This is the question that the cartoonist asks himself Nick Newman and which he uses as an alibi to give a more in-depth opinion on the issue of the representation of diversity in cartoons in an article in The Spetctator.
According to Newman, “Of the many challenges cartoonists face — rejection, money, drink, or lack of — one of the trickiest is the growing pressure to depict diversity. Nowadays readers often write to publications complaining about the dearth of ethnic minorities in our drawings and demand for cartoons to be more inclusive.”.
The author asserts that “it’s like being trapped in a bad political cartoon, walking a tightrope above a minefield. A quick survey of my cartoonist colleagues in the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (UK) highlighted the following”:
- Cartoons involve laughing at someone. If that person is black, you risk appearing racist; even including a BAME character in the background of drawing can lead to accusations of tokenism (‘background box-tickers’).
- Including any minority character in a cartoon can run the risk of implying that the cartoon is about race and so can inadvertently politicise the cartoon.
- At the end of the day, it’s safer to make the pale, male and stale the butt of the joke.
Newman also reviews the problems that can arise from the use of stereotypes, even unintentional ones can provoke accusations of promoting racial hatred, but you’d better read the full article in his source, I’ve already stolen too much from his text.