Comic caper causes social media backlash

| 16/03/2015 | 186 Comments

(CNS): A cartoon published in Cayman’s local daily newspaper on Monday caused a significant stir on social media when the joke appeared to backfire. Caymanian job seekers and many others took offence to the comic caper by the cartoonist ‘Caymanman’, a.k.a. the local entertainer Barefoot Man, and began calling for a boycott of the Cayman Compass for publishing it.

Depicting what appeared to be a hapless unemployed youngster who was stuck on doing nothing rather than working, the cartoon caused outrage, not just from jobless locals but politicians and many others as well, as it was reposted numerous time on social media sites.

But Barefoot, whose real name is George Novak, told Cayman News Service that he believed the cartoon was “harrrrraarrrious…”.

“Why are some people so stupid?” he asked as he queried exactly what was offensive about the cartoon. “If you can’t take a joke … don’t read the cartoons,” he added. In the wake of the day’s backlash and defending his cartoons, Barefoot said, “People who can’t take a joke have no idea how hilarious they are to those of us who can.”

However, a long list of commenters on Facebook and elsewhere did find it offensive. Dwene Ebanks, a candidate in the 2013 elections and a professional who has found himself out of work, called on “all Caymanians everywhere to boycott” the paper for publishing what he said was the “insulting and offensive cartoon”.

Ebanks told CNS that he believed the joke depicted unemployed Caymanians “in a very demeaning way”. He said that until the paper apologizes to the Caymanian people no one should buy the paper. “I am calling on all Caymanians and shop owners to call the paper and tell them that they do not wish to carry a product that offends the very essence of who they are.”

And he was not alone. Many other locals commented that they found the subject matter of jobless locals not something they wanted to laugh about, as they implied the stereotyping of youngsters struggling to find work was inappropriate.

Alva Suckoo, the government’s backbench representative for Bodden Town, didn’t see the funny side. Having followed the backlash throughout the day, he called for the paper to apologize because of what he said were the blatant racist implications of the cartoon.

“It’s attempting to create a stereotype, which is going to hurt our young people,” he said. “The paper should issue an apology to young Caymanians as this is a damaging and racist depiction.”

The Progressives MLA said it didn’t matter whether it was meant to be funny or what politicians thought about the gag; it was young Caymanians that were owed the apology.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller also thought the cartoon was a step too far and said he had heard the backlash about it throughout the day. But he said this was not an isolated incident and the paper had used the struggles faced by locals trying to find work as the brunt of its jokes or fodder for editorials on several occasions.

“This is not the first cartoon that is step too far when it comes to insulting Caymanians,” he said. “This type of thing just fuels the problems, and the drum which is being constantly banged in the media all of time that Caymanians are unemployable is false. Like every other country in the world there are some people who don’t want to work but there are many professionals here battling every day to try and find a job and our professionals are equal to any other professionals in the world,” he added.

Meanwhile, the publishers invited anyone who was unhappy about the cartoon, which appeared on the opinion page, to send in their signed letters.

“The editorial cartoon to which you refer appeared on the Editorial Page of The Cayman Compass which is, as you know, the ‘opinion page’ of the newspaper,” David Legge, the paper’s owner and editor in chief, told CNS via email in response to questions submitted. “We give all contributors to this page – from letter writers to columnists to cartoonists – wide latitude in expressing their views. We invite anyone who would like to express an opinion on this issue to write a signed letter to the Compass editor.”

He did not, however, answer the questions we sent, including whether or not he thought it was funny.

CNS also asked the Compass if we could reproduce the image of the cartoon but the paper refused.

For CNS readers who didn’t see it, the cartoon (which can be viewed broadly across Facebook) was a drawing of a bespectacled man sitting behind a desk marked ‘Labour office’ speaking to what appeared to be a disinterested young man smoking a spliff and wearing a reversed baseball cap.

The man was telling the youth: “OK young man. You need to stop whining that you can’t get a job. There are lots of jobs out there. You can do anything you want with a little initiative. Nothing is impossible.”

Meanwhile, the youth was thinking: ”Don’t make sense to me ‘nothing is impossible?’ I’ve been doing nothing all my life … So it’s not impossible.”

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Category: Jobs, Local News

Comments (186)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No need for soap operas, just follow all the comments on face book regarding this. Certain peoples FB pages never fail to keep you entertained. Do you think she just chilled and went to the beach before face book?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Blown out of all proportion…the Barefoot Man is not much of a singer/songwriter so since when did he become a renowned comic satirist ?

    • Anonymous says:

      Right after you posted your opinion he became a renowned comic satirist. Along with a successful (means he’s good) singer/songwriter. The irony is at least as funny as the original cartoon. And once again proves that it is certain aspects of the human condition (all of us) that are funny to many of us when brought to life.

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