Cartoon critics Phil Witte and Rex Hesner look behind the gags to debate what makes a cartoon tick. This week our intrepid critics take a look at Zoom meetings.
Every so often a technology penetrates our society with astonishing speed. Galvanized by the coronavirus lockdown, millions downloaded and began using their first video-conferencing application, Zoom. Easy to install and use—even for novices—the Zoom phenomenon was off and running.
Most first-time users soon discovered they didn’t appreciate how drab they appeared on-screen. That sentiment grew during the Covid-19 restrictions as hair became unruly and personal grooming standards plunged. Drew Dernavich captures that feeling with a couple grown fusty in their social isolation.
Zoom’s “gallery view” presentation includes a panel dedicated to ourselves. It’s mesmerizing for many among us to observe our own behavior. Brooke Bourgeois shows us how some get carried away with this self-infatuation.
Video calls give us a voyeuristic view of colleagues working from home. A rather edgy example is provided by Natalie Dupille. The conference call attendees look aghast.
Others are more cognizant of their surroundings and make an effort to look professional. Of course, it’s what’s off-screen that’s fascinating. Shannon Wheeler takes that concept to its logical extreme.
With many now commuting from bedrooms-to-study in the morning, clothing choices have become almost bizarre. It seems everyone has a “Zoom shirt” close at hand for last-minute wardrobe changes. Mick Stevens has one man adopt the sartorial version of an ’80s mullet hairdo—business on top and party on the bottom.
Even Cinderella can relax her preparations for the big night—after all, it’s virtual. Her fairy godmother has kept up with the times in this cartoon by Brooke Bourgeois. The artist’s skill is on full display with the delicate rendering of the sparkling enchantment surrounding Cinderella.
The news is full of endearing cameos these days; dogs, cats, and children wander unbidden into Zoom meetings that their guardians are attempting to conduct. Working mothers, as shown in Dupille’s madcap morning scene, are juggling the impossible at home. Chaos swirls as work deadlines loom.
Even virtually, we imagine this young fellow’s palms are sweaty as he holds on to his date’s image. With great economy, Bourgeois recreates the universal high school prom elements. If our swain were unfortunate enough to have only the free version of Zoom, his date will abruptly end after 40 minutes.
Another time-honored tradition, the college graduation, has also been upended by the coronavirus. Undeterred, this young graduate will have his Zoom-assisted ceremony, as imagined by Dupille. The solid color washes in the gown and balloons enhance the graduate’s sweet smile.
As behaviors change, so do our maladies. Even sleeplessness is being re-shaped by the new technologies. Peter Kuper enumerates each Zoom panel so our insomniac can accurately count sheep in his vain attempt at repose.
Though it’s better than nothing, we’re all getting a little Zoomed-out. Work meetings are tiresome, telemedicine visits unfulfilling, and even virtual cocktail parties have lost their luster. Kieron Dwyer shows us where we’ll wind up.