Liberty Leading the People

Liberty Leading the People

I spent several weeks trying to come up with something good on the protests against autocratic, Western-supported President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Most other cartoonists seemed to be falling on cliches like the pyramids and the Sphinx without making very good use of them, and I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to let the topic continue rolling around in my brain rather than rushing out something as unimpressive.

After awhile, I remembered the painting Liberty Leading the People, by French Romantic artist Eugene Delacroix, and thought that it’d adapt well to the modern subject matter, since there seemed to be some parallels between the French revolutions of the 18th/19th centuries, and the protests happening throughout the Middle East today.

The revolutionaries in the original painting are carrying guns and swords, but since social networking sites seem to have been one of the main weapons utilized by people in Egypt, I replaced them in my cartoon with smartphones. As an acquaintance of mine observed, this also made it easy to tie in Obama’s Blackberry.

I was a little uncertain whether I should include the nudity from the original painting, since it seemed like it might be inappropriate for the region, but I ultimately decided to leave that detail as it was, because I recognized how it symbolized freedom arising from destructive skirmishes, and I didn’t want to undermine or contradict that message.

Edit:
Turns out my friend Roxanne had the same idea as I did. Take a look at her approach here.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 12th, 2011 at 6:25 pm and is filed under Cartoons & Commentary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Liberty Leading the People”

By » generatrix (February 13th, 2011 at 8:25 am)

Absolutely amazing. The nudity seemed a touch overdone in the original uncoloured version, but with the colour in there it’s much more like the painting’s subtlety, and not distracting at all. The motion of the flag is particularly well done.

Had we gotten more involved, the US would have co-opted the Egyptian people’s revolution as our own. Not only would that be stealing their transcendent moment, but it would serve to de-legitimize it globally, leaving a hollow farce that would have failed.

Had the west/US been less involved, particularly in terms of media coverage and political/financial pressure to proceed without violence, the regime would likely have been emboldened to massacre the protesters early and often.

So precisely, what, cartoonist, would you have done differently?

Yeah, cartoonist, would you have done differently?

Would you have cartooned yourself a cartoony cartoon?

>Had we gotten more involved, the US would have co-opted the Egyptian people’s revolution as our own. Not only would that be stealing their transcendent moment, but it would serve to de-legitimize it globally, leaving a hollow farce that would have failed.

If Deep had “done things differently”, he probably wouldn’t have co-opted the revolution.
America only has a reputation as a belligerent imperialist because she engages in imperialism. In the fantasy world of could-have-been, America might not do so.

I’ve seen some criticism in the press about how little social networking sites really affected the protests, and how some media has overemphasized their impact.

Apart from that, I find the message about Americans caring more about some game to be very accurate, and I also hope the situation in Egypt doesn’t become as bloody as the French Revolution became.

[...] UPDATE 3: My friend Terrence also went with Delacroix for his Egypt cartoon, albeit taking it in a slightly different direction. Great minds, etc. etc. Check it out! [...]

By » LagomorphMan (February 22nd, 2011 at 7:10 pm)

Not so much a criticism, but a comment… Thanks for the MST3k link. I haven’t laughed that hard in a good while.

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