Cartoons & Politics

How do you make politics interesting? The same way you make anything interesting…in cartoon format! A cartoon in the form of Mr. Clean sold cleaning products to millions of housewives. Cartoons allegedly also made cigarettes more appealing to young people thanks to Joe Camel (R.I.P. Joe). And cartoons introduced me to the three branches of government…thank you, Schoolhouse Rock!

Now it’s 2007, and the game has not changed one bit. Nobody gets the message – unless it’s entertaining, that is – and what’s more entertaining than cartoons?

This past week I had the honor of watching The Simpson’s Movie as well as youtube after youtube video of political jokes followed by serious points. I even relived my childhood by sitting through that captivating Schoolhouse Rock video again. But to the lonely bill on Capitol Hill’s dismay, I think I’ve found a new favorite political cartoon. Only this one doesn’t just take <em>me</em> back to my younger days, it takes my mom back too.

The website combines the Super Friends cartoon that my mother used to watch in the 70s with the politicians of today. George Bush is the evil Petroman, who is supported by his gang of goons. Senator Barack Obama is Captain United, leader of the good guys, who works for the betterment of mankind along with his own colleagues. Each character has his or her own identity, complete with story lines that match real life issues and weaknesses. For example, Hillary “Reform Girl” Clinton’s weaknesses are tobacco and cigars – oh, and she also avoids interns at all cost. As 9 Lives, Condoleezza Rice must live with the fact that she inspires nothing but mistrust between her and her comrades.

The comic is very well thought through and is supported by a very entertaining trailer – it keeps you waiting for the next clip in the series. The cartoon is one of many advertisements made by Viral Medium, a company that has done work for Excedrin and Goodyear, producing digitally animated combinations of 2D and 3D work that catches a viewer’s eye.

To think, all we have to do is animate real life things and then maybe people will pay attention. Not just kids, but ALL people. After all, I saw both The Simpsons Movie and Ratatouille in a theater full of adults. I am a grown person, fully aware of the problems of today’s world, and I admit: I watched Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, and the only part of the movie I remember is the animation of the stranded polar bear desperately floating on a depleting iceberg as the camera zoomed out.

And yeah, it touched me.


Dru Harshaw, Oakland, California


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