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Wednesday, 12 September 2018 05:55

Cartoonist demands apology after backlash

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight recently caused outrage on the internet after he posted a depiction of Serena Williams breaking her racket during the U.S. Open final. Many have come to social media to slam the cartoonist, including J.K. Rowling.

The picture in question showed Williams stomping her tennis racket with a pacifier near her feet. In the background of the cartoon, umpire Carlos Ramos could be seen asking her opponent Naomi Osaka to let Serena win. Osaka was depicted as a white, blonde-haired girl even though she has dark and curly hair in real life.

Many people thought that the cartoon was problematic because of its inaccurate and inappropriate depiction of both female tennis players. There were even people who compared it to the stereotypes seen in anti-black political cartoons from the Jim Crow-era of America.

"Well done on reducing one of the greatest sportswomen alive to racist and sexist troupe," Rowling tweeted. "And turning a second great sportswoman into a faceless prop." ESPN commentator Jemele Hill called the image "about as subtle as Fran Drescher's voice."

Knight was quick to defend himself after one user asked him about "cartoon for all the men who have broken their rackets over the years." He posted a cartoon of a male official bending over to speak to male tennis player Nick Kyrgios after the latter threw a fit during a game. In the next frame, Krygios was dragged by a female official. "What should have happened," was written on top of the frame.

"Well Julie here's a cartoon I drew a few days before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly," Knight wrote along with the cartoon. "Don't bring gender into it when it's all about behavior. I'll accept your apology in writing."

Well Julie here’s a cartoon I drew a few days before when Australian male tennis player Kyrgios at the US Open was behaving badly. Don’t bring gender into it when it’s all about behaviour. I’ll accept your apology in writing? pic.twitter.com/NLV0AjPGsY

— Mark Knight (@Knightcartoons) 10 September 2018
Knight further defended himself while speaking to Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday evening, September 10. He noted that he was "upset that people are offended," but he would not take the cartoon down.

"When I watched the U.S. Open, I was sitting there like everybody else and I saw the world No. 1 tennis player have a huge hissy fit and spit the dummy. That's what the cartoon is about, her poor behavior on the court. Nothing to do with gender or racism at all," he said. "I think what's happening here is people are just making stuff up."

 

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