July 31, 2006

When hyperbole goes down a wrong path: See panel #4. more inside . . .

posted by Uncle Toby to culture at 11:36 AM - 18 comments

I'm not trying to race-bait the good people of SpoFi. Neither am I suggesting that anyone goes to Tank McNamara for anything like insight on the role of race in sport. The cartoonists were obviously drawing a, well, cartoonish picture of clashing generations and cultures in baseball. BUT, it is appalling, no?

posted by Uncle Toby at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2006

It is appalling ... no. You said it yourself. The "gag" is ham-handed and a little awkward, true, but hey, it's Tank McNamara. I didn't even realize that strip was still running. For actual societal insight in the funny papers, there are other way (way, way, way*) wittier strips out there, many of which are rather more popular these days than ole Tank. (Even this is funnier and it's sports-related, and that's a low bar to clear.) And for divisive idiotic offensiveness, well, this is small potatoes compared to the latest Mallard Fillmore or B.C.. Stupid? Sure. Stupider than even the rest of this particular strip? I can't say that it is. *I found those things without thinking. I don't agree with all of their viewpoints, but they do all have spasms of occasional wit. Also, I have no doubt there are many more strips that maybe are even somewhat or completely sports-focused that are worth the occasional read.

posted by chicobangs at 12:14 PM on July 31, 2006

Hell, even Gil Thorpe is a better place to go for societal insight. HA!

posted by NoMich at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2006

So a picture of a black guy pulling gun on the diamond strikes you as only "a little awkward" as a comic-strip gag? And no stupider than gags about text messaging? And less bad because the strip is, generally, so unfunny and unpopular? Yep, there are both better and worse comics out there. Some, like Mallard Fillmore and B.C., go out of their way to talk about the world in inflammatory terms. That's their m.o. Others give us little narratives that sometimes touch on big issues with wit and a sense of scale. (I think Frazz is good at that, but ymmv.) I'm not a lifelong, avid Tank reader--this strip just kind of jumped out at me Sunday morning--so I don't know if it often takes up such topics and deploys such imagery. It just seemed worth noting that a sports-themed comic would think a black athlete pulling a gun is an acceptable way to exaggerate a cultural disconnect.

posted by Uncle Toby at 01:16 PM on July 31, 2006

I think you might be reading a bit too much into Tank. It's basically like being seated next to a very old man on a cross-country bus. Annoying, but not offensive. I was never clear on why it was the highlight of Spenser's (of the Robert B. Parker books) day.

posted by yerfatma at 01:52 PM on July 31, 2006

Sorry, UT, I didn't mean to poo-poo what you found as demeaning. I was trying to say pretty much what yerfatma just said. And yeah, it was a really stupid thing for him to draw, but the comic sucks arse anyway and that's why I was so lighthearted with my first comment.

posted by NoMich at 02:06 PM on July 31, 2006

I actually read Tank as part of My Yahoo and sometimes its funny and like most strips sometimes it just misses the mark. I do feel the need to point out that when we truly live in a color-blind society people will stop pointing out things like this. We live in such a P.C. world that if you want to make a joke about lack of communication skills and reference gang signs than you have to draw pictures of Asians or perhaps white guys and then you can make your point without being a racist. Maybe the writer is racist and maybe not but if I was his editor or agent then I would be more concerned that he isn't funny.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 02:47 PM on July 31, 2006

kyrilmitch, et.al : Would the panel have been more funny, less funny, or the same if the cartoonist has not used a racial stereotype?

posted by ?! at 03:14 PM on July 31, 2006

Oh! Tank is supposed to be funny?

posted by jerseygirl at 03:18 PM on July 31, 2006

I don't in particular find racially charged material to be funny. It could have been more funny if the writers had put more thought into their punchline before they went to press (I went back to the byline and it turns out their are two writers).

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 05:19 PM on July 31, 2006

Tank is supposed to be funny? That's why the Globe puts it in its own special place. With the boxscores. Also, I just don't see it. It's a black player with a gun. Could have been a white player. The rest of the players are white. They're fighting due to gang signs as well.

posted by yerfatma at 06:21 PM on July 31, 2006

Mountain, molehill...molehill, mountain. Personally, I think you gotta be looking for something to be offended by if this gets your goat.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 06:58 AM on August 01, 2006

No, the only anger in the strip is by the black player who has pulled a gun and is holding it "movie gangsta" style. The white player is holding him back. Bill Hinds, the artist for the strip, could have drawn the player as white. I doubt the writer included race in his script. Why didn't Hinds draw a white player? Most likely because he automatically assumed "gang" equals "black." Or he assumed his audience would. Or it was deliberate. It is easy for some not to be offended when it isn't their goat being yanked.

posted by ?! at 09:11 AM on August 01, 2006

Most likely because he automatically assumed "gang" equals "black." Actually, I think of "gang signs" as "black" (from the various movie/tv/music video references), but "gang" as almost any race (Triads, Mafia, Crips, skinheads).

posted by grum@work at 11:14 AM on August 01, 2006


posted by yerfatma at 12:04 PM on August 01, 2006

Madduxes? The idea that Maddux is running around loose in your town should be enough to keep you inside. The concept of a GANG of Madduxes is one that most sane people wouldn't consider without the chance of going batshit insane from fear.

posted by grum@work at 12:26 PM on August 01, 2006

I'm just glad the guy with the gun isn't MS-13, or they'd all be dead.

posted by Hugh Janus at 08:15 AM on August 02, 2006

Notice the coach is white, at least Tank got that part right. Seriously though, wouldn't it have been even more subtably offensive if Tank simply drew all the players as White?

posted by LostInDaJungle at 10:20 AM on August 02, 2006

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