Barry Dredze
3 min readAug 16, 2022
An Arizona resident protests at the Maricopa County Elections Dept. in Phoenix on Nov. 20, 2020. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Death to Cartoonland!

Now, how do we kill it? Between deepfakes and willful ignorance, it won’t be very long until we will no longer be able to distinguish genuine electronic news gathering images from propaganda.

We already live in an infantilized culture, constantly feeding us cheap tripe to consume at our leisure and for our cultural sustenance, and to produce landfills on our landscape and garbage islands out at sea.

Cultural change hardly ever keeps up with political change — and vice versa. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the two. The competition over cultural legitimacy and civil rights between the varied communities that make up our neighborhoods, cities, counties, states, regions and the nation remains intense, despite the fact that there is plenty of legitimacy to go around. E Pluribus Unum and so on.

What the conservative parts of our experimental democratic republic seems to find the hardest thing to let go of is its put-down culture. The fallacy of civil rights as a non-renewable resource in our culture creates an environment where respect is not easy to come by — not at face value, anyway. It is like one’s enumerated civil rights are somehow diminished when those we were once free to put down as weirdos are allowed equal status in the light of those same enumerated rights. For, to bestow respect at face value requires an objective truth that the way one lives their life is normal. There is much grumbling across the land over what those who proudly regard themselves as normal folks see as a threat from those who were once normally regarded as freaks and weirdos and perverts. And gods bless them, because we might not have had such colorful countercultural histories with which to compare the traditional narratives that pass for official histories without them. Bravo for mixed blessings. But how many Selmas and Chicago 7s and Stonewalls and Charlottesvilles do we need before E Pluribus Unum means something more than a trivia question?

The duality of good and evil is fine framing for comic book stories. There are not many shades of grey between the traditional heroes and villains in the DC and Marvel universes. It is a rite of passage to go from the comic books to Pro Wrestling, but it has become way too short of a step from there to politics.

Barry Dredze

Just another mortal, tweaking my cognitive map on the fly.