Post-'South Park': Cartoonist retreats from 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!' [UPDATED]
NOTE: The original post was published 1 a.m. April 25.
THE ORIGINAL CARTOON:
(courtesy of Molly Norris)
Stop the campaign, she wants to get off.
The Seattle artist whose anti-censorship cartoon has helped spawn "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" says she wants no part of the May 20 event, which is gaining momentum online
"I made a cartoon that went viral but [this campaign] isn't really my thing," cartoonist Molly Norris tells Comic Riffs, characterizing her cartoon as merely a personal response to Comedy Central's censorship of a "South Park" episode last week. "Other folks have taken it over" -- an appropriation she says she is distancing herself from.
Postings on the Islamic website RevolutionMuslim.com led to Comedy Central's editing last week of a "South Park" speech about fear and intimidation, the show's creators have said. That network censorship has spawned another cartoon event: Everybody Draw Muhammad Day -- a campaign that might not be so easily quieted.
A posterlike cartoon titled "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" has been posted on the blogs of such commentators as Dan Savage to Andrew Sullivan. Savage tells Comic Riffs he published the cartoon on his blog late last week after it was e-mailed to him.
The growing campaign now includes a Facebook page titled Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. On Saturday night, the page had fewer than 1,500 "confirmed guests"; as of Monday morning (ET), the page was nearing 6,000 signed-up guests.
The creator of the page, Jon Wellington, tells Comic Riffs: "I created a Facebook event because that's an easy way to remind myself of upcoming events, and I thought it might serve that purpose for others too."
Adds Wellington: "I am not a cartoonist, and I loved [Norris's] creative approach to the whole thing -- whimsical and nonjudgmental."
The wall on Wellington's page has become an ongoing forum-of-sorts about the controversy. Some posts on the wall are from vocal supporters of Muhammad; other posts are purely anti-religion; and other posts say the campaign, at its heart, is all about the First Amendment and the defense of free speech.
As for the event itself, Wellington calls it "a bit of a phenomenon" -- one, of course, that he himself has helped grow in popularity. (In response, there is also a "Ban Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" Facebook page that has more than 800 members.)
The text of Norris's cartoon says, in part, that an Everybody Draw Muhammad day would "water down the pool of targets" for Islamic terrorists.
In a radio interview Friday with KIRO's Dave Ross, Norris cited that text about "the pool of targets" and also said it's a cartoonist's job to be "non-PC."
In that interview, Norris said of the Facebook campaign: "Dare me, I'll pursue it." A day later, however, she told Comic Riffs she had a change of heart, saying the campaign had grown far larger than she intended and that her cartoon was being appropriated in ways that were beyond her control.
Norris tells Comic Riffs she is accustomed to a quieter life as an artist. Her Seattle-based work includes the regular "Everyone's a Critic" cartoon for City Arts magazine.
Now, says Norris -- who has called laughter a form of prayer -- the online campaign is too large for her comfort. On her page MollyNorris.com, the cartoonist has posted a follow-up cartoon of 10 word balloons: one reads, "I have hit some kind of gigantic nerve!"; another says, "I am so freaked out that I am not even drinking my regular 4 pots of coffee per day!"; and a third reads, "I am a coward. I have backed off of being associated with any group of her cause."
Norris also cites the rise of a nonexistent group. The text of her original cartoon jokes that the day is "sponsored by Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor or CACAH (pronounced ca-ca)." Now, the site CACAH.org is encouraging submissions of protest art.
Indeed, some artists aren't waiting till May 20 to generate their own Muhammad images, which range from the straight-forward to the angry to the overtly scatalogical. Any depiction of Muhammad is considered blasphemous by some Muslims.
Elsewhere, Gawker quotes Younus Abdullah Mohammed of Revolution Muslim as saying that he felt media coverage of the controversy has been unfair: "It was typical of the mainstream media. It was senseless -- they never cover any of the other crimes against Islam we write about."
The Revolution Muslim representative also tells Gawker that most Americans are "dumbed down, stupid and pathetic. They're worried more about missing their favourite TV show than they are about the world."
Regarding "South Park," specifically, the TV show -- by Matt Stone and Trey Parker -- depicted Muhammad nearly a decade ago, sparking relatively little uproar. In the wake of the Danish "Muhammad cartoon" controversy that has simmered for five years, however, the show's depictions of Muhammad this month (the religious leader appears in a bear suit) have received far more attention -- particularly since Comedy Central last week reportedly edited a 35-second speech about intimidation and fear.
Norris's original cartoon is "dedicated" to Stone and Parker.
As for the larger campaign, Norris says simply: "I just want to go back to my quiet life."
| April 26, 2010; 9:15 AM ET
Categories: The Political Cartoon | Tags: Andrew Sullivan, Comedy Central, Dan Savage, Islam, Matt Stone, Molly Norris, Muhammad, Trey Parker
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