Is The Controversial Serena Williams Cartoon Racist? Australia's Media Watchdog Denies

Author: Admin


A media watchdog has directed that a cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams, which drew global objection after being published by Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper, didn’t breach of the Australian Press Council’s standards of practice.

As per the Australian Press Council’s rule, “The controversial cartoon of tennis star Serena Williams which led accusations of racism and sexism from all over the world was not in any way a breach of media standards,”

The cartoon, drawn by Mark Knight, the Walkley-winning cartoonist of the Herald Sun newspaper showed Williams throwing an outburst during her loss to Japan's Naomi Osaka in last year's US Open tournament.

It drew notable criticism, particularly in the US, where The Washington Post wrote the cartoon displayed "the dehumanizing Jim Crow caricatures so common in the 19th and 20th centuries".

Knight refused his depiction of Williams was racist and said he had "utterly has no knowledge" of the Jim Crow-era cartoons of African-Americans.

The depiction of Williams by cartoonist Mark Knight last September showed her behaving violently to her loss to Naomi Osaka in the final of the U.S. Open. Williams has portrayed with her mouth open wide, hands in fists and shaking above a broken tennis racket and a baby’s pacifier. In the background, an umpire asking a player on the opposite side of the net, “Can you just let her win?”

Critics convicted the cartoon as racist and sexist.

In a verdict issued Monday, the Australian Press Council announced it “accepted that some readers got the cartoon offensive” but said there was adequate public interest in reflecting on the behavior of a player with a profile globally famous.

“The council thought that the cartoon uses fantasy and senselessness to make its point but admits the publisher’s claim that it does not describe Ms. Williams as an ape, rather showing her as ‘spitting the dummy’, a non-racist caricature common to most Australian readers.”

Spitting the dummy is an Australian term for an outburst.

The Herald Sun said the cartoon applied “mockery, caricature, fantasy, and fun” to describe an event of public interest.

The Australian Press Council got numerous complaints about the cartoon, growing concerns the depiction of Williams included "features" which made the cartoon to become a racist and sexist convention of African-American people, rather than an actual depiction of Williams.

"Definitely, concern was shown that the cartoon portrayed Ms. Williams with big lips, a large flat nose, a wild afro-styled ponytail hairstyle dissimilar to that worn by Ms. Williams during the match, and placed in an ape-like pose," the Australian Press Council told in a statement.

The Herald Sun's reply to the charges was that the cartoon was "not meant to depict negatively any race or gender".

According to the newspaper, the cartoon "was drawn in a similar way that the cartoonist has done over many decades and was only believed to be a 'sporting cartoon' to grab the interest of the publication's social readership".

"As such, the Council does not think that the publication failed to take logical steps to avoid creating substantial offense, pain or hatred without sufficient reason in the public interest," it concluded.


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August 19, 2021
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