Saturday, 7 July 2012

435: Jules Feiffer 6 - The Army Game

Playboy, May 1993

Feiffer hadn’t had a cartoon in “Playboy” for almost the last two years prior to this, and that was when he was doing a series of cartoons about the perils of middle-aged dating “Bernard and Huey”. This is a topical one-off, inspired by the months of investigation and debate about the issue of gays in the military in the early days of the Clinton administration which would lead to the implementation of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

The Larry on the other end of the phone would be American talkshow host Larry King.

Irrespective of the political issue, the comic hook of a sexual encounter where a gay transvestite tricks a straight man is pure “Playboy”. This particular scenario has cropped up in “Playboy” cartoons numerous times since the late 1960s. Usually the comedy payoff is shock or horror, but the acceptance and willingness of the soldier to fuck is a new development and so the joke goes further and is also proof of Feiffer’s superiority in handling his materials. Then the next twist is that the attractive transvestite is revealed to be a gay soldier – although a gay soldier naturally being in drag is a bit retrogressive. The subsequent queer-bashing is this soldier revealing his own hypocritical ignorance and opens up further conflicted arenas of machismo and the military. Finally the lewd comments about lesbians only includes one further aspect of crass attitudes to homosexuality. So a lot of territory covered in one short monologue.

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