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Halimah Abu-Hassan
Olivia Rines
UWRT 1101
7 February 2015
Power of Political Cartoons
Political cartoons are often used to communicate a variety of messages to readers.
Many times political cartoonists use the art to send a message to readers in a humorous way
from political situations that do not usually generate any humor. Political cartoonists use
satire/irony to communicate with readers on a level they are able to resonate with more so
than in a news article. The cartoons tell a story using a rhetoric that narrates any political
event. Artists use political cartoons instead of literature to communicate for a variety of
reasons.
Political cartoons are used for communicating the same thing as any piece of news that
could come from CNN, BBC, FOX, NPR or ABC but it sends the same message in a
humorous light. When news sources such as the ones mentioned previously report on
political events they are generally told in a somber tone and younger audiences have trouble
connecting to such news. Many people find the usual news sources to be depressing and avoid
them. While people find news depressing they will usually enjoy viewing a political cartoon
because there is no dark text to surround it. Political cartoons not only send powerful
messages in a humorous tone but they do it quickly as opposed to taking pages to
communicate messages through a lengthy text. Political cartoons generally keep the lexis
level low while also using political diction. Usually the style is pretty formal with a box

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structure containing a cartoon and a lack of proper grammar. The cartoons simplicity
contributes to the appeal of the cartoon to the readers. Although the cartoons are simple to the
eye, many believe that the reader should have a visual literacy. In Multiliteracies: how
readers interpret political cartoons Elisabeth El Refaie described visual literacy as a
habitual way of seeing and requires various skills in framing, selecting, editing and decoding
the visual material that surrounds us. (El Refaie 182). Elisabeth is sayingsays that although
political cartoons are just a picture, they the pictures require a certain thought process of
learning how to decode the material in front of the reader. Most political cartoons are thought
provoking and go beyond what meets the eye. Most cartoons generate a thoughtful response
from the readerare thought provoking. Most commonly, cartoons address a current political
issue or event, a social trend, or a famous personality, in a way that takes a stand or presents a
particular point of view. ( El Refaie 185). Political cartoons make a commentary on a
variety of political topics.

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Luckovich, Mike. "Best Obama Cartoons - Best Obama Political Cartoons of All Time." Best
Obama Cartoons - Best Obama Political Cartoons of All Time. Political Humor, 9 Jan.
2011. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
In Luckovichs cartoon he makes a statement about Obama and his lack of
bipartisanship with the Republican congress. The elephants say, Obama peeled potatoes ,
We Mmust repeal them! The satire Luckovich displays is a perfect example of what we call
an American government. Obama the democratic president has been trying to set forth liberal
progressive legislation. The obvious liberal cartoon displays the obvious backlash of Obamas
legislation from the Republican congress. At a first glance one may think it just shows the
Republicans disdain for Obamas politics but it goes beyond that. Luckovich shows the readers
that the Republican congress makes Obamas life difficult. Although what the picture depicts
is not funny the artist puts the situation in a humorous light. The cartoon is probably directed
towards a more liberal crowd but the story being narrated can be understood and seen from a
conservative point of view as well.

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Krule, Miriam. "Charlie Hebdos Most Controversial Religious Covers, Explained." Slate. 7
Jan. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
The French satirical magazine that published the above cartoon has been under
scrutiny and attacked for their publications. The main cartoonist in charge of the
magazine was called Charlie Hebdo. He is now a symbol for free speech everywhere
and has been labeled as a martyr. The satirical magazine has been called many names
such as Islamophobic, and has been said to be against womens issues. After the
magazines office had been attacked with a Molotov cocktail the website published the
above article. After the article came out the website was hacked with the phrase No
God but Allah. The attackers did not like the drawings of the Islamic prophet
Muhammed. The magazine had depicted him as homosexual, a pedophile, and other
gave me many obscene titles. In the cartoon above the prophet is drawn saying 100
coups de fouet, si vous netes pas mourts de rire!" The quote translates to 100 lashes if

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you dont die of laughter. The intended audience of the magazine is people who enjoy
satire. The magazine not only makes fun of Islam but it pokes fun at almost all
controversial topics. Since Islam is under a lot of scrutiny recently the magazine has
targeted a lot of Islamic beliefs because it is so controversial especially in France.
The cartoon Hebdo created with the title Charia Hebdo was ais a
commentary on the at the time recent election in Tunisia. The election was a win for
an Islamist group in Tunisia, which allegedly supported Sharia law. Hebdo said the
magazine was guest edited by Muhammad, making a commentary on the way the
prophet Muhammad agreed for people to live their lives. The magazine was making
fun of sharia law and depicting the prophet as foolish. The magazine has a large crowd
all over France and now draws attention from all over the world. After Charlie was
murdered his cartoons have now become a symbol for free speech.

CARDOW, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN. "Worstest President in History - Bush Political


Cartoon." Political Humor. Cagle Cartoons, 14 Jan. 2009. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

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Cardow uses the cartoon to poke fun at George W. Bush. The structure of the three
blocks with silly comentarycommentary and caricature pictures of Bush made to have overly
large ears, and mouse-like face adds to the comedic imagery of Bush. During Bushs
presidency from 2001-2009 he faced much criticism because of his lack of speaking skills,
which led to much commentary on his lack of intelligence. The cartoon takes a sensitive topic
of the lack of the mans intelligence and turns it into a joke. After Bushs presidency the
country went through a rough patch for a very long time, which is what got Bush, labeled as
the worst president and many other nicknames.

Bennett, Clay. "Clay Bennett's Editorial Cartoons." CartoonistGroup. Chattanooga


Times Free Press, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

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In an obvious liberal cartoon Bennett depicts the United States immigration policies.
Obama has passed the Dream Act and made a variety of executive orders in order to help
illegal immigrants stay in the country without being deported. America is a country that has
been built and expanded upon by the work of immigrants. , yet Although the country was
built on the work of immigrants it is an extremely lengthy and hard process to become a
citizen now in time. The deportation rate was 315,943 in 2014 according to ICE. Even though
there has been legislation trying to prevent deportation and the number has gone down in
years it has not been much easier to be granted citizenship. Bennett is saying in the cartoon
that America makes it seem like they are trying to help people become citizens but in the long
run they are only leading people out. The cartoon comments on the flaws of the U.S
immigration policy.
The genre of political cartoons is always changing and constantly making bold
statementsconstantly changing. ..viewers must not only be able to read a cartoons visual
lexis, but also its visual syntax, the specific patterns for how meanings are put together in
images. (El Refaie 193). El Refaie talks about how when one is viewing a political cartoon it
is important for the audience to understand the words on the cartoon but to also understand
the arrangement of the cartoon and why each part of the cartoon has been placed the way it is.
The set up of the cartoon is pertinent in the understanding of it. From this project I have
learned that analyzing a political cartoon goes beyond the words on the picture. One must
understand the background and context of what is being portrayed in the cartoon. Also I
learned to keep in mind the cartoonists motive behind their drawing. This assignment made
me realize that political cartoons are extremely powerful pieces of work in todays society,
and will only continue to grow in popularity and meaning.

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Works Cited
Bennett, Clay. "Clay Bennett's Editorial Cartoons." CartoonistGroup. Chattanooga Times Free Press,
1 Jan. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
CARDOW, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN. "Worstest President in History - Bush Political Cartoon."
Political Humor. Cagle Cartoons, 14 Jan. 2009. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.
Conners, Joan L. "Popular Culture in Political Cartoons: Analyzing Cartoonist Approaches."
Cambridge Journals Online. Cambridge Journals, Apr. 2007. Web. 23 Jan. 2015.
EL REFAIE, ELISABETH. "Multiliteracies: How Readers Interpret Political Cartoons." Sage
Journals (2009). Http://vcj.sagepub.com. SAGE Publications. Web. 1 Jan. 2015.
"FY 2014 ICE Immigration Removals." FY 2014 ICE Immigration Removals. Official Website of the
Department of Homeland Security. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.

Krule, Miriam. "Charlie Hebdos Most Controversial Religious Covers, Explained." Slate. 7 Jan.
2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2015.

Luckovich, MIke. "Best Obama Cartoons - Best Obama Political Cartoons of All Time." Best Obama
Cartoons - Best Obama Political Cartoons of All Time. Political Humor, 9 Jan. 2011. Web.
25 Jan. 2015.

I really enjoyed reading your draft. However, there are a number of issues that, if resolved,
could substantially improve your paper. First, please make sure that every claim that you are
making in this paper is supported by evidence and/or citations. All facts, unless they are
commonly known by the general public, must be supported by evidence/citations. Second,
when you were analyzing your examples, you were focusing too much on the information
presented in the text and not enough on the aspects of the text that make it fit or not fit the
genre described. This paper should be focused solely on the genre of the political cartoon.
Finally, a number of the questions (please see rubric below) were not answered in your paper.

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I would strongly encourage you to reread the assignment sheet and come to me with
questions.
The following is the rubric for the assignment, including what you would have received had
this draft been your final draft. This grade will not be recorded anywhere. It is simply a
chance for you to see where you stand.
Category

Content
(60 points)

Organization
(10 points)
Style and
Conventions
(30 points)
Score

Scoring Criteria
Is focused, clear, purposeful, and meets the needs of the audience
States the main function/communicative purpose of the genre and how
the purpose is accomplished
States the discourse mode(s) commonly used in the genre
States the core features of the genre and how the features are shaped by
the communicative purpose
States the context, intended, actual audience, and biases at play for each
text
States if each text fits the genre
All claims made are supported. Writer uses specific references to sources
to support claims.
Introduction establishes a framework for the rest of the paper and
includes a thesis statement.
There is an obvious conclusion summarizing the paper that discusses the
evolution of the genre and what the writer learned
Utilizes a strong internal structure and purposefully moves the reader
easily through the text.
Vocabulary and word choice are precise and varied.
Sentences are all well-crafted and consistently varied in structure, length,
and beginning.
The writer demonstrates a firm grasp of the conventions of written
English (spelling, capitalization, punctuation etc.). There are no typos.
Is formatted according to the conventions of MLA
Is 1500 2000 words
Total Points

Total
Points
5

Score
4

10

10

10

10

10
5
100

8
5
58