London cartoon exhibition on Iraq war

This video is called Simpsons Censored; about censorship in the US cartoon series The Simpsons.

It is about an invasion of Earth by aliens from another planet.

“A comparison between the pre-air version of the Simpsons and the one that made it to the air, with the latter being censored due to a comment about the Iraq War”.

UPDATE December 2009: this video was removed from YouTube by Twentieth Century Fox Corporation.

From British daily The Morning Star:

Seeing through the war spin

(Monday 09 July 2007)

EXHIBITION: Blair’s Legacy – Cartoonists’ Views of the Iraq War


Political Cartoon Gallery, London WC1

MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: Blair’s Legacy – Cartoonists’ Views of the Iraq War.

What are the most common words used in reports about the Anglo-US invasion of Iraq? There is a wide choice but disaster, brutality and incompetence must be favourites.

The current exhibition at the Political Cartoon Gallery of cartoonists’ views of the invasion lets visitors see these same words expressed visually.

These are images which stick and burn in the mind like napalm, a comparison evoked by Dave Brown’s take on Nick Ut’s photograph of a young Vietnamese girl running from a US attack. In Brown’s vision, the girl is replaced by George Bush, naked except for a fig leaf of Tony Blair‘s grinning face, exclaiming: “Another Vietnam, my ass.”

War has always driven cartoonists to produce some of their most unforgettable work and it is almost impossible to look at any cartoon in this exhibition without stumbling over painful historical references.

Some are explicit, such as Peter Schrank’s portrayal of Blair as a latter-day Chamberlain, bringing his “evidence” of Iraqi misdemeanours to a press conference on a battered post-it note.

This image makes Blair himself evidence of the slide towards war, his hair combed into a quiff like antennae tuned into radio WMD, relaying only the messages he wants to hear.

One of the most telling and subtle drawings is by Times cartoonist Morten Morland, the exhibition’s youngest contributor.

Three men, one in the black robes of a Shia cleric, are attempting to assemble the jigsaw that is the Iraqi constitution under the supervision of Jalal Talabani.

Uncle Sam chivvies at the door and the harassed Talabani turns and snarls: “In a minute.” To the onlooker, it seems clear that the constitutional jigsaw is not going to work out, there are not enough straight edges and no-one can fathom the shape or boundaries of this puzzle.

Iraq’s geography increasingly resembles Morland’s shattered jigsaw as neighbours like Iran and Turkey ignore old borders to pursue their own regional ambitions.

Cartoons share certain characteristics with war, being about polemic, not discussion and the use of powerful, iconic symbols and figures.

This exhibition is united and haunted by three figures – Bush, Blair and an anonymous, hooded Iraqi prisoner, forever associated with the abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Saddam, once celebrated in portraits and statues displayed throughout Iraq, himself responsible for so much brutality, has been superseded by the image of a torture victim.

In a country as damaged and traumatised as Iraq, this is hardly astonishing, given the number of people who have died or been maimed in the name of building democracy.

The gulf between stated aims and reality is captured in a Chris Riddell cartoon of an armed US soldier and a hooded prisoner.

The soldier looks blank and shell-shocked. He is saying “sorry,” but it comes out as a tiny, ineffectual word which dawdles in the air, waiting to be brought down by the next gunshot.

The prisoner crouches far below the soldier’s line of vision. Neither man can see the other. There is no recognition, no connecting gaze.

It goes in line with the principle of punishment at one step removed – prosecute those who record prisoner abuse on their cameras and mobile phones, but don’t go after those who set the agenda and authorise this kind of treatment.

In the midst of this disordered landscape, Bush and Blair feature as a surreal cabaret act, determined to cling on to their own version of reality, even if they can’t impose it.

Progressing through the exhibition, it seems as though Blair’s grin grows ever more fixed and ghastly and Bush’s eyes recede further into his head, until he becomes a creature glimpsed staring out of a dark tunnel.

The delusion and disgrace are united in Schrank’s image of Blair as an Abu Ghraib prisoner, draped in a ragged US flag, electrodes taped to his palms like stigmata.

In another Schrank cartoon, Blair and Bush cavort together, telling an audience of corpses to stand up for liberty and democracy.

Their stage is, literally, Iraq, the name written in giant, crumbling letters across a battlefield, the “I” represented by a fractured minaret.

Chaos, brutality, delusion – this is what Iraq spells.

Shows at the Political Cartoon Gallery, 32 Store Street, London WC1E 7BS until September 1.

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