Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Joe Sacco, cartoonist of Palestine, on Weekend America

Joe Sacco appeared on "Weekend America" recently, talking about his comic book, Palestine, as well as his new work on Gaza. I first learned about his work from Purnima Bose, who talked about it during our "Resistance Literature" class in the mid-1990s. It's a fascinating journalistic investigation of the question of Palestine, unwavering in its realism; it's as if the cartoon form enables a sort of clarity and emotion that would have been impossible under the strictures of "journalistic objectivity." Here's what Sacco has to say about those strictures:
I think with journalists, too much attention is paid to this notion of presenting a so-called objective picture, which generally often can mean, you go, you talk to some people, and then you go to the spokesperson on the other side and get a quote to balance it out. But I find sometimes this balancing it out, what that involves is washing it out so that what the journalist actually knows is going on or what they really feel is an important point is being sort of lost. And a journalist often thinks he or she is done when they've presented both sides of the story. What I want from a journalist is what they would tell me if they were sitting across from me at dinner. What is going on over there? You tell me. That's what I want. But I want an honest appraisal of what's going on. And that's what I meant by that.

This pretty much captures why literary and documentary modes of narration are as necessary as ever, and why "the news" does not always lead to a more informed, more responsible citizenry. We're objectivized to confusion, apathy, and resignation.

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