Activist Cartoons without Borders: The Political Cartoons of Brazilian Artist Carlos Latuff
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Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff has been described by Allers in Menassat as `a one-man cartoon wrecking-ball when he hits the ink.' In the last few years of penning sharp cartoons, he `has been alternatively praised and vilified in the press for his depictions of suffering' in places like the Palestinian territories, Iraq, and the slums of Latin America. In this study, I use Latuff's work to illustrate how the artist has formed a global identity based on political affiliation, rather than national origin. I show how the `affordances' of the Internet, namely, the ability of non-mainstream individuals and groups to self-publish, and the ability of activists to contact him directly, have allowed Latuff to be his own publisher and to contact his fans without intermediaries. The fearless cartoonist avoids `blockages' to free communication by posting on his website daring political cartoons that veer off from mainstream views on global issues. Furthermore, his cartoons draw their power from being centered on a marginalized global audience that most mainstream cartoonists ignore. His lateral communication with his 120,374 Twitter followers (September 13, 2012 count), coupled with his use of new forms of copyright protections, such as Creative Commons and Copyleft, have broadened his appeal to the general public whose members remix his work on walls, placards and T-shirts, and use it for their own political ends. Finally, I argue that the growing use of social media by social movements enhances the organizing capacity of activists internally, but also encourages lateral communication with the formerly unreachable `global other,' exposing the global communicators to views not readily available on mainstream media, and affording them a forum previously denied them.