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Fighting fascism with funny

Jim Carrey illustration
Kim McAuley

May 15, 2019

In these dark times, if you need a dose of inspiration with a laugh, sign up to Jim Carrey’s twitter account. Still the comedian we know and love, Carrey has also been drawing since he was a kid. For the past few years he’s been using the majority of his time and artistic talent to draw political cartoons, as well as paint and sculpt.

Many hadn’t heard about Carrey’s drawing and the political content until a high profile twitter fight with the granddaughter of Mussolini. Carrey sent a picture with the caption “If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta.” Under the caption was a painting Mussolini strung up by his ankles – an obvious reference to the day they were both killed by anti-fascist forces.

His political cartoons are colourful, one-panel statements, which he mostly uses to take on whoever he sees as the most vile politician of the moment.

His humanity is evident in his art, sharing the rage we’re collectively feeling about the political climate we’re living in today. His work is colourful in every way, subversive, raw, angry, progressive and often darkly funny. He mostly takes on Trump – ‘the Demon and his minions who are controlling us’ – and exposes their corruption and greed in ways that are both funny and painful at once.

In a November 2018 interview with Jerry Saltz, a long-haul truck driver who became an art critic at 41 and received the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2018, we get to hear a lot more about Carrey’s work, and politics. It’s a great hour on YouTube if you’re looking for a refreshing diversion (Jim Carrey and Jerry Saltz on Art and Activism), coming out of the Vulture Festival.

As a dual Canadian and American citizen – he was born in Newmarket, Ontario, and went to high school in Aldershot near Hamilton – he has a unique perspective. At about the half way mark of the interview, he comments that Canadian healthcare is good; he’s sick and tired of hearing that that system doesn’t work; and that “healthcare is what great countries do when they fucking grow up”.

It’s also refreshing that someone who has made his millions hasn’t completely lost touch with reality, and uses his money, time and energy to create art that exposes how heavily our reality is impacted by corruption and greed enacted by those in power. He states in the interview that he has been cautioned by his managers about losing his audience over politics, but he’s not bothered by that. His attitude is very much ‘so be it’. He wants to speak truth to power, and invites those who don’t see things the same way to use the door.

Carrey is passionate about wanting to tell us to ‘watch out’ for certain people and ‘painting examples of the inequities of the world’ ‘from a place of fury, anger, pain, rage, but also love for what life is supposed to be’. He asks, “how can you hate something without loving something else”. That statement is arresting from this socialist’s perspective – we know that we can do much better than we’re currently doing, are angered by the corruption we are fighting to end and driven by love of the knowledge that we can create a better world.

Carrey’s work provides political comedic relief from the darkness of the Trumps and Fords of the world, but he is still trapped in the reformist’s dilemma of believing that elections are the way in which we can best make change in our society. While he doesn’t like being labeled a socialist, he notes he’s also been called a snowflake, saying that a million snowflakes make a blizzard. It will be interesting to see if this creative spirit and political mind tires of poking an angry but fun finger at the corruption, or if he can make a further step to the left.

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