Bob Eckstein’s cartoon has three distinct frames of reference — Halloween, the election, and the pandemic. Addressing all three is a challenge.
The woman who’s next in line for the voting booth is speaking. She’s also pointing with her left index finger, but at what? The skeleton? The man in the voting booth? Or is she just being emphatic?
My first caption refers to the threat of voter intimidation at the polls: “The decorations aren’t scary, but did you see the armed militiamen outside?”
My second suggests that Halloween decorations seem especially dark in the context of this year’s pandemic: “I could do without more references to death.”
Now let’s see how you did:
Many of you suggested that nothing could be more frightening than this election season or, more specifically, the prospect of another four years of Trump:
- “The debate—that was scary.”
- “The TV ads were more unsettling.”
- “MAGA hats are a lot scarier.”
- “Really? Isn’t it scary enough already?”
- “Even more terrifying is the potential outcome.”
- “The scariest part is the possible outcome.”
- “This isn’t as scary as the post-election pre-inauguration period.”
A similar entry has the woman regretting the ballot she cast (presumably for Trump, or maybe for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein) in 2016: “That’s excessive. I’m still haunted by my last vote.”
Another two entries have her addressing the skeleton:
- “You’re not as scary as the person I’m voting against.”
- “People much scarier than you tried to stop me from voting.”
A couple of you noted that the whole year, and not just the election season, has been terrifying:
- “You can’t scare me any more than 2020 already has.”
- “It’s 2020, nothing scares me.”
I’d like that second caption more if the comma were a period or a dash.
This next caption refers both to Halloween and the fact that many of us are praying that this year’s election result is better than the one in 2016: “No tricks this time. No tricks this time. No tricks this time.”
Some people consider this election a choice between a leader who could very well destroy us (by refusing to address the pandemic, climate change, Russia, etc.), and one who will raise taxes: “So now its death or taxes.”
A couple of you saw “trick or treat” as a metaphor for the choice between our current President and his opponent:
- “Trump has made the choice between trick or treat a lot easier this year.”
- “I still can’t believe that almost half the population will vote for Trick instead of Treat.”
I like the idea behind those two captions, but they’re too long.
Focusing on the fact that the skeleton is hanging by a string, several of you gave him a name that hearkens back to the 2000 election recount in Florida.
- “That better not be a hanging Chad.”
- “Oh look, a hanging Chad.”
- “Is that a hanging Chad?”
- “Is your name Chad?”
- “Hi Chad.”
Here’s another skeleton entry: “I’m done being scared of old, white men.”
And here are captions that focus on the pumpkin:
- “Is it legal to have the President’s head right outside the voting booth?”
- “That scowling orange thing reminds me of someone.”
Unless I’m reading too much into it, this concise entry is multilayered: “FDR was wrong about fear.” I think the idea is that if Trump wins another term, we’ll have a lot more to fear than fear itself.
Finally, here’s a caption that addresses Halloween and the man behind the curtain: “I think he came dressed as a voting booth.”
This week’s winning caption is appropriately political and has the woman fearlessly addressing the skeleton: “I’m done being scared of old, white men.”
Lawrence Wood has won The New Yorker’s Cartoon Caption Contest a record-setting seven times and been a finalist two other times. He has collaborated with New Yorker cartoonists Peter Kuper, Lila Ash, Felipe Galindo Gomez, and Harry Bliss (until Bliss tossed him aside, as anyone would, to collaborate with Steve Martin). Nine of his collaborations have appeared in The New Yorker, and one is included in the New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons.