Freddy Gray

Is Steve Bell pastiching Nazi propaganda? Or plagiarising it? 

Is Steve Bell pastiching Nazi propaganda? Or plagiarising it? 
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My objection to Steve Bell, the Guardian cartoonist, is not that he is risqué. Nor is it that he’s rabidly anti-Tory. It’s that his cartoons are often unfunny to the point of being humourless. I’m not exactly his target audience, though, so I would say that. 

But a friend has pointed out that his drawing this week on the May-Russia story takes direct and obvious inspiration from Nazi propaganda: 

Steve Bell on May’s challenge to Putin over spy poisoning – cartoon https://t.co/KYzR5HuNzy

— Guardian Opinion (@guardianopinion) March 14, 2018

[caption id="attachment_10057942" align="aligncenter" width="365"]

An anti-communist poster from 1940[/caption]

Now, let’s not be all inverse-Owen Jones. Let’s try not to scream ‘offensive’ before we’ve understood the joke. Bell’s point here could be to satirise the Tory reaction to Putin as being similar to the Nazi attitude to the Bolsheviks  — hence the ‘over the top’ line, in which case it’s quite clever. 

But I think Bell might be trying to have it both ways. At any rate, he’s not worried about aping the art of the Third Reich. Given he has form when it comes to dancing close to the line on anti-semitism, you might expect him to be more careful. 

Written byFreddy Gray

Freddy Gray is deputy editor of The Spectator. He was formerly literary editor of The American Conservative.

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