Culture

Herald Sun Doubles Down On Serena Williams Cartoon Controversy With A Huge Front Page Tantrum

Because of course they have.

The Herald Sun has thrown a massive sook after being called out for publishing a racist cartoon of Serena Williams, republishing the offending image on its front page along with a warning about censorship and political correctness.

The News Corp tabloid has been under fire since Monday, when it ran a cartoon by Mark Knight depicting Williams with enlarged facial features stomping on her racket on the tennis court. Knight has since defended the image, saying it was meant to call out Williams’ “poor behaviour” during her US Open match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka and that it had “nothing to do with race”. But critics from J.K. Rowling to The Washington Post have slammed the cartoon as offensive, with many likening it to anti-black propaganda from America’s Jim Crow era.

Knight’s employers spent most of Tuesday defending their man. News Corp Australiasia executive chairman Michael Miller tweeted that the controversy “shows the world has gone too PC”, while the paper also published an editorial saying Knight’s critics were “ill-informed”.

Meanwhile, Knight has deleted his twitter account following a barrage of criticism from around the world. According to News Corp, Knight and his family have received death threats.

Which brings us to Wednesday, and a Herald Sun front page plastered with cartoons from throughout Knight’s career. In addition to the caricature of Williams, it includes a sketch of a big-eared Tony Abbott in a Hannibal Lecter mask, Barnaby Joyce as a “randy ram” and Donald Trump in bathrobe stroking a cat.

Accompanying the images is the headline “Welcome To PC World” and a graphic warning readers of a “satire free zone”. Below that is a byline that reads: “If the self-appointed censors of Mark Knight get their way on his Serena Williams cartoon, our new politically correct life will be extremely dull indeed.”

It is a lot.

The implication seems to be that Knight has a long history of mocking public figures with exaggerated sketches of their likeness, and therefore his cartoon of Williams isn’t racist.

But as has already been pointed out repeatedly, the issue here isn’t that Knight made fun of Williams, but that he employed historically racist imagery — large lips, a wide nose — in order to do so. This kind of imagery has been used for hundreds of years to demean and dehumanise black people. It’s racist, whether it was intended to be or not.

1. How is it that absolutely none of these are funny?
2. The majority of these are totally fine. The argument is surely you can do a caricature that doesn’t rely on racist stereotypes?
3. Woah, Herald Sun, you are extra. Chill. pic.twitter.com/PAvj2WGm8t