So for this week, I’m doing something different.
As usual when a celebrity dies, the passing of Roger Ebert spawned a passel of cheesy obituary cartoons by editorial cartoonists who depict the departed at the pearly gates, enjoying the afterlife. I hate the format and I usually only do them to mock the form or take a really contrarian position on the subject.
This time, I’ve decided to show what the form could be: an opportunity for assessing a life, and its social and political meaning in our culture. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to draw an intelligent obituary cartoon. But is it possible for it to be printed in a newspaper?
No doubt, critic Roger Ebert had a remarkable passion for film. His brutal final cancer years couldn’t crush his enthusiasm for the form. Lost in the misty-eyed remembrances, however, was his awful taste. More than any other film reviewer, Ebert reinforced the hollow sentimentality and arrogant exceptionalism that compose the nasty side of the American character.
P.S. Worth reading.