Sometimes a picture is worth a 1000 words. Nova Scotia artist Virve Whiteway created this wonderfully intricate editorial cartoon on the issues raised by Jacob Fillmore and the response by Lands and Forestry minister Chuck Porter.
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I care a great deal about the issues raised by this cartoon, and I enjoy the intricacy of it. What I don’t like at all is the use it makes of Minister Chuck Porter’s weight. For some reason people still feel entitled to treat fat people with scorn and contempt. This cartoon equates a fat person with one who is personally consuming too much, thereby starving others. Perhaps once the ‘fat cats’ were really fat but now it is the poor, Indigenous people, racialized minorities, LGBTQ2 people who are most at risk for obesity. The seriously wealthy, who do tend to consume far more of the world’s resources, are expensively thin. I doubt the artist or those who have posted this cartoon really thought about the use the cartoon makes of an outmoded stereotype but please, think about it now. Fat shaming is not okay and that is what is happening here.
I humbly apologize, if my cartoon offended anybody other than the intended target. It is necessary to set the record straight as I refuse to be labelled a “fat shamer”.
I, for one, have extra pounds on myself and still manage to feel comfortable being the person who I am. I am not ashamed of my weight and I don’t think anyone should be.
As a cartoonist, I use my artistic license to blow things out of proportion. If Mr. Porter had a prominent nose, I would draw it five times bigger. Cartoonists of the world, myself included, had a field day with Donald Trump. He was always portrayed being overweight, but that was not an insult towards all overweight people of the world. Same thing with my portrayal of Mr. Porter. No true cartoonist would ever draw all people young and beautiful.
It was my intention to show an uncaring, insensitive politician, himself living in comfort and luxury. And his actions causing the starvation and suffering of innumerable living beings. He didn’t even care that a young person, trying to stop clearcutting, was on hunger strike for over three weeks. That’s all.
This is a political cartoon. The Honorable Minister for Lands and Forestry appears, as do all political caricatures in all political cartoons ever made, not primarily as their private selves, but as representatives of their publicly-held and publicly-responsible offices of power.
Centuries of political cartooning of the finest stripe have used, to telling effect, the trope of the starving vs the fat. This is part of the very vocabulary of the art: by definition, in a political cartoon, fatness equals power.
Moreover, in contrast to the ubiquitous “fat cat” political cartoons we see every day in the big dailies, the particular political issue that inspired this cartoon is, at its very core, all about food. Firstly, the protester Mr Fillmore was actually on a hunger strike; and secondly, the underlying issue is the wildlife that is dying out because the ravaged habitat actually cannot provide enough food for their sustenance.
Note that the minister is being shamed for WHAT it is that he is eating to make him fat (i.e. powerful). If the cartoonist in this instance had been interested in making a personal attack on who was doing the eating, instead of an attack on his actions as a wielder of political power in the service of larger (and short-sighted) financial interests, surely the minister would not have been depicted as eating generic Moose “Steak”. Instead, he could have been shown eating “Chuck Roast” and “Porterhouse Steak”.
Fat shaming is bad but, I dare say, that would have been the last interpretation or connotation I would have seen in this cartoon. I’m one of those people who sees beauty in fat as do many cultures world-wide.
Cartoonists always use hyperbole and exaggeration on physical attributes. That’s usually the funny part I.e. Steven Harper’s Pinnochio nose.
This is a hard-hitting shot at this minister’s disgraceful environmental record.