Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 13, 2015

November 13 Paris Attacks Instigate Re-Contextualization Of Charlie Hebdo Murders

One outcome of attacks in multiple locations last night in Paris seems to be an immediate recontextualization of last January's murders of cartoonists, staff and security figures working at and around the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Storylines I've already seen this morning: the Hebdo murders as a first instance in a "year of terrorism" timeline, those murders as a precursor to last night's violence in terms of their both being performed despite intelligence and security efforts instituted to deny such actions, and a comparison/contrast between the perpetrators in each incident. It seems like one of those situations in which the cultural power of the Hebdo murders makes it part of the conversation no matter the logic of its applicability. If last night turns out to be something much different, there will be dissections of the contrast. If this is something similar, those similarities will be put under a spotlight.

imageMy hunch this morning looking at Twitter and Facebook and comments on news sites -- and this may be wholly and completely wrong to a ludicrous degree, I'm no Ozymandias and this isn't a comic book -- is that we may see some progression in the rhetoric about the perceived politicization of such events. I don't intend the use of the word "progression" to connote a value of one event's language and discussion strategies over another. I only wish to suggest that there's a difference between this event and that one that may take the earlier action into account. Along those lines, I would expect a more immediate seizure of political expedient narratives and explanations making use of this incident, but also an almost instant if not beforehand, blanket response condemning any sort of political comment whatsoever. I still think making political use of this will win out over deciding not to, complicated by the fact that this is a political act itself and thus demands some analysis of those elements. My guess is that a kind of step-away condemnation will be more immediate, and thus part of the discussions that develop.

In terms of practical considerations if an entity coordinated last night's attacks in a way that they have the complexity and power and intent that seemed to me indicated by my initial reading of last night's on-the-ground news, this may present a real security issue for the festival in Angouleme that maybe wasn't as reasonable to expect or fear for last year's show.

PS -- If you're a Facebook friend of the cartoonist Renee French, she's posted a cartoon I think she made during a sleepless night spent visiting Paris. She put it on-line after she declared herself safe using Facebook's tool for doing so. She's the only North American cartoonist I know of visiting Paris right this moment. She's one of my favorite people in comics, and I'm sorry her life had to dovetail with this event in even a broad, proximate sense. I will try to find out more about Paris' own cartooning community by Monday, if there is more to be uncovered. All thoughts with Renee and with Paris' substantial cartooning community in addition to that city and those with loved ones there more generally.
posted 10:00 pm PST | Permalink

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