Posts Tagged ‘Bloom County’

‘Bloom County’ Cartoon on TV Advertising and Media Bias

May 8, 2017

I used to be a fan of the newspaper cartoon strip, Bloom County, which was syndicated in America and over here, in the pages of the Guardian, in the 1980s. Set in the American Midwest, and with cast of characters that included a corrupt lawyer, a talking penguin and his similarly loquacious animal friends, and a primary schoolboy working as a cub reporter, it commented on and satirised the social and political conditions of Reagan’s America.

One of the issues it commented on was the increasing power of television advertising over the minds of the young. This was when TV shows, like Masters of the Universe, were appearing which were tied to lines of toys, and whose purpose was really to promote them.

At the same time, politicians and the public were becoming increasingly concerned about media bias, particularly on television.

In this cartoon from Bloom County, a worried mother tries to get her husband to notice how the television is brainwashing their son into buying a line of toys, somewhat like the Masters of the Universe figures. But her husband isn’t listening, being brainwashed by his television into voting for a particular senator.

If you can’t read it, click on the image to enlarge.

Even though this cartoon dates from c. 1988, nearly 30 years ago, that issue hasn’t gone away. It’s come back with a vengeance in the way Trump’s popularity as a television presenter on the American version of The Apprentice undoubtedly helped to get him into the White House.

And in Britain the media, including the BBC, has been resolutely determined to attack, belittle and sneer at Labour party and particularly Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in Momentum, the most egregious bias being shown by Laura Kuenssberg. Instead of Senator Glump as the person people should be voting for, this cartoon could easily be republished today with the TV telling them to vote for Theresa May. As for being a ‘Bolshevik weenie’, this is the line that the Tory press and the Blairites in Labour have been using against Jeremy Corbyn by smearing him as a Trotskyite. Just as the Republicans fell over themselves in fits screaming that Barack Obama was a dangerous Commie Muslim Nazi, who wanted to destroy all Whites.

Things don’t seem to have got better over the past three decades.

It’s time to stop this nonsense right now, and shake off challenge the lies of mainstream media.

Mark Twain: American Anti-Imperialist

February 25, 2014

Mark Twain is truly one of the giants of American literature. Millions of children throughout the world have been brought up on Tow Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, though he wrote much, much more, all with his warm, dry wit. I can remember reading his travel book, The Innocents Abroad, at college, which describes his adventures touring Europe, with its wry observations of the countries, ships and hotels he journey through. His folksy style has become one of the fundamental characteristics of America’s image. Way back in the 1980s, for example, the cartoon strip, Bloom County, had two of its characters, Milo and Owen Wendelle Jones lying down, looking up at the night’s sky and arguing whether the universe was created or ‘just made’, just like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

What is less well known is that Twain was a fierce critic of American imperialism. At the end of the 19th century the doctrine of ‘Manifest Destiny’ led America into a war with Spain for the remains of the latter’s possessions in the New World. Spain was defeated, and a victorious America took over the former colonies of Guam, Cuban, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. These conquered territories were not colonies, however, but designated as ‘protectorates’.

Twain was appalled at his country’s transformation into an imperial power, and formed the Anti-Imperialist League of the United States to protest this. He used his characteristic dry wit to satirise the US’ new status of imperial overlord and oppressor. Of the changes to be made to the Philippine flag, he said

it is easily managed. We can have a special one – our states do it: we can just have our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.

There’s an attitude in parts of the American Right that sees any criticism of America and its global imperial power as coming from a deep-seated hatred of America, ignoring the fact that some of the greatest figures of American history and literature, like Twain, have been sharply critical of such policies.