A comic by Toby Morris is going around the web illustrating the concept and implications of privilege. It follows two people, Richard and Paula, depicting their life in a two column, multiple panel strip. It’s simple and straightforward, but was completely eye opening for me. Check it out if you haven’t seen it:
Lots of sites were saying how this comic changed how they thought about privilege. But for me, it changed how I thought about comics.
See, I’m embarrassed to admit that I had a pretty basic understanding of comics before reading this piece about privilege. But that is part of self-betterment:accepting what you don’t know and opening yourself to learn. I now know that comics can be about privilege, which is a socially constructed advantage between two cartoon characters named Richard and Paula.
Let me break it down. Richard is drawn with light hair and tends to wear hoodies. Paula has darker hair and likes to wear it in a low ponytail. And that’s all you need to know!
Just joking! It does get a bit more complicated than that. The characters have backstories. Paula’s cartoon dad is dying in the hospital and she’s pretty poor, but she is still wearing her dark hair in a low ponytail.Even when she is at work she gets to wear her hair in a low ponytail. It’s as if she doesn’t have the money or time to change her look. That’s the beauty of cartoons! By keeping the characters visually consistent readers can focus more on the content, whatever irrelevant thing it may be. The more I read Morris’ comic, the more I became enlightened to the fact that cartoons are a great way to illustrate dull poor people and the glitz and glam or fun dinner parties attended by wealthy people. I think that’s so important.
Another thing I learned is that this animation style allows for mostly still images to have isolated movement in the characters’ hands and faces. How cool! I hadn’t ever seen that before and it has helped me understand a whole new way to illustrate stupid poor people and then people like me! In fact, it was a privilege to witness that new style!
I’m rich but I’m not perfect and I’m still learning about social inadequacies are represented visually and on the web. Yesterday, I did not know about Paula and Richard or that a man named Toby Morris had doodled them up, but today I do and I am better for that. And most importantly, I learned this all by myself without help from anyone else and I deserve and have earned everything that’s been given to me, such as my new knowledge about comics.