One-Bit Universe

Marjane Satrapi would like you to sign a petition (thanks to Mark Siegel for the link).

Yesterday, some cartoonists I know expressed sadness over Michael Jackson, which I understand. Personally, I thought it was a sad ending to a sad ending. But others were baffled by how anyone could sympathize with anyone accused (and presumed guilty) of such horrible things.

Fortunately Adobe just released a new Photoshop filter for just such occasions (screenshot above). I like to work in grayscale and RGB myself, but some out there might find it useful.

[Hypocrisy disclaimer: Anyone wanting to knock me off of my high horse can just point out my own rant about Fredric Wertham on that audio interview the other day. Guess we all do it from time to time.]

Discussion (7)¬

  1. It’s really challenging for celebrities, as they really don’t have much privacy, and make extremely easy targets. I mean, who has deeper individual pockets? You do or say the wrong thing, it’s always taken out of context by the wrong people…blown up in magazines.

    It’s weird, the guy just died and there are so many jokes I hear about him. Since when did it become okay to make fun of a tragedy, especially so close on the heels?

    I think that’s one of the problems with the world today: a lot of negative energy, the media perpetuates the cycle – all we see are the sensations. Happy rarely makes the news.

    • Comedy is often tragedy from a distance. Usually that distance is time, i.e. Presidential assassinations (They called the Homecoming Queen Miss Lincoln ’cause everyone took a shot at her up in the balcony) but often that distance is “relatability.”

      For most people, Jackson was an icon, a headline, but not a person. I’m not defending the jokes, just explaining them. I think it’s natural and isn’t a symptom of “the world today” so much as “the world.” For better or for worse, we learn to laugh at everything.

      Food for thought: People die every day, but we don’t mourn every day, because we don’t know those people. And we didn’t know Jackson either. We knew the celebrity, but not the man, and fame doesn’t make you more entitled to tears. So personally, I don’t mourn the loss of a man I never met, but I do mourn the loss of an artistic voice in our culture. I feel that’s all I have a right to mourn. Just my opinion.

  2. Of course, one of the problems of our culture is that we’ve pushed ourselves so far into air conditioned, insular, electronic worlds (is it ironic that I’m commenting from one of these?) that we’ll never get a chance to understand “the person” behind the artistic voice unless it’s heavily marketed/advertised to us.

    There’s a lot of silencing that goes on, and a part of that is the jokes (are there any positive jokes?). We pretty much know the person based on whatever the media tells us. It’s rare that we’re told the whole story. Also, the majority of the jokes seem to be hate-filled methods of perpetuating something which he cannot now defend. Would you want people perpetuating negative things about you while you were alive, and then continuing that long past the point when you were passed on?

    It’s just not nice, and it’s endemic of a larger problem in our culture. Of course, sequential art can certainly have a greater visceral impact on shaping the culture into a more healthy one. Why are we in a seemingly perpetual state of war? Is there an alternative? Does it make sense that we have people living in poverty in the ghetto, or worse on the street? Do we even see this as a culture? I think it’s awesome that a homeless person with only a napkin and a piece of charcoal could express themselves in such a way that their thoughts punch through the mind-fog of others. What could we do with the technology that you and I control at our fingertips?

    I’m just saying….

    • Good points, but consider this:

      For all his adoring fans, few people actually knew Elvis, and fewer actually truly cared about him.

      The invention of celebrity as distant icon is not a symptom of the digital era. Since the birth of mass fame, many celebrities have been simultaneously “loved” by all and loved by no one. Which is why so many lead tragic lives and died alone.

      Are there positive jokes? No, but that’s the nature of jokes isn’t it? Jokes make fun of people. Have you ever heard a positive blond joke?

      Are the jokes hate filled? Perhaps in some cases, but don’t judge the masses to quickly. Sometimes humor is all we have to process something distant and crazy. A friend of mine said “This makes the music video Thriller all the more terrifying,” and then immediately, “Does saying that make me a horrible person?” I don’t think it does. A concept popped into her head, and in a dark and twisted way, it is sorta funny. Insensitive and cruel if spoken to someone who truly cared about Jackson? Yes. Insensitive and cruel if said as a confession to a friend? Again, I don’t think so.

      Now, as far as our culture turning a blind eye to suffering…

      I’m right there with you. We should care more. The deaths that we should care about are the ones of people who never had a chance to be famous because they didn’t have enough food to survive past childhood.

  3. Steve Mackin says:

    When you mentioned Marjane Sartapi and then segued in to Michael Jackson, I thought you were going to discuss how unfortunate it is that the death of a pop icon has overshadowed a could-be revolution in Iran. Also funny cuz I just started reading Persepolis an hour ago.

    • Scott says:

      No, although I considered drawing an analogy to the Iranian governments similar need to set a Heaven-Hell wall down upon society, but then realized that might demonize people that were mostly just blowing off steam on the internet (while simultaneously trivializing the far more important events in Iran).

      So they just became just two separate items.

  4. Well now I feel bad for talking about Michael Jackson instead of Iran :/