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December 31, 2005

Partying Like It’s 2005


(See the full George here.  The full Sam is here)

If you’ve been following The BAG, you know how fond I am of The Economist covers.

If you consider George Bush and America as synonymous (as I know Bush certainly does), these two recent issues illustrate the profound split between the right wing, born-again impression of man and state in contrast to actual behavior.

In the popular allusion, he/we are tall and strong; fit in body and mind; always diligently on-duty and down to business; and yet, passive innocents in the face of a divinely authored, largely ungovernable and somehow consistently calamitous natural world.

Going strictly on behavior, however, you often get a picture that is roughly the opposite.  The impression, in that case, conveys a fundamental lack of self-discipline; an insatiable and unexamined appetite for consumption; a preoccupation with sensation at the expense of feeling; and a lack of consciousness as to a world beyond self interest.

(Of course, BAGreaders outside the States can appreciate this much more fully than I.)

At the front end of an American weekend supposedly dosed by triple super-sized helpings of pigskin, commercials, sparkling wine (champagne is from France), dips, chips, bright streamers and confetti, it’s not my intention to rain on the party.  I’m just interested in how this version of Uncle Sam came to be associated with such a good time.

Really, Happy New Year.

(I’ll be back Monday.)

(images: illustrations unattributed.  Oil cover: August 27th, 2005.  Lead article.  Bush cover: October 29th, 2005.  The Economist Magazine)

  • fotonique

    Looks more like George & Ted after a long weekend…
    May the BAG and all the great BNN commenters have a happy (and safe) New Year!

  • itwasnt me

    Thanks for all the images BAG, and thanks to all the great photographers/illustrators who have appeared here. I send greetings to all posters and my sincere wish for all of us that 2006 sees some justice done, some peace come and a reason return. My apologies to the rest of the world.

  • mugatea

    Cali bubbly, at the beginning of the bottle it’s sparkling wine, by the end it’s champagne.

  • jt from BC

    There are many reasons but no country has demonstrated the ability to PROMOTE or consume like the USA.
    The goal of the advertisers was to aggressively shape consumer desires and create value in commodities by imbuing them with the power to transform the consumer into a more desirable person. … In 1880, only $30 million was invested in advertising in the United States; by 1910, new businesses, such as oil, food, electricity and rubber, were spending $600 million, or 4 percent of the national income, on advertising. Today that figure has climbed to well over $120 billion in the United States….
    It is interesting to note that 1.1 billion people are undernourished which equals the 1.1 billion who are overweight or obese.
    Those who live in the Western World confront daily the challenge of being are over fed and undernourished –in more areas than food.
    Thanks to BAG Man, and all contributors, enjoy health and a productive 2006. cheers, jt

  • readytoblowagasket

    Wow. Is Uncle Sam *supposed* to look like Karl Rove?
    As I write the New Year arrives in New York: from my apartment in Brooklyn I can see sparkles of red and white fireworks off Lower Manhattan. They twinkle and bloom through the black tree branches. Deep, reverberating booms and rapid-fire bursts begin to echo through the streets and bounce off buildings. I can hear Times Square although I can’t see it — just the belly of the cloud cover lighting up, flickering. I hate the sound of fireworks. A helicopter searchlight scans my neighborhood, probes into darkened windows, looking for someone. Who? Why? Drunken hoots, the same hoots you hear cheering at football games, somehow rise above the explosions and the helicopter’s thrumming. Take them, I think. I am glad to be rid of 2005, but I am anxious for 2006 to be better.
    I heard an interesting interview with Salman Rushdie recently, who observed that the world (even the French, he said) genuinely empathized with America after 9/11, but within a few short years, we’ve managed to turn that empathy into active opposition.
    My sincere hope for 2006 is that the opposition to the administration within America erupts, like the fireworks tonight.

  • Mad_nVT

    When I look at these cartoons of an incapacitated leadership and a bloated, wasteful populace, I too think of advertising and media manipulation.
    Bush is very much a manufactured creation, because the man himself is empty. And the American mania for over-consumption is surely tied to TV and to advertising.
    But there must be more- a spiritual deficiency that could turn such a great land and great nation, full of so many great people and great communities, into a staggering, debauched bully.
    Happy New Year? One would like to hope, but it is more likely that there are some dark and ugly times to get through first.
    Happy Solstice? More light!! Shine the light on what is truly going on in this country.

  • black dog barking

    …passive innocents in the face of a divinely authored, largely ungovernable and somehow consistently calamitous natural world.
    A lovely synopsis – innocents, divine author, and calamity. “Somehow” is the hardest working word here, a firm polite nod to a credulous ignorance (Who knew?) fogging every prying lens, every introspecting mirror. Innocence becomes the polite face of ignorance, protection from every natural doing short of calamity. Calamity trumps ignorance, meaning, of course, that *your* party is over.

  • ummabdulla

    Is George getting dangerously close to the moment when he can no longer hide the fact that the emperor has no clothes?

  • hauksdottir

    Happy New Year to you, too, and may it be a better one!!!

  • putnam

    What does it mean, that Bush’s face in this caricature looks like a vagina, with prominent clitoris?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Good catch, putnam. I can see what you see.
    It’s been my eperience that illustrators are usually completely unaware that they have drawn something that looks like male or female genitalia (and yes, it does happen), so there is no *intentional* meaning most of the time. If no one on staff notices a likeness before the publication goes to press, the illustration gets printed as is, like this Economist illustration did. If someone on staff *does* notice a likeness, the illustration gets shown to others in-house (along the lines of “Does this remind you of anything?”) and evaluated. Once one person notices, everyone else can see it instantly. The editor must then decide whether to use the illustration anyway or negotiate a revision. It’s a delicate dilemma, because an illustrator may be embarrassed or offended that other people “see” such things in their work (depending on the illustrator’s sense of humor and the editor’s or art director’s tact in discussing the matter).
    I have to add that although I mean to be serious and respectful about the topic, when I have witnessed it myself, it was fall-on-the-floor funny. That’s probably because editors don’t get out much.
    In any case, I’ll leave it to you to “privately” assign any unintentional meanings.

  • Jo

    I love them. It is sort of the George Grosz school of painting. I think the Germans mast have had it with their own evil country when they came here and they hit our correction to a T. I think these covers have got it also.

  • momly

    WEll, putnam, I was going to take a pass on teh clitoris mention, but Bush obviously looks like that because…
    ….. he is a pussy.

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