political cartoons

Damien Hirst, Monument to the Living and the Dead, 2006
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By DANIEL BRAZIL*

What is Bolsonaro if not a Dick Vigarista who rides a motorcycle and has many “followers”

There was a time when theater occupied people's imagination with costumes, idols and examples of good and evil. Not only the Greek archetypes, still remembered today, but the characters of Shakespeare, Moliére or Rostand, in the XNUMXth century, also created models of behavior that are reflected until our days. It was common in the following centuries for people to be classified, according to their behavior, appearance or some unusual feat, as Romeos, Juliets, Tartuffes, Dons Juans or Cyranos de Bergerac (this is a real character, made famous by Rostand's play).

Literature has become the ideal vehicle for the dissemination of characters who end up becoming comparative models of behavior. Figures like the dreamy Quixote, the dissatisfied Emma Bovary, the jealous Bentinho or the divided Raskolnikov are still remembered by the most cultured when they come across real figures who emulate those behaviors.

Cinema, the art of the XNUMXth century, introduced new cultural parameters, absorbing and adapting theatrical and literary examples, but also creating new paradigmatic characters. Many men tried to imitate Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn or John Wayne, in their most famous roles, while women wanted to be Olivia de Havilland, Vivian Leigh or Rita Hayworth. Or rather, the characters who lived on screen.

Talkies are largely responsible for promoting this subtle change in model building. Introduces characters with no past. They have no history, they have no experience, facts arise and die – when they die – as they appeared, without changing their characteristics. Characters-synthesis, models, archetypes, which have their epitome in the heroes of comics and cartoons.

And the general public was getting used to – or being used to – this: not needing history, psychological and historical construction, contenting itself with actions and appearances. It is a kind of intellectual regression, if we compare it with the audience of the Greek or Elizabethan theater, with the romantic readers of serials in the XNUMXth century, with the readers of the XNUMXth century. Television, as the most powerful means of communication of our time, plays a fundamental role in this status quo It is not by chance that the smartest movie and comic book writers have realized this, trying to build a psychologically more elaborate past for some characters, such as Batman, Joker or Spider-Man.

On the other hand, cartoons, theoretically intended for a children's audience, dispense with this deepening. The child wants to see action and know the real qualities and defects of his heroes and villains, dismissing his past. It is common, and natural, to see children assume gestures and behaviors of animation characters. The worrying thing is to see more and more young people and adults doing the same.

A strong symptom that humanity has adapted well to this cultural infantilization is the fact that the protagonists of the world's political scenario are increasingly resembling cartoon characters. Pinochet, Ulstra, Boris Johnson, Trump, Bozo, are caricatures of evil. Beings of obscure biography, who are firmly established in the popular imagination more for their grotesque appearance than for any human content.

Some will say that the Pope, Mandela or Lula are also caricatured. Well, we all are, but not all of us are caricatures. The difference is that the ex-president has a well-known biography, constructed in social and humanistic terms, since he was a labor leader, just like Bergoglio or Madiba. Who actually knows Trump's biography? Or Doria, Musk or Moro? What is Bolsonaro if not a Dick Swindler who rides a motorcycle and whose scams end up going wrong, and who still has many “followers”?

But although this shallow (and also caricatured) portrait fits well with electoral ambitions and other shady activities, it is always necessary to emphasize that they represent more than that. They are puppets, but manipulated by Machiavellian and totalitarian interests, which increasingly suffocate culture, knowledge and history, seeking a new period of darkness. For them, the ideal is a world where politics is reduced to a bad quality movie, to be watched on the couch, eating popcorn, while they devastate the planet.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penallux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.

 

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