They say that when you get older, you turn into your parents. With Garry Trudeau, it's even worse: He's turned into his grandparents.
Here he is, in a ramble of reminiscence just like Gramps with his pipe in front of the fireplace telling the young'uns gathered around at their college commencement about how when when he was a stripling at Yale back during the 1960s , his comic strip, Doonesbury, was was actually controversial:
The strip was forever being banned. And more often than not, word would come back that it was not the editor but the stuffy, out of touch owner/publisher who was hostile to the feature.
For a while, I thought we had an insurmountable generational problem, but one night after losing three papers, my boss, John McMeel, took me out for a steak and explained his strategy. The 34-year-old syndicate head looked at his 22-year-old discovery over the rim of his martini glass, smiled, and said, “Don’t worry. Sooner or later, these guys die.”
Well, damned if he wasn’t right. A year later, the beloved patriarch of those three papers passed on, leaving them to his intemperate son, whose first official act, naturally, was to restore Doonesbury. And in the years that followed, a happy pattern emerged: All across the country, publishers who had vowed that Doonesbury would appear in their papers over their dead bodies were getting their wish.
We durned hippies were shaking things up for them over-30 oldsters, weren't we?
But now that Trudeau is 3 X 22–and Doonesbury is mostly remarkable these days as the comic strip with the oversize frame that nobody reads–probably because of its eye-glazingly politically correct harangues that pass for humor. There was that strip about Rolling Stone's shocking expose of "rape culture" at a UVA fraternity house–which ran on December 28, 2024, nearly a month after the Rolling Stone piece had been exposed as hokum. Grandpa's forgetful sometimes.
And then there's all that complaining about those kids today at Charlie Hebdo–they don't understand the way you're supposed to be controversial. No, you're not supposed to pick on Islamic jihadists! You're supposed to stick to Republicans and trailer trash:
Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.
By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—the 7 million copies that were published following the killings did exactly that, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world, including one in Niger, in which ten people died. Meanwhile, the French government kept busy rounding up and arresting over 100 Muslims who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks.
Trudeau–can also wax a tad anti-Semitic in his fireside rambles:
The White House took a lot of hits for not sending a high-level representative to the pro-Charlie solidarity march, but that oversight is now starting to look smart. The French tradition of free expression is too full of contradictions to fully embrace. Even Charlie Hebdo once fired a writer for not retracting an anti-Semitic column. Apparently he crossed some red line that was in place for one minority but not another.
That's why Grandad forgot all about the massacre at the Paris kosher supermarket that followed on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Wrong "powerless" group!
Ah, advanced age! When you're young, old people are "stuffy" and "out of touch." When you're old, you get to be "stuffy" and "out of touch."