s more than a few daring educators willing to make the case that, like Mockingbird and Rye, just because something is uncomfortable doesn’t mean that we turn a blind eye to its implications.

Literature isn’t written in a vacuum – but sometimes the stuff that inspires it sucks nonetheless.  It’s our job to learn from it, and works like Wheeler’s make that possible.

Book and Comic Publisher Françoise Nyssen is Heading Up France’s Cultural Ministry

With the French election over, the task of setting up a new government begins and France’s new Macron government is looking towards books and comics when it comes to their new Minister of Culture. Publisher Françoise Nyssen will head up the ministry in the Macron government. Nussen, Belgian by birth but a naturalized French citizen who also holds degrees in chemistry and urban planning, was the president of the publishing cooperative Paradou and eventually became chairwoman of the board of Actes Sud.

While the story of a book publisher being appointed to such a position would be enough for this site, Actes Sud also has a line of comics/graphic novels, yes a comic publisher is actually in the position. And it’s an impressive line-up of graphic novels and comics.

Some issues Nyssen might tackle include an incentive program to have libraries open on Sundays, an “art allowance,” and making cultural institutions’ executive appointments more reflective of the French population’s diversity.

This is the latest example of comic fans taking over politics and congrats to Nyssen.

(via Publishing Perspectives)

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