söndag 1 januari 2012

Galago #99: Nu blåser vi borgarna igen ("Screw the bourgeois – again")

The Swedish alternative-comics flagship Galago has a tradition of leftist social criticism and satire, and has recently declared itself dedicated to attacking the center-right government of Sweden. Previously, they'd done an issue before every election dedicated to attacking the center-right political side, but now that's a permanent direction of the magazine.

Galago #99 was published before the most recent election, in 2010. So how did it measure up? Well, not greatly, IMO – but since I'm a liberal, I'm probably not the intended audience.

The first story depicts a TV show in a future where the (basically racist) party Sverigedemokraterna ("The Sweden Democrats")  is in power and executes people for being different under the motto "Bort med slöddret!" ("Get rid of the scum!"). It's a bit over the top and doesn't really address Sverigedemokraterna's policies, so it really comes off as mainly venting. And that's the problem with most of the comics in this issue – they're not really satirical; instead they're just angry people telling the reader that they're angry.

Now, venting is often personally satisfying, I'll grant them that, and reading somebody else venting about things that one is angry about oneself is also pretty satisfying. But that's also all it is. It doesn't bring any new knowledge, any new arguments, it's just emotionally satisfying. It's kinda like those people carrying around a sign of Pres. Obama as the Joker – they and their friends may go "Ha! Ha! That stupid Obama! I really got him good!", but they're not learning anything about actual policy in the bargain; instead they're just wasting valuable time and energy that could be better used educating themselves. Similarly, drawing a picture of the conservative Swedish prime minister as an ugly, big dick is probably very emotionally satisfying for people who hate him and his policies, but it's not really much in the way of satire.

So what else is there? Well, Mats Jonsson draws a short story about his communist youth, when it was considered very funny to accuse young conservatives of being Nazis. Sara Hansson does a good page on how to resist turning your rental building into a co-op – and it's good because she does a good job depicting the feeling of powerlessness that people might feel when such a decision goes against their wishes. Pontus Lundkvist does a really good story on people who complain about "political correctness", but IMO doesn't really manage turn it into the attack on the center-right as much as on a special brand of conspiratorically-minded (usually rather right-wing) people. Fabian Göransson – who's normally very good, and whose Inferno is worth your time – does a story about growing up in a wealthy, politically rightist suburb that starts out interesting but sort of fails to really go anywhere.

Sara Hansson then does a story about her fears of the EU and the political center-right parties, which starts out interesting – after all, she's talking about her own genuine emotions here – but which loses me when she tells about going out with her friends and tearing down the election posters of the center-right parties; I'm not a big fan of the "freedom of speech for me but not for thee" political theory. Sara Olausson does an initially amusing, zany story about a grownup Pippi Longstocking blackmailing her childhood friend Tommy into giving her a job (which turns out to be distributing anti-immigrant chauvinistic propaganda), but it peters out towards the end when she tries too hard to get a shoutout for the Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation into the story. Etc.

Again, the basic problem with most of the stories in this issue is that they're too much on the simplistic side. Some of them capture my interest with a personal story or a more personal touch, but on the whole, it's pretty tepid fare, and usually not very well drawn. Comparing it to some great American political satirists like Tom Tomorrow or Ruben Bolling, it's simply not even a competition (although admittedly, the US political scene is probably a lot easier to satirize than a Swedish center-right government – I sometimes find myself wondering what The Daily Show writers get paid for other than lifting large portions of crazy practically verbatim from the speeches of right-wing Republican politicians?). If you want Swedish political satire, perhaps you should try Max Gustafson instead. I don't really agree with him either, politically, but at least he's a bit funnier.

Not recommended.

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