News & Commentary, Visual Arts

Cartoonist’s #takedown goes behind the enemies’ lines

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Another day, another social media storm. The speed, brevity and simplicity with which scandals, protests and debates are dispatched on Twitter and Facebook often undercut the seriousness of the issues that prompted the digital outpourings of support or scorn.

Cartoonist David Blumenstein has taken a decidedly old-school approach to looking at the people embroiled in a public protest in his just published (in paperback) comic #takedown: My evening on a pier with pick-up artists and protesters.

Blumenstein followed the story of the “international pick-up artist (PUA)” Julien Blanc on his controversial tour of Australia last November and so signed up for a free seminar with “International Pick-up artist (PUA) Instructor Julien Blanc”. Blumenstein found himself witness to anti-PUA campaign launched organised by protestors who had rallied under the social media banner #takedownjulienblanc.

In the comic book  — of which a few pages are reproduced below — Blumenstein draws those involved in the protest at Melbourne’s St Kilda Pier as a volatile mix of protestors and wannabe pick-up dudes waited for Blanc.

According to the comic book’s publisher Pikitia Press, the comic is a “playfully drawn true account of one evening introduces you to the people on both sides of the protest line”.

David Blumenstein is an award-winning cartoonist who has drawn comics for Guardian Australia, Crikey, Junkee and Australian MAD Magazine. He and his cartoonist wife, Sarah, are co-founders of Squishface Studio, an open comic artists’ studio in Brunswick in Melbourne.



3 responses to “Cartoonist’s #takedown goes behind the enemies’ lines

  1. Great insights. Julien Blanc reminded many of us of an extreme version of ourselves when we first started trying to “score”. He obviously went way overboard, and having a Japanese wife, I was particularly offended when I saw the scene in Japan when he took advantage of the lack of assertiveness (and increased permissiveness given to Westerners) in Tokyo. I was also offended by his how he seemed to be so open about undermining self-esteem, so as to increase the chances of his ‘victims’ being compliant.

    But the protests directed towards him also seemed a bit over-the-top. People of all persuasions have always used a whole range of ‘strategies’ and tricks to try to score, some of them involving alcohol-fuelled situations. Julien took this to extremes and had commercialised it, and I agree his activities needed to be reined in, but I’m not sure we can put him in the same category as a war criminal.

    There is a deeper issue here which I haven’t seen analysed. Everyone wants (and needs) sexual fulfilment, but the getting of it is getting increasingly competitive (with dating apps etc). When people can’t ‘get it’, some of them might engage in anti-social and even illegal behaviour, particularly if they have limited means to afford the commercial variety. I’m not justifying this behaviour for a second, but it might be worth analysing the following – how should (a digitally-enabled) society better ‘match up’ the sexual desires and needs of its entire population. A threshold issue might be many of us accepting that we aren’t exactly Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie (both in terms of physical attributes and their other apparent positive attributes) so the lowering of ‘standards’ (perhaps to focus more on personality, character and common interests) might be helpful.

    If we all get better at this, then maybe some of the anti-social stuff will go away by itself.

  2. Nobody, least of all the protest organisers (me and a couple of friends) put Blanc in the category of war criminal. We put him in the category of sexist jerk off who was making things WORSE for socially awkward guys by telling them that assault and manipulation would get them laid.

    1. Ginny, as a father of a young daughter, I sincerely hope there will always people like you calling out people like blanc, and other people like me should be as supportive of your efforts as possible. There will inevitably be differences in opinion about the best strategies for calling out, but that is very secondary to the need for an effective response of some kind in the first place. You and your fellow organizers made my 5 year old daughter’s future a little bit more optimistic, so for that I should really just be replacing all of my verbal twaddle with two simple words: Thank you

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