Culture

Australian newspaper defies criticism, reprints Serena Williams cartoon

Australian newspaper defies criticism, reprints Serena Williams cartoon”

Mark Knight, the artist whose cartoon depiction of star tennis player Serena Williams got the internet buzzing has said that the cartoon isn't racist.

The cartoon depicts Serena's confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos during the US Open final, showing the tennis superstar destroying her racquet with a child's dummy lying on the ground next to her. Knight's cartoon conjures up a range of such caricatures that were branded on memorabilia and popularized on stage and screen of the era, including the minstrel-show character Topsy born out of "Uncle Tom's Cabin", as well as the title character in 1899's "Little Black Sambo".

In the controversial cartoon, Williams is shown with grotesque features including an oversized nose and lips, and is pictured jumping up and down with a broken racket and a pacifier, likely insinuating that Williams acted like a baby having a temper tamptrum during the final.

Popular author JK Rowling said on Twitter, "Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist tropes and turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop".

"Mark has the full support of everyone".

"You are a liar", Williams said, while pointing her finger.

"If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be very boring indeed", the paper said in an editorial.

On Tuesday the Melbourne publication published the cartoon, which was condemned by many around the world as racist.

"I'm here fighting for women's rights and for women's equality and for all kinds of stuff".

Knight, like nearly every cartoonist, mocks the powerful and famous when required; whether it be prime ministers like Malcolm Turnbull or presidents like Donald Trump.

Freelance journalist Funmi Olutoye told HuffPost UK she thought the cartoon played into negative portrayals of the 14-times Wimbledon champion in the media. "I'm not going to say, 'Oh, I can't draw that because that's a no-go area.' What does that say about the way the world's going?"

But many slammed Knight for the cartoon calling it racist, the Jakarta Post reported. "I think the only solution to that is for ordinary people to fight and retaliate back much louder, so they can hear us from the back of their stadiums".

'There's intent there. To depict Serena not looking like herself, and her features to be overdrawn and over-exaggerated in such a way that evokes some of the historical negative images of black people over the last century.

Knight was criticised in some quarters for being "racist and sexist".

In 2016, Bill Leak was slammed for a cartoon that implied Indigenous fathers were alcoholics, poor parents and irresponsible, again painting a whole culture with historic and hurtful race-based stereotypes.



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