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Controversial Cartoon

Discussion in 'Fan Art' started by lowercasegods, Apr 6, 2005.

  1. lowercasegods

    lowercasegods Well-Known Member

    When the news broke back in 2002 that an HIV afflicted Muppet would appear in the South African production of Sesame Street, I was working as a staff cartoonist for a couple college newspapers in Michigan. A friend of mine who was editor on one of the papers told me he was going to write an editorial on the subject, and suggested I might do an editorial cartoon to accompany the piece. Being both a Muppet fan and one who walks on the liberal side of politics, I felt obligated to speak out against the U.S. politicians who felt that such a character had no place in children's programming, and were fearful that this character would find its way onto the U.S. production of Sesame Street. Ironically, my friend and editor took the opposite standpoint of my own, and wrote an editorial that opposed this character's existance on TV. It turned out to be a good point/counter point moment in the newspaper, where each side had its position equally presented. I've always been very proud of this cartoon, and thought it might be something worth sharing in this forum.

    And as a point of interest, the HIV afflicted character hadn't yet been named or shown publicly at the time I drew this cartoon, so I had to take liberties with the gender and design of the Muppet.

  2. Cantus Rock

    Cantus Rock Well-Known Member

    Do you have your friend's article for comparison? I'd definitely like to read it.

    As a Muppet fan who is strongly conservative in the American spectrum of politics, I feel that the subject is inappropriate for an American audience in the 1-5-year-old demographic. If we begin introducing such adult topics as AIDS into the programming, kids will become curious as to how AIDS is contracted. Then sex is brought in, and drug use (even if they are not addressed in Sesame Street specifically). Even in the modern world where kids are growing up extremely fast, I don't feel that these subjects are appropriate for such a young age group.

    I respect your point-of-view though. Nice comic also; definite skill there. :)
  3. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    I agree with Catus, but nice cartoonwork there.
  4. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I think that one of the lacking topics in the discussions of Kami (right?) is the fact that we have never seen the educational outline used to introduce the character and what they are exactly teaching kids.

    I do know that Oprah went down there and on her show exposed that adult men are molesting young girls because they think that doing so will rid them of their diseases.

    This is the article at MC:

    Points in the article from the Assoc. Press:
    Now, keep in mind, this character and show is designed specifically for a country that is much less educated than our own country, and I'm sure that the staffs of Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street Africa are doing everything in a way that is educational and positive. I doubt seriously that they're going to be making porn or infecting other characters on the show.

    I doubt seriously that we'll ever see a character like Kami hitting any other show, because I don't think any other country suffers 1 out of 9 people with HIV.

    Times like this I wish SS Spokespeople visited the boards to shed light.
  5. Cantus Rock

    Cantus Rock Well-Known Member

    Well my issue is not the broadcast of such a character in Africa. AIDS in Africa is more than a disease at this point; it has become a cultural factor in many African countries (obviously an extremely negative factor, but still an integrated aspect due to its massive spread). There, with the dangers of AIDS lurking virtually everywhere, teaching young children about the disease is necessary (just as a response to a national crisis like 9/11 is warrented). However, here in the states, the dynamics are obviously not the same as those in Africa. Since there is no necessity for such information to be presented to children here in the US, I don't see the need for it to be on Sesame Street (especially since Sesame Worshop announced that the target demographic for SS is so very young now).
  6. lowercasegods

    lowercasegods Well-Known Member

    I appreciate the attention given to my cartoon by everyone. But I also apologize for digging up a three year old topic. I hope I haven't stirred everyone up unnecessarily. More than anything I just wanted to share my Muppet-oriented artwork.
  7. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I understand your point, and agree (on a larger extent), but isn't this all still a moot point seeing as how Sesame Workshop never stated any intent on such a character in the States--ever? Only in Africa. The topic has no bearing on us here, except that it's an American based company who's producing something asked for in and by another country. Kami isn't going to be here on SS at all, so you, me, or anybody else needn't worry, right? And the US Congress getting involved in something going on in basically a 3rd world country shouldn't matter to any of us here, because it's not affecting us our our kids here at all. Or in any country outside of Africa, is it? Nope. So, me, you, and anybody else mentioning how it wouldn't work in the States are wasting our breath and typing time, because it's not going to happen in the States. At least, they (SW) never said it would.
  8. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    It's great artwork, by the way!

    And nobody's fighting here (I don't suppose anyhow). We're just discussing a topic. I don't think anybody's mad. Nobody's mad, are they? :concern: Nah. Nobody's mad.

    Great artwork, and what are you doing with your art now?
  9. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle Well-Known Member

    lowercasegods Graet cartoon, very well done, nice style as well,

    now to those of you who are fearing that a puppet like Kami is going to influence behavior regarding sex,and drug use, those topics are not discussed nor is how Kami's mother came to get AIDS, (she is a orphan), what is discussed is acceptance, that she is not some one to be feared or ostrocized , she has a a scary sickness, that few people understand, (here or in Africa)what she teaches is that although she is sick, she can still sing songs, and learn, and play games, but that she cant do certain things, and and that she still needs to be careful , and see doctors, and take special medicines, the whole point is to help a nation of people who dont understand the complexities of the Aids Virus, and give them a sort of primer, to help prevent the continued spread of rumors about what the virus i is and isnt, how it is spread thru sex and drug use are not discussed, it is a childrens program,


    and here is why i felt i should respond about this, kids in the US do get aids, it is terribly sad but it happens, and while out in the heartland of the US this may not be common, it does happen, and perhaps a character like this might help to enlighten young minds not about sex, or drugs, but that we need to be more understanding towards others, and jump to conclusions about what we think they will learn (especially when certain topics arnt even part of the lesson plan)it would also be a great way for parents to broach scary subjects like getting sick, and going to the hospital , and maybe make thier own children stop taking thier own health and well being for granted,
  10. Cantus Rock

    Cantus Rock Well-Known Member

    Ravage, what child do you know that would see a character with something as foreign and mysterious as a disease like HIV/AIDS and have absolutely no curiousity about how the disease came about? I understand the characters role on the show; however, the ripple is what you aren't considering. If it were the character were to come stateside, I would be fine with a "sick" character having a cancer, or perhaps mental retardation; diseases that are more prevelent and relivent to US youth. But to have a character with AIDS in a culture where the disease is not widespread enough to affect a vast number of Sesame Street's demographic is unneeded and would be, in my eyes, morally reprehensible.

    But like Foz said, its a moot point. You know how American politicians are though; what starts as a whisper ends up on the house floor if they have an opinion about it...:)
  11. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    What it reminds me of, and a prime time that such a character could have been used by Sesame Street in America (probably even before Cantus Rock was born!) was Ryan. Anybody remember him? He got AIDS through a blood transfusion if I remember correctly (it's been so long ago now that even I can't recall it--but, that's not unusual). He's dead now, but he was the center of national (maybe international) attention. Elton John and Michael Jackson both hopped into the scene to do nice things for him and help him out. I think it was also a turning point in Elton's career and he gave up his boozing and carousing during that time.
  12. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Well-Known Member

    My opinion on the subject is pointless, I've just become a huge fan of your work, Jay ever since you pointed it out to me a couple weeks ago, I love whatever you do. Yer' page is bookmarked under my favorites.
  13. Cantus Rock

    Cantus Rock Well-Known Member

    Hmm...yeah Foz that doesn't ring a bell with me...

    But, just because things are before my time doesn't mean I don't know about them, generally. I am a student of the world, mind you. ;)
  14. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    Ryan White was born in 1971 with hemophophilia, a blood disorder that means his blood did not clot. Ryan received IVs of something called Factor VIII twice a week. Factor VIII contained the clotting agents he was missing but it was made from blood. In the 70s and early 80s we were just beginning to become aware of AIDS and there was no testing of blood donations or blood products.

    In December of 1984 Ryan had surgery due to pneumonia and doctors realized he had AIDS. He was given 6 months to live.

    Ryan was determined to go on with a normal life. He tried to go to school but the school tried to kick him out. After a lot of fighting he was allowed to return to school but faced continuous discrimination. He was not allowed to use the regular cafeteria flatware. He was not allowed to use the same bathrooms or water fountains as the other students. Kids vandilized his locker. The rest of his community was no better. His mother was labeled an unfit mother. Vicious lies were spread about him. After several yeas of struggling to educate their community and find acceptance, his family moved to a town more willing to learn about AIDS.

    In the new town he continued his life and continued to fight AIDS discrimination. ABC made a TV movie about him called The Ryan White Story. He testified before the President's Commission on AIDS. (you can read a poorly transcribed copy of his testimony here:

    Federal legislation helping with the health care costs of AIDS was named after him (The Ryan White CARE Act) because his "courageous struggle with HIV/AIDS and against AIDS-related discrimination helped educate the nation."

    Ryan White died in 1990.

    Kami isn't coming to the US and these discussions got out of hand when she was first announced for the South African SST and Congress failed to understand the difference between South African SST (Takalani Sesame) and American SST. Please keep in mind that this is a very sensitive subject with strong feelings on all sides.

    Personally, I find it very sad that 15 years after his death we are still fighting the same battles about AIDS education and the lack there of.
  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Agreement! Not saying through SS, but there does need to be better education.

    Jay, start another thread which introduces your comic art website rather than one in particular that has a subject matter to it. I think the subject of the comic strip became the topic of the thread by accident.

    However, you should be proud of this comic strip in particular. As Pres. of the Mid-South Cartoonists Association, I would say such a comic strip (whether or not it's an editorial comic strip) that generates this much conversation (and/or controversey as it might be implied) is a comic strip which definitely has done it's job!! Way to go! :excited: Pat yourself on the back, man.
  16. lowercasegods

    lowercasegods Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Fozzie Bear. I'll follow your advice.
  17. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I made a mention of your artwork last night at the Mid-South Cartoonists Association dinner meeting. I didn't take a link, though. Get some folks in your direction.
  18. lowercasegods

    lowercasegods Well-Known Member

    Wow! Thanks for the professional shout out, Fozzie Bear (ironically, my pen name has been The Foz since the sixth grade). You're the man...er...bear!
  19. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Right on!

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