Friday, September 09, 2011

Go Fish: How to win Contempt and Influence People by Mr. Fish

Mr. Fish is a political cartoonist who draws for the online site Truthdig, Harper's and has drawn for the Village Voice, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, Huffington Post and Vanity Fair, among others.

Unlike many political cartoonists, though, nobody's sacred cow is safe from being gored by Mr. Fish- from Christianity to the Right, the Left, the Center, and the Center- Left and Center-Right, no one is safe from his scathing satire. In one he mocks those who seek pacifism, in another he shows how War is no better.

His political cartoons are well done and occasionally disturbing, even crude, with one being Jane (from the old "Dick and Jane" books raising her skirt to reveal a very large, hairy penis with the caption "See Jane's Dick". In between cartoons linked together by topic are his writings, which express deeper, more complex views on life and politics. Even some of his cartoons express disgust with, say, the 2007/2008 Presidential campaign, which got so ridiculously vicious he actually got tired of drawing cartoons about it and retaliated by drawing a picture of himself picking his nose to express what he'd rather be doing.

Very many of his cartoons, even while being satire, are funny. Like the one of a young Cupid at the dinner table pierced full of arrows an him looking over the table at his presumed parents (also drawn with wings) with the caption about Cupid thinking his parents suspected he was masturbating. I appreciated the implied joke of Cupid bringing love with his arrows and masturbation being "self-love". Others are funny in a more disturbing way, like a blood-spattered man with a knife standing over a figure stabbed full of holes saying, "Well, he protested at first, but now look at him. Not a word." to two doubtful figures standing by. Or the one of an orangutan about to shoot itself in the head when it found out it was related to humans.

Not everyone may enjoy Mr. Fish's sense of humor, but part of the thing about political humor and satire is that it's not meant to be funny in a ha-ha kind of way, although it can. This sort of searing humor disquiets as much as it amuses, and sometimes, indeed, many times, the disquiet overcomes the straight up ha-ha humor. In that, Mr. Fish is very talented, because I certainly felt that all throughout the book.

I have no sacred oxen to be gored, but I can understand why this book would appeal to, and at the same time, anger and annoy all sides of the political spectrum- it's because he doles out his razor wit and satire on both sides of the aisle, and nobody but nobody is safe. This sort of humor will best appeal to you if you are able to laugh at yourself and your own political party. Otherwise, you may find the book making you angry.

But these cartoons do make you think, no matter which side you are on. That's because Dwayne Booth (Mr. Fish's real name) stands for truth and the sort of journalistic integrity you rarely see any more. Wether a cartoon makes you angry or makes you laugh, they will always make you think, and that's something this country needs a great deal right now. Highly recommended.

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