Mistaking Exaggeration for Advocacy…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 6, 2011

The proliferation of outlets for people’s opinions has had, I believe, a specific detrimental effect on editorial cartoons. With blogs and comment boards and talk radio/TV, more and more people can opine more strongly, more boldly, and with less editing, which pushes discourse to the extreme in order to stand out and be heard. Historically, editorial cartoons have used exaggeration to make their point. They are not intended to be taken at face value — they are often meant to be ridiculous and entertaining to reveal a truth by contrast. Unfortunately, I think more and more readers miss the exaggeration and assume pure advocacy.

So in this cartoon, for instance. I’m not saying all our country’s problems can be solved by reading books to kids. I’m simply saying that some of time spent going on and on about what is the best for “the future of the children” (re: the recent debt ceiling debate) could be much more effective by actually, you know, spending time with our children. (Note: The book the kid is holding is “Olivia” by Ian Falconer, which is one of my all-time favorites.)


  1. Kris said,

    August 12, 2011 @ 7:39 am

    Olivia books rock! And I think most Americans might have the attention span to read them but I can hear a certain minority saying that pigs don’t talk or wear clothes.

  2. Paul said,

    August 20, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

    Really insightful, John. Good to see you again at the reunion too.

  3. John Auchter said,

    August 22, 2011 @ 4:52 am

    Thanks, Paul. That was fun, wasn’t it? Wish there was another one next year.

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