R. Crumb gets the Murdoch’s moral treatment fans lose out
News Corp are at it again, this time on home turf. The Sydney Sunday Telegraph recently published a scathing profile of the avant garde illustrator Robert Crumb, the Godfather of the modern, counter culture comic-book. The object of their tiresome assault was to insinuate that Mr Crumb was a sexual deviant and self confessed pervert.
On July 31 in an article titled ‘Smutty show, a comic outrage’ online and ‘Cult genius or filthy weirdo’, appeared in the print version of the Sunday Telegraph. It was written by the unremarkable, pond life, journalist, JESSE PHILLIPS, who described Crumb as “sick and deranged”, “depraved”, “crude”, “warped” and “perverted”. Phillips also used quotation marks to describe him as a “seminal” figure in the underground comic scene, attempting to undermine Crumbs reputation and contribution to the art-form. The article went on to state Crumb is; “A SELF-CONFESSED sex pervert whose explicit comic drawings cannot be shown in Australia”. It continues along the lines,”He is about to deliver a talk and hold a special exhibition at the Sydney Opera House. Cartoonist Robert Crumb’s visit, funded by the Opera House and endorsed by the City of Sydney, has sparked outrage with sexual assault crisis groups describing the France-based American artist as “sick and deranged”. Crumb, a “seminal” cult comic cartoonist from the 1960s regarded by fans including the City of Sydney as legendary, and a genius, is renowned for extreme drug-fuelled drawings, depicting incest, rape, paedophilia and bestiality. The newspaper wheeled out a professional blue stocking, Mary Whitehouse equivalent, Hetty Johnston of The Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children Association Bravehearts to comment on counterculture comics legend Crumb.In one drawing, of the character Mr Natural, Crumb, now 67, depicts a sex act between an oversized baby and a man. Anti-child abuse campaigner Hetty Johnston said: “The Opera House event was endorsing the`depraved thought processes of this very warped human being”.`These cartoons are not funny or artistic, they are just crude and perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind,” she said.
Crumb was due to appear yesterday at Sydney’s Graphic arts festival, taking place at the Opera House on 20 and 21 August. The man behind Fritz The Cat, Mr Natural, and many large shelf like bootied women was to appear ‘In Conversation‘ with Fantagraphic Books co-founder Gary Groth. This was cancelled the Sydney Herald stated, “Crumb had been alarmed by the ”hateful Machiavellian tactics” behind a recent newspaper article labelling him a sex pervert and, he believed, implying he was a child abuser. His wife, Aline, feared for his safety in Australia and told him: ”That’s it, you’re not going.” Crumb, 67, shuns the limelight and lives reclusively in the south of France, rarely travelling. Referring to Lennon’s killer, Crumb said in a lengthy statement: ”What if I’d gone there [to Sydney] and what if some Mark Chapman-type person who’d read that article decided that the world needed to be cleansed of scum like R. Crumb? … This was one possibility that worried Aline deeply”.
Character assignation has certainly made up the lions share of content generated by News Corp papers, for over 35 years. Their speciality has been this sort of insincere ranting, almost always taking the moral high-ground. This is a cheap formula and it seems to sell newspapers. The public however have reached saturation point with this outmoded type of article. In light of News Corps behavior, they have become less credible by the day. The internet has made users more sophisticated and hopefully anyone interested in freedom of expression will ignore reading opportunistic journalism like the Phillips’ article. It is a shame that they have deprived interested fans of Crumbs illustration work, from meeting a legend.
News Corp needs to concentrate on their own scandal. A good place to start would be by setting an example to their readers by coming clean about the culture of bribery and illegally accessed information received through phone hacking. They need to call a moratorium on articles of this genre and stop lecturing us on morals. Rebeka Brooks and James Murdoch are now top tabloid headlines around the world themselves. Does anyone want to read articles by their employees moralise about others? Their total loss of credibility in the field of journalism and television has made the Mudoch name a liability to their shareholders, a joke to the man on the street and a laughing stock in the media industry.