" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

September 1, 2013

Controversial Crumb

I've just finished reading about R Crumb's life in a very good book called, The R Crumb Handbook.
And at the moment I'm also reading his The Book of Genesis
which is a work of cartooning art in itself.
While I like a fair bit of Crumb's work, 
I have to also say some of his work does make me cringe.

Robert Crumb's 'When the Niggers Take Over America!'

I've read articles like the one below of people trying to defend his work, and while I can see what they are trying to say, being of Jewish ancestry myself, I would find the argument a little more reassuring if I could find him dishing out the same outrageous "parodies" to his beloved Roman Catholic Church, but if he has done so, I can't seem to find any of his work on that subject.

He doesn't seem to want to go there for some reason, and with all the pedophilia scandals in that institution you would think a person as brave as Crumb is would have a field day here, but he seems to be too scared to parody the Church for some reason. 

"The cartoon strip published below — “When the Goddamn Jews take over America” — is not, as its title might suggest, anti-Semitic in intent. On the contrary, it is a highly sophisticated satirical spoof by Judeophile cartoonist Robert Crumb that brings together a number of anti-Semitic “canards” and “stereotypes”. Far from being anti-Semitic, the cartoon strip is therefore an attempt to poke fun at the anti-Semites and their ridiculous “conspiracy theories” about Jews.

It must be remembered that Robert Crumb’s second wife, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, was Jewish. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in New York, the Goldsmiths, Aline was a highly talented underground comics artist in her own right. She was known to collaborate with her husband Robert on many of his assignments. So it is more than likely that Aline collaborated with Crumb on this particular cartoon strip with its tongue-in-cheek anti-Semitism.

When Aline met Robert in 1978, it was love at first sight. She was attracted to the bearded humorist because she thought he was Jewish. This is what she has to say:

“I had read Robert’s work before I met him and I thought he was Jewish because he was so whiny. He’s such a kvetch. When I saw Robert’s comics, I thought: here is Jewish humor at its best. When my grandparents met him, they thought he was a rabbinical student. When we finally told them the truth, they were really disappointed. My grandmother tried to get him to convert [to Judaism] for years. Robert seems to be somewhat of a Jewophile because I’m his second Jewish wife. (See here) "

“When the goddamn Jews take over America”: Robert Crumb cartoon strip, introduced by Xanadu

"If Crumb’s humor is “Jewish humor at its best”, this does not say much for Jewish humor — however anarchic and irreverent Jewish humor is meant to be. Crumb’s work has elicted harsh comment from many critics. It has been denounced as racist, anti-feminist, and sexually perverted."

I admire his artistic ability, but I think some of his "parodies" are nothing but his fears being expressed through his drawings.
He certainly is worth studying as far as his honesty about life goes, but when you're reading his work from the other side of the fence, his work can be a bit scary when analyzing the thoughts of a scared little man.


King Uke said...

Great post. As you know I love lots of old stuff... Music... Books... Art... Etc. A risk of older materials is that they can be non-pc. I particularly hate it when racism rears its head. It's a quandary: Do you overlook the bad so you can appreciate the good in the older 'artists'; Or do you ignore all of their work in protest? It's an uncomfortable problem. I'm not sure i know the answer to this one :-S

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

My problem with R Crumb is he says he is only joking about Jews and Negroes,well my point is why can't I find him "joking" and making fun of the Catholic Church,which he was raised in ? I can't find any kiddy fiddling priest cartoons or nuns in obscene cartoons...why ? Because he is either too scared to go there,or it's only good to take the piss out of us other races.When I see him doing the same to his mother church (and the book of Genesis doesn't count,because that's a Jewish book as well) then I might call him fearless in his brain spews,but he seems to be censoring himself in some areas of his mind and projecting his own cultural fears from what I can see to me.He is a good artist,but I can see why some people think he is a racist and so forth,with maybe some justification.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

I like his art, but he does seem to have some prejudices! Good point about the catholic church, daz.