Monkeys and Trolls

February 19, 2009

By request, a little something about the New York Post chimp (which is of course an ape not a monkey but the cartoonist must not have known that) cartoon.

Click here
for info on the cat story I mentioned...I don't recommend watching the actual video but the story does have a happy endinf.

(recorded on Wednesday, hence usage of the word "today.")

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Posted by jsmooth995 at February 19, 2009 8:29 PM

I agree.
We shouldnt waste time on this issue.
The man [artist] was wrong, humorous or not.

Posted by: cedes at February 19, 2009 8:35 PM

The boycott is indeed justified since the rag is owned by Fox's Rupert Murdoch.

Until Murdoch cleans house at the rag and flushes the offenders, the repercussions and consequences flow uphill to the penthouse itself!

Posted by: Roney Smith at February 19, 2009 8:49 PM

This was about PELOSI and NOT Obama. Pelosi and congress WROTE the stimulus bill, not Obama. Please, let's not make something out of nothing. The comic is saying that a bunch of monkeys in congress are writing law, not that Obama is a monkey.

Posted by: source at February 19, 2009 8:59 PM

+1.. Anybody that wants to boycott The Post shouldn't have been buying it in the first place.

The Post has been the LEAST respected major newspaper in New York City, like forever. It's amazing that people are even surprised.

Next thing you know, they'll want to boycott actual tabloids.

Posted by: bill c. at February 19, 2009 9:04 PM

damn, thank you for that comment, source. the LEGISLATIVE (congress) branch, not the executive branch (president) writes bills. if the cartoon still doesn't make sense look at it like this:

congress = infinite monkey theory
monkey shot by police = travis the chimp that just got shot this week FOR REAL

ny post cartoon = police shooting lawmaker for coming up w/ that dumbass bill.

Posted by: jaz d at February 19, 2009 9:13 PM

I'm well aware of the cartoon's ostensible premise, and of who technically wrote the bill. None of that makes this Epic Fail joke any better, nor does it make the Obama allusion any less blatant.

This sort of satire functions on broad symbolic meanings, not literal interpretations.. if you were going to be strictly literal than the "infinite monkey" saying would not apply either, since a chimp is not a monkey. If you allow imprecise symbolism for that part, it's no different to acknowledge the imprecise but obvious symbolism that evokes Obama.

Posted by: Jay Smooth at February 19, 2009 9:30 PM

Thanks Jay. This is exactly what I think.

However, something you and others may not understand, lot's of people DON'T live in NYC (or in the area). They don't have any idea how valuable or p.o.s. the New York Post is.

I think that's why is making the rounds all over.

Kinda like this racist guy:

That's kind of stuff may just be overlooked or avoided in NYC, but it upset many who aren't so jaded in obscenities.

Posted by: Derek W at February 19, 2009 9:47 PM

NYT - $1.00
Daily News - $0.50
NY Post - $0.25
AMNews and Metro - Free

My theory on NY newspapers? You get what you pay for. (Though, to be honest, you do get ripped off a bit if you buy the Post.)

Good commentary as always, Jay.

Posted by: Amy at February 19, 2009 10:08 PM

the infinite monkey theory IS a "broad symbolic meaning" that's why it works in the cartoon, but satire also requires you to MOMENTARILY interpret it literally b/c that's where the humor comes in. example:

but you're right, they should have called it infinite chimp theory b/c everytime they show a visual of it it's always a chimp & not a monkey. see: their bad.

but jay, what i find offensive is people who keep pushing the racist card. if you know the premise, then why don't you educate the people then on what it really is? don't let them go around thinking this is a "racist" cartoon when it's not. i didn't grow up w/ the black people/monkey reference so i didn't see obama allusion, but now people are telling me that it's racist, end of story. when does it stop? when will people leave the past in the past? nobody thinks the world is flat or christopher columbus discovered america anymore, so can we stop believing that people are still comparing blacks to monkeys?

& even if it was racist, if you give people another point of reference then they wouldn't go around w/ their emotions all riled up for nothing. they can start to liberate themselves from the past. you don't kill racism by perpetuating its ugliness...especially when it's not there to begin w/.

Posted by: jaz d at February 19, 2009 10:39 PM

p.s. i think this is my first time commenting but i've been subscribed for a minute now. just wanted to say i love your stuff, your definitely a voice that needs to be heard. thanks.


Posted by: jaz d at February 19, 2009 10:44 PM

"the infinite monkey theory IS a "broad symbolic meaning" that's why it works in the cartoon, but satire also requires you to MOMENTARILY interpret it literally b/c that's where the humor comes in"

But that's the point, for this cartoon (or most any satire) to make any sense you have be very selective in when and where you acknowledge the details of its literal context, and when you ignore them.. and this one only makes sense if you ignore pretty much ALL of the actual chimp story, since the chimp living with some woman and then going crazy and attacking her friend and then getting shot by cops is a whole bunch of detail that bears no relation to story of the stimulus. Which is why it's such a poor, sloppy joke..

But my point is, if you have to assume that all those other pieces of literal context don't count, in order to make the joke work, it's no great leap to also assume that all the literal details of the stimulus story don't apply either. So, singling out that one literal detail "technically he didn't WRITE the stimulus" really doesn't help it much. There was subjectivity as to whether to take that part literally just as there was with the dozens of other details you had to pick and choose from in order to make sense of it.

Again, like I said in the video my first reaction was being offended that he made light of the chimp story itself, more than the racial angle. But I don't think it's outlandish at all for many others to take that from it, and it was negligent (at best) of the Post not to recognize those connotations. Especially when you see the comic in its original placement in the newspaper, if i'm not mistaken it was right next to a full page photo of Obama signing the stimulus papers, complete with headlines referring to it as his bill.

So I didn't seek to refute the race issue because I don't think it is refutable, I think it's a legitimate complaint. It may have been a failure of negligence, but that's still a FAIL. And even without the race baggage it's just a terrible cartoon, from someone with a long history of crappy and offensive cartoons, as documented on Gawker.

The Columbus analogy is inapt IMO because racism, even in much more overt forms than whatever happened here, DOES still exist today.. and the specific issue in this case, people comparing blacks to monkeys, DOES happen all the time today. I see it on online almost daily (and not just on 4chan either!)

And please note that according to latest reports even Rupert Murdoch shares my opinion, and was livid about the comic. :)

Posted by: Jay Smooth at February 19, 2009 11:43 PM

I find it interesting that your initial reaction to the cartoon, was on some 'oh poor chimp...' Is that how desensitized we have become to the habitual (racist) line stepping of the NY Post, New Yorker, etc.?
And do you REALLY feel bad for the chimp (monkey, orangutan, w/e) Jay?
Because I feel bad for the lady who had both her hands bitten off + has to get her face reconstructed while fighting for her life! She's the victim in that situation, not that lady or the chimp (I mean the chimp went chimp crazy which is a normal occurrence for a chimp).
Lastly, I think the owner should be put in prison for reckless endangerment or some sh*t.

I'm sorry I went on a bit of a tirade above but I was mauled by 3 dogs when i was 11 (I am a pet owner twice over btw) and comments like the 1 you made irk me a bit.
Even though we dont entirely agree on this topic, I enjoy your perspective on hip hop-politics. Tis good to see you vlogging again sir. : )

Posted by: Leena at February 20, 2009 12:49 AM

Trolls!! Hahaa!!

Posted by: Gen at February 20, 2009 1:46 AM

LOL I didn't say "oh poor chimp".. this probably would've been clearer without the jokes but I did mention the owner and her friend in the explanation, and meant that it was a tragedy all around, not just for the chimp. Certainly nothing else compares to how the attack victim's life is forever changed, but I don't think seeing that precludes also feeling the overall tragedy of the situation, and the owner's culpability and probable craziness just makes it all even sadder to me

Posted by: Jay Smooth at February 20, 2009 2:45 AM

Funny thing is Jay..

one of the first things i thought about when i first heard about this was one of your earlier posts (which u refernced urself in this vid) about judging the action as, in this case potentially, racist as opposed to judging the person as such. words to live by.

The hub bub around this situation reeks of oppurtunism and is degrading in and of itself

Posted by: anons at February 20, 2009 3:02 AM

how is that racist when obama and oprah together are whiter than eminem in winter? i think you might be racist since you still classify people by their skin color.

Posted by: L1A at February 20, 2009 4:49 AM

that woman's "companion" that she loved so much was given xanax when it was acting "funny" around her friend. She drugged the monkey, thats why it went nuts.

About the story though, an editor should be fired. Racism is a sensitive topic not to mention animal cruelty isn't even a little bit funny.

All that aside though, thanks for not taking the common "HOLY HELL THIS DUDE IS A RACIST ASS RACIST" approach everyone else is and pointing out the fact they are also making light of animal cruelty. Overall the comic was a BAD IDEA, and maybe the cartoonist had a weird, dry sense of humor and didnt make the "monkey" connection... but whoever the editor is that let this through, should be fired.

I'd like to say again however, she drugged the monkey.

Posted by: JMack at February 20, 2009 10:14 AM

You know, I can't even be upset about this. Is this all the opposition has in their arsenal, resorting to old, archaic notions of racism to attack a man that is their better in almost every respect?

I think these sort of immature, limited messages simply reveal them for who they are: dinosaurs who don't see the comet coming.

President Obama has bested them intellectually and morally and they have no other recourse but to expose themselves as the pathetic creatures that they are.

And now, ironically, the whole world can see them make monkeys out of themselves.

Posted by: Son of Baldwin at February 20, 2009 12:47 PM

seriously, you stay a voice of reason in a world of madness! thanks for the video!

Posted by: has at February 20, 2009 1:18 PM

I honestly don't know whether the cartoon monkey represents Congress or the President.
I'm leaning towards Congress because they essentially passed the bill through. And President Obama signed it into law. But who cares is right.
The Post is the weakest link in the New York press. It's always gossipy, sensationalist tabloid journalism. And calling it journalism is giving it too much credibility. They don't even print The Jumble in the funny pages.

Posted by: Jay B at February 20, 2009 9:44 PM

Rocked as usual, jay. Keep it up. (claps)

Posted by: Namahottie at February 20, 2009 10:46 PM

To the racist apologists who are ignoring the history of using a monkey to represent black people, I have two things to say:

First of all, did you listen to the video? It doesn't matter what the intentions were. It was a racist cartoon, even if it wasn't obviously intended to be racist. (In my opinion, not only was it obviously racially intended, but the cartoon is a thinly veiled suggestion that Obama should be assassinated).

Secondly, this cartoonist DOES consider Obama to be the author of the stimulus package.

Or, are you suggesting this was supposed to me Pelosi, too?


Posted by: MomTFH at February 21, 2009 12:07 AM

I HAVE to say this: I cannot believe that people are still buying into the myth that we live in a post-racial world. Does anybody honestly think that white supremacists or non-white supremacist racists give a fuck that someone "acts" white? I'd venture to say, probably not. Oprah Winfrey and President Obama may have a lot of clout today but it doesn't mean they haven't encountered their lot of racism on the way to the top. And it doesn't mean that they don't receive daily hate mail on the basis of their skin color.

It's naive to think that people aren't still classified by their skin color. It's like saying gender barriers don't exist anymore. Wake up. Recognizing racism isn't perpetuating it, it's facing the truth. You can't just pretend shit isn't there and expect it to go away.

/End rant.

Posted by: Andrea at February 21, 2009 10:51 PM

I first took it as a reference to the infinite monkeys theorem, and second as a 'government is made of stupid monkeys comment.' I didn't know about the woman and the pet monkey story. But nonetheless, the 'President Obama is a chimp because he's black' message is just a little too obvious to innocently overlook.

Occasionally people are sensitive to racial dynamics I'm unaware of, and then it's harder to judge whether some piece of art or writing is racist or if the reader is extrapolating too far. But this is for sure not one of those cases. For the NYP to ignore or condone the obvious blacks-monkeys allusion is racist because they are either (a) approving of it or (b) evading responsibility for propagating racial oppression.

Racism does not have to be about the intent of the actor, but the effect on the listener and the injury to the racial victim. The black child who gets called a monkey by white classmates and then sees this comic doesn't care what the artist thought. The message is clear.

Posted by: Lena at February 22, 2009 7:48 PM


Posted by: GARY at February 22, 2009 10:58 PM


Posted by: GARY at February 22, 2009 11:04 PM

Gary - almost, but the joke is not about trigger-happy cops, it's about the stimulus package. The message is much more of a 'got what it deserved' tone than a point about police violence. If it was about police violence, fiscal policy wouldn't be the gimmick.

Posted by: Lena at February 23, 2009 1:07 AM


"4chan’s /b/ is the closest thing the internet has to a gang, and though their normal topics of conversation involve graphic violence and disturbing sex feats, they do in fact ****ing love cats"

oh man... thats one hell of a quote right there

anyway great vid

jus wanted to say i thought it was funny that the google news headline i saw today said "rupert murdoc apologizes for 'racist' cartoon"

racist being in quotes... pfffffffffft who are they trying to kid

Posted by: colin at February 24, 2009 6:47 PM

Totally off topic, I love it when your cat makes cameo appearances. *e-scritches the kitty*

Posted by: Xavi at March 17, 2009 9:12 PM

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