It’s an election that’s not difficult to satirize.
The race between the real estate mogul Republican nominee and the first female nominee has made for a presidential campaign year “like no other,” says David Horsey, a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times.
To celebrate the role satire plays in politics, Duke University and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists are hosting a three-day festival, which continues Friday and Saturday on Duke’s campus.
“This has been an amazing political year,” Horsey said at a panel discussion Thursday morning that kicked off the festival. “Our politics are so much more fractured and so much more interesting than the old symbols of elephants and donkeys can tell you.”
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The festival – most of which is free and open to the public – includes live cartooning, an improv performance and panel discussions about the role of cartoons in covering topics such as modern policing and the Black Lives Matter movement. Friday’s schedule includes a panel on satirizing North Carolina’s House Bill 2 controversy and “Night of The Simpsons,” a ticketed event with writers, directors and producers from the long-running TV show.
Frederick Mayer, director of the Center for Politics, Leadership, Innovation and Service at Duke, organized the event with Bill Adair, director of the Dewitt Wallace Center for Media and Democracy.
“Satire reveals things that aren’t so obvious,” said Mayer, a political science professor. “It punctures hypocrisy. It’s a remarkably efficient way of communicating political information.
“It may be our best hope of really seeing clearly what is at stake in this election,” he added.
Mayer said he hopes the festival will help students “who might otherwise tune out” engage in the political process by presenting information in a way that is creative.
But he emphasizes that cartoons are about more than making people laugh.
“It’s creative and it’s fun, but it’s also really serious,” Mayer said. “The cartoons aren’t funny – they’re incisive.”
Rachel Chason: 919-829-4629
Where: Duke University, various places on campus.
When: Friday and Saturday
Schedule: Go to nando.com/cartoonfestival.