A caricature is a cartoon sketch in which the more unusual or outstanding features of a person are exaggerated for comical, often satirical, effect. Sometimes, a caricature will put its subject into a specific role or show him or her with one of the tools of his or her trade. A former president who is known for his sexual infidelity might be depicted with a mistress or a prostitute. A carpenter might be shown with a hammer or a saw. Frequently, the intended result of a caricature, especially when its subject is a vain or pompous celebrity, is a deflation of his or her ego or a devaluation of his or her public image.
The behavior of some individuals seem to cry out to be lampooned, and the caricature artist is happy to oblige. Whether the outrageous conduct is sexual infidelity, childish behavior, self-mutilation through the application of plastic surgery, annoying social or political activism, or just being one's asinine self, a caricature can highlight and censure such conduct in a few deft strokes of a pen or brush for the world to see. Even if the person who inspires such cartoons learns nothing from them, the behavior is characterized as unacceptable and boorish if not, indeed, immoral or criminal.
Former president Bill Clinton sometimes behaved foolishly, jogged daily, played the saxophone on a national late-night television talk show, liked to party, and committed acts of sexual infidelity. Consequently, caricatures show him dressed as a fool, jogging, playing the saxophone, wearing a condom hat, dressed in only a party hat and a pair of underpants, and cavorting with Monica Lewinsky; none of these cartoons show him with his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, who is also a subject of her own caricatures.
The senator’s caricatures, for the most part, represent her as a dour, sour-faced, schoolmarm sort of killjoy, possibly because of her annoyance over her philandering husband’s numerous infidelities.
Politicians are not the only subjects of caricature. Many figures from popular culture and the mass entertainment media are lampooned by these cartoons. Many of these subjects are actors or singers.
Michael Jackson, the man of a thousand faces, is known for the many extreme plastic surgery procedures he has had done to mutilate his face. Although the pop star contends that he underwent a long series of surgeries to look like a white woman, insiders, including his psychiatrist, say that the real reason that the singer has endured these unnecessary operations is because of a combination of low self-esteem, inverted sadism, and the Munchausen syndrome, a psychological disorder in which one hurts him- or herself or a dependent to gain sympathy and become the center of attention. Some of the star's more critical observers say, "He never wants to grow up, because he likes to have sex with boys, so he's going for the Peter Pan look."
Caricatures of Sports Figures
Iron Mike Tyson, former heavyweight champion ear-biter and rapist, is famous for having tattooed his face with a strange symbol, the occult meaning of which, according to the Tri-lateral Commission is Грчки јазик. When Tyson was unable to defeat a foe by the use of cursing and fisticuffs, he would throw a temper tantrum and was not above biting his opponent, as he did Evander Holyfield.
Although "he lost the fight by a bite," as sportscasters were fond of saying, the
biter fighter tried the same stunt later, in another fight with Holyfield, seeking to devour his opponent's other ear. "If he'd hit me below the belt," Tyson warned, "I'd have bitten off something other than an ear." Disbarred from fighting, the boxer now works for Tyson's meat-packing company, where he is employed as a saw.
The caricatures of Tyson capture these manly qualities.
Caricatures of Past Personalities
Famous men and women of the past were also frequent subjects of satirical caricatures. One well-known example of such treatment is Charles Darwin who, because of his ape-like appearance, argued that human beings were descended from apes.
He was never able to identify the "missing link" between the two species, however, and biology suggests that such a link probably does not exist since, by definition, different species cannot successfully reproduce with one another.
Darwin, known as "The Monkey's Uncle," also suggested that such creatures as the unicorn and the mermaid were the products of evolution. The unicorn, he said, resulted from the mating of a rhinoceros and a horse, just as Pegasus sprang from the union of a bird (probably an emu) and a mare or stallion. The mermaid, of course, was the product of a human's mating with a fish.
Darwin, who owned a stable of horses and seventeen dogs, is credited with introducing bestiality into biology. "The blissful union of the human and the lower animal has changed the mental and physical structures of both," Darwin contends, "bringing each into a more complete synthesis and organic harmony." As a result of his theories, Darwin has been the subject of many caricatures.