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Video clip synopsis – Cartoonist David Pope explains how an idea is developed into the day's cartoon.
Year of production - 2007
Duration - 1min 39sec
Tags - Interpretation, Learning Journey Satire, civics and citizenship, creativity, democracy, media, media and society, media influence, politics, satire, see all tags

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Developing Cartoon Themes

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About the Video Clip

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Talkback Classroom is a forum program run by the Education section of the National Museum of Australia. Each year, panels of three secondary students selected from schools Australia-wide interview leading decision makers on important current issues. The panels participate in a ‘learning journey’ (researching the issues and developing interview skills) to explore the issues and prepare for the forum.

In 2007 a forum on the topic of ‘Political Satire’ was held. The guests interviewed were John Safran, SBS TV/Triple J radio presenter and Canberra-based cartoonist David Pope. The interview panellists were ACT students Kirrily Howarth (Yr 12 St Francis Xavier College), Samantha Bobba (Yr 10 Lyneham High School) and Wil Francis (Yr 9 Belconnen High School). In preparation for the forum, students participated in a learning journey that involved interviewing Australian cartooning icon Bruce Petty and Joe Hockey, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing.

Background Information

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Australia has a rich political history. A significant part of this history is political satire; this allows society to see the ‘underbelly’ of the political process and to gain insights into governmental behaviour and decision making.

Political satire in Australia is most often seen in the form of cartoons or television programs. The first political cartoon published in an Australian newspaper appeared in 1835 in the Cornwall Chronicle in Launceston, Tasmania. Many of Australia’s major newspapers continue to feature political satire cartoons as part of their daily editorial. With the arrival of television in Australia, political satire soon moved into this medium in the form of shows such as The Mavis Bramston Show, The Games, The Glasshouse and The Chaser’s War on Everything.

Many contemporary topics are covered by political satirists. Climate change, terrorism, economics, the environment, elections and government ‘indiscretions’ are often targets for political satire. Often the satirists will interpret a topic in such a way that will expose the real substance of it, frequently allowing people to gain a better understanding of the topic and to be better informed. Political satire performs an important role in Australia’s democratic society; it is a potent device that can expand awareness of the matters that affect all Australians.

Classroom Activities

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Before You Watch

Working in pairs, compile a list of current affairs that are often the topics of political satire cartoons. Try to put the list into a rank order i.e. those topics most frequently seen in cartoon form at the top of the list and then the others in order of decreasing frequency. This exercise could be extended over a period of a few weeks; if it is, watch for any patterns that may emerge e.g. specific topics always at or near the top or topics moving quickly up and down the rankings.

While You Watch

Cartoonist David Pope refers to two methods he uses that help to give him ideas for topics.
* What are these methods?
* What effect do you think they might have on the ‘messages’ in the cartoons?
* What might be the advantages and disadvantages of these methods?

After You Watch

Choose a current topic and create a cartoon that interprets that topic. Consider how you might express the topic through the use of characterisations, setting, language and other cartooning elements. Your cartoon can be black and white or colour. Save any drafts that you create so that you can compare your cartoon development with others in your class.

Further Resources

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Go to National Museum of Australia Talkback Classroom website

National Museum of Australia ‘Behind the Lines’ Political Cartooning schools’ competition entries

Go to National Museum of Australia Civics and Citizenship studies units

Go to David Pope cartoons website