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For Ruben L. Oppenheimer (1975) it all started with the ‘Donald Duck’ magazine from his youth. Over and over again he would draw the character of Donald Duck until it was perfect. In high school he would draw his teachers, which ‘earned’ him a spot as a cartoonist in the school newspaper. Even at that time it became clear to him that not everyone was equally open to the position of satire in our society: an entire issue of the newspaper was published without a frontpage, because Ruben’s cartoon found no mercy in the eyes of the school’s principal…

From ‘Donald Duck’ to school newspaper to established newspapers to social media: his cartoons commenting on the world around him have become a fixture in Dutch news. Ruben sees it as his mission to touch on the raw nerves of our society. He always tries to combine both heart and mind in his drawings. From his ground-breaking cartoon on the murder of Pim Fortuyn in 2002, to his Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the ‘Twin Towers’ [cartoon below, red.], to his more recent depiction of a well-known Dutch lawyer – which earned him a – victorious – lawsuit for libel: Ruben constantly ‘fights the powers that be’ and provides a counter balance.

What is the position of satire in our society today? Is it just there to play the court jester? Is it there to show us our world beyond the clichés? Or does it provide us with a mirror so that we can look at ourselves from a different angle? Is satire a part of the cure we are looking for?

‘If you can’t beat them, draw them!’


Robert Hoogenboom

TEDxMaastricht Communications