On Veteran’s Day 2010, a controversial cartoon drawn by Jim Davis was released to the public. In an installment of Davis’ popular “Garfield” cartoons, a spider is seen taunting Garfield. The spider tells him that, if Garfield squishes him, they will hold a day in his honor and he will be remembered forever. The last square of this cartoon shows a teacher spider asking her students if any of them know why they now celebrate “National Stupid Day.”
While many comic readers believe that Davis’ cartoon was going too far, Davis insists that it was a mistake. He claims to have drawn this controversial comic over a year ago and refers to it being published on Veterans Day “the worst timing ever.”
Jim Davis isn’t the only cartoonist to release controversial cartoons. There have been jokes made all too often about death, murder, rape, September 11th, and much more. This raises the question: Just what is going too far?
Another cartoon that is no stranger to releasing controversial episodes is “South Park.” Unlike Jim Davis, who claims his comic was an accident, “South Park” thrives on releasing “bad timing” episodes. An example of this was seen in their 150th episode, titled “Hell On Earth 2006.”
In this episode, Satan decides to host a costume party for all his friends. Princess Diana and Hitler are both there. Some may think this is already tastless, but what really makes thie episide so controversial is that it features Steve Irwin, bloodied and with a stingray sticking out of his chest. Satan eventually throws Irwin out of his party, claiming that his costume went “too far” and it was “too soon” to make those jokes.
For those who don’t know, Steve Irwin passed a way in September 2006, after being stabbed in the chest by a stingray. This episode of “South Park” was released less than a month after his death.
If cartoon Satan thinks that a joke is going too far, perhaps the show’s creators should listen to him. Indeed, fans and celebrities alike decided that “South Park” writers and gone too far and they were outraged. While “South Park” suffered no long-lasting damage, they undoubtedly lost many fans due to the controversial nature of the show. The jokes simply went too far, too soon.
This isn’t the first time the “South Park” cartoon has gone too far. In 1995, “Santa Vs Jesus” was leaked onto the Internet just before Christmas time.
Originally meant to be a video Christmas card, Jesus and Santa get into a fight because Jesus feels that Santa is diminishing his existence. The two of them then break out into a Mortal Kombat-style fight, insisting that “there can be only one.”
At the end of this short cartoon, Brian Boitano saves the day and the kids learn the “true meaning of Christmas” — presents.
While many Christian viewers were upset by this controversial cartoon and claim that it was going too far, it was leaked onto the Internet and quickly became a viral video. In this situation, South Park‘slack of taste didn’t lose them viewers, but actually gained some.
Just what is going too far? If joking about Jesus fighting to the death isn’t going too far, but joking about a recent death is, then perhaps timing really is everything when dealing with controversial cartoons.
Family Guy is another show that has had its share of bad jokes. The most controversial ones are based around 9/11.
What makes these jokes even more controversial than normal is that Seth McFarlane, creator of Family Guy, was supposed to be on one plane that crashed that day. Due to him being hung over, he missed the flight by 10 minutes, which saved his life. From that moment on, Seth McFarlane claimed to not make 9/11 jokes.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t kept that promise.
In the Family Guy episode “Meet The Quagmires,” Brian goes back in time and is challenged to a fight, anytime, anywhere. Brian then jokes he’ll meet him on top of the World Trade Center at 8 a.m. September 11, 2001.
Seth McFarlane claims to have gotten a big laugh from featuring 9/11 jokes in the cartoons, which he claims surprised him. Still, there are blogs and forum posts floating around the Internet discussing whether or not his joke went too far.
Many fans claim that since the jokes were made several years after 9/11, it’s okay and is not going too far. Indeed, it seems as though as long as you’re not making a joke directly after a tragedy occurs, you can get away with a few laughs, even from a controversial cartoon.
While Jim Davis’ comic was released on Veterans Day, the holiday itself is over 80 years old. If we can learn anything from South Park and Family Guy, it’s that Jim Davis should be allowed to slide this time, as long as he doesn’t make a habit of releasing controversial topics regularly.
Lindsay Goldwert, “‘Garfield’ cartoonist Jim Davis apologizes for ‘worst timing’ of comic that ran on Veteran’s Day”
Exposay.com, “”South Park” Steve Irwin Episode Infuriate Fans”
MSNBC.com, “‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin killed by stingray”
David Griner, “How 9/11 almost put an end to Family Guy”
Joseph Goldman, “Family Guy Writers On The 911 Joke & The Fans That Saved The Show”