A Good Cartoon is one of those precious few things that justify Tumblr’s continued existence. If you’re not familiar with it, the author/s take conservative political cartoons and reinterpret them with a progressive or even radical left-wing message, with hilarious results. Each reappraisal traditionally ends with the verdict: “A good cartoon.” In the same tradition, I’d like to do my own “good cartoon,” using the work of what appears to be a popular political cartoonist in Russia. I typically see his work posted by different VK groups, but I believe I’ve also seen the same work published on RIA-Novosti. Honestly I can’t remember and don’t care. Almost any of these cartoons could merit the same treatment, but after seeing today’s subject I couldn’t hold back anymore. So without further ado…
Obama wakes up from a nightmare, in this case a strange vision of a bizarro-world in which the US actually needs to buy oil from Russia and can’t pay for it in dollars. Of course Obama’s nightmare is every Putin fan’s wet dream, i.e. the switch from trading oil in dollars to local currencies such as rubles. Incidentally, Russian politicians and Putin fan-boys have been predicting this as being just-around-the-corner for years. Whether nightmare or wet-dream, it is like all dreams a fantasy concocted in an unfettered mind at rest and totally out of touch with material reality.
The shock on Obama’s face is partially a reaction to how ridiculous the whole thing seems, seeing that Russia isn’t even in the top 10 list of countries from which the US imports its oil. It’s actually number twelve, behind countries such as Ecuador, Angola, and Chad. Thus if the Putin fan’s wet dream actually came true, Obama would first and foremost need Canadian dollars and Saudi riyals, not rubles, not by a long shot. Obama must also think it’s strange to have a dream about such a bizarre scenario in light of what’s been going on with US domestic oil production in recent times. He’s probably wondering why he didn’t have a dream about falling from a high building or being chased by wolves, both being far more plausible scenarios than what he saw in this particular nightmare.
Of course the talking bear has symbolic significance as well. At first glance one might dismiss it as the cliche symbol of Russia, but it has a deeper meaning. The bear symbolizes the depths to which the Russian economy is slated to fall, reaching a point where austerity measures and budget cuts become so severe that state workers and functionaries are laid off en masse and replaced by trained bears which will work for honey and the opportunity to rifle through people’s garbage. Yet as any reasonable person might expect, turning over routine financial transactions and trade policy to bears, or any animals for that matter, is bound to result in a marked drop in the quality of work. Hence this bear, thinking primarily of a sweet reward and blissfully unaware of humans’ concept of trade and economics, fruitlessly demands payment in the currency he is used to seeing being handled by his trainers. As such, Obama is unable to buy the oil he doesn’t need.
A good cartoon.