By George Theodoridis
It is a case -as it bloody nearly always is- of relevance deprivation and diminution, thanks mainly to the prodigious proliferation and ever burgeoning of social platforms and the largely bored hoi polloi, bored by celebrities who have nothing to offer but the empty, irrelevant minutiae of their lives. The celebrities, like the emperor in the famous tale by Hans C. Anderson, have shown the full nakedness of their existence.
So, they’re out and about -celebrities of all sorts- and they are using anything and everything they can, including cartoons, as platforms (already well lit up by their adoring hoi polloi,) to stand upon it and yell at us, “hey, look here! Here I am! This way! I am a celebrity, listen to my rants, watch my outrages! I can still perform! I’m still a celebrity. Someone give me another contract!”
This includes the cartoonists themselves, of course, the tennis players, the hollow-headed authors like Rawlings whose credentials as moral and art arbiters are questionable if, quite arguably, non-existent.
This is a cartoon by a satirist and all satirical messages, from those by the very first ever and arguably the very best ever, Aristophanes, (c. 446 – c. 386 BC) whose world was no better nor worse than ours, if political chicanery is the measure, to Knight (born c. 1960s) all satirical messages are about exaggeration, exaggeration about everything from the shape of one’s nose to the shape of one’s words, to the colour of their budgie smugglers and the pitch of their Hanson-like squealing. Cartoonists are satirists and the identifying first sign of a satirist is exaggeration. No exaggeration, no satirist. It’s that simple! The other sign is that they condemn or criticise, or ridicule someone in a powerful position, be it in the political sphere or in the social one. From fathers of children to fathers of the Church or the State. Aristophanes depicted most brutally politicians Cleon among many, a Military man, Lamachus among many and philosophers, Socrates, among many. Most brutally!
We can like that sort of thing or we can hate it and we can express that love or hate by any means we can. Cartoonists do it by drawing cartoons.
Knight is a satirist and he did his satirical work, not only on Serena but on many other people, and did it in his own inimitable style which we all know and -as I said- either love or hate, laugh at or spat the dummy at. I can’t remember any such similar bellowing noise and social media turbulence generated by any of his other drawings, all of them satirical, all of them critical of someone or other.
Serena mucked up badly. Knight portrayed that.
Here we have a glowing emblem of an athlete, an icon of the best of them, rightly adored and admired by millions, acting like a spoilt child, “spitting her dummy,” as Knight put it. Something that does not fit that icon. Not at all! She happens to be black. Her opponent was an American-Japanese. Both were women, both non-anglos. The umpire was a non-anglo too and would most definitely have felt the excruciating pains of racism -as have I and anyone with even the slightest difference in the spelling of their name or the shape or colour of the skin on their face. No doubt, Carlos Ramos, the umpire would have heard the word “dago” as I have heard the word “wog” (among many other equally vile epithets) countless of times and felt its mind-numbing, stomach-churning jab often. He would know the excruciating hurt that racism can cause and he -as do I- would try his utmost to avoid delivering racism to anyone.
It also so happens that he is a male.
Would this ridiculously outraged, bigoted crowd, feel better or as bad if the incident were reversed and it was Osaka on the receiving end of the umpire’s penalties?
What the fuck are they on about?
Knight did the same thing many times before and is unlike to stop now -probably especially now and probably especially because he is now a celebrity. He sees the bullshit and he calls it for what it is and he draws a cartoon about it, satirising it. The bullshit, that is.
The Herald reminds us of these cartoons, also by Knight: Tony Abbott depicted as Hannibal Lecter with the caption “Banned: Big ears, cannibal mask,” and a topless Kim Jong-un with the words “Blocked: Belly fat, Asian stereotype.”
I can only conclude that all these “celebrities” from all over the world who have added their penny’s worth, thinking it was worth a pound, commented on this issue because they are desperate to be seen again and to be read again and to be listened to again and to be re-admired and, so as to jog our memory about their vacuous existence. They did so because they saw this incident as a platform, a stage where they can jump on and once again play the prima donna or the primo uomo.
The rest of us, the non-celebrities, we are either rational enough to see that there’s nothing to see here or not rational enough and so we behave like gangs of cowardly thugs who put the boot into some who’s down. A boot, by the way, which I and as I said the umpire, have felt and still feel now, at times, most painfully. Being kicked like that leaves great scars on you, scars that can flay not only your body but also your soul, scares that never leave you.
And, let us not forget that the umpire is a male who sits high up, above a couple of females -in the form of an idea as well as in that of reality- and it is therefore unequivocally and duty bound, in fact, ok for us to put our boot into him!
And that the cartoonist, of course, is a male also and also with a power mightier than a sword, and therefore it is also unequivocally and duty bound in fact, ok for us to put our boot into him as well!
The other reason is that, as a gang, we love to hate. We love to kick, we love to shout and show outrage. It’s an easy thing to do and, to some sick minds, it’s also an entertaining thing and something that gives us the power we have lost in almost all other areas of our lives. We’ve been made lesser in worth and dignity than overloaded donkeys, so we “kick.” We kick at anything and anyone, given half an opportunity. Knight’s cartoon has all the makings of such an opportunity for us to exert some of the power that’s been taken away from us.
Are we saying that the umpire is racially prejudiced against blacks but not against yellows? What sort of racial prejudice is that?
Are we saying that Knight has similar predilections to those of Carlos Ramos? WTF ARE we really saying? Whom are we accusing of what exactly and why? Based on what evidence?
Racial history of the world is brought into the court. Questions about the umpire’s integrity are raised or comments are made about Serena’s glowing sportsmanship, or about the umpire’s inconsistency of awarding penalties and Zeus knows what else, are all proffered to the judge as evidence that something is dreadfully wrong here! But none of these questions and comments and exhibits should even be heard or seen by the judge or us the jury.
They are all irrelevant to what had happened in that court on that day. They have nothing to do with the participants playing that particular game of tennis. They are simply hollow drums beating wildly! Loud shouts of wannabe celebrities. Loud shouts of hollow heads. Blistered tongues talking bullshit like our Prime Minister is so keen to do almost non-stop!
None of it should persuade the Goddess Justice, who should be blindfolded and unable to be persuaded by anything outside that single event on that single day in that single court.
Racism, misogynism, prejudice of any sort is disgusting. Utterly unacceptable to a society that wants to call itself civilised. So is bigotry, even if our erstwhile attorney general, George Brandis is otherwise convinced. According to him, we have the right to be bigots… but not be racist!
Well, Zeus be praised now it’s all made very clear!
Over sixty thousand years of Indigenous history of white torture has always and still is being treated with neglect, scorn and disdain but we’ve spent copious amounts of ink and intolerable decibels of noise arguing about the depiction by a cartoonist of a tantrum thrown by a tennis player. The hypocrisy is exasperating! The outrage is baffling.
Is it racism, sexism or is it cultural supremacism by the supreme supremacists we all know supremely well?
Serena has done wrong. The umpire penalised her.
END OF FUCKING STORY!
Henceforth it has become a boring ochlobabble!
Can we now shine our torch on the new champion, the new real sportsperson, the youth, the serene, the graceful and gracious, the true lover of tennis and not of vacuous notoriety, Naomi Osaka, please?
She beat the other player. She won the match. She did not yell or insult the umpire and -may the gods bless the young woman- she played by the rules, such a rare thing these days of spoilt sports and overpaid celebrities.
Yes, Naomi Osaka had won the match and the day. Three cheers for Naomi!