Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Phantom Clowns: The Politics of Hillary

In the wake of my discussions of Phantom Clowns, Donald Trump, and clown headlines, it appears that Hillary Clinton is now in line with a none-to-subtle linking to an infamous clown, Cavity Sam.

On Tuesday, September 13, 2016, due to Clinton's 9/11 health incident, the New York Post has published a political cartoon headline entitled "Illary."

It is a direct use of the 1965 "skills game" Operation.

Wikipedia has this introduction to the game and its history:
Operation is a battery-operated game of physical skill that tests players' hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. The game's prototype was invented in 1964 by John Spinello, a University of Illinois industrial design student at the time, who sold his rights to the game to Milton Bradley for a sum of USD $500 and the promise of a job upon graduation. Initially produced by Milton Bradley in 1965, Operation is currently made by Hasbro, with an estimated franchise worth of USD $40 million.
The game is a variant on the old-fashioned electrified wire loop game popular at funfairs around the United States. It consists of an "operating table", lithographed with a comic likeness of a patient (nicknamed "Cavity Sam") with a large red lightbulb for his nose. In the surface are a number of openings, which reveal cavities filled with fictional and humorously named ailments made of plastic. The general gameplay requires players to remove these plastic ailments with a pair of tweezers without touching the edge of the cavity opening. Source.

"Cavity Sam" with his bright red nose is straight from the clown world of midways and carnivals.

A midway at a fair (commonly an American fair such as a county or state fair) is the location where carnival games, amusement rides, entertainment and fast-food booths cluster.
The term originated from the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1893. It was the first world's fair with an area for amusements which was strictly separated from the exhibition halls. This area, which was concentrated on the city's Midway Plaisance, included amusement rides (among them the original Ferris Wheel), belly dancers, balloon rides, and other attractions.
After the Exposition, the term midway came into use as a common noun in the United States and Canada to refer to the area for amusements at a county or state fair, circus, festival, or amusement park. Source.

The "Cavity Sam" character is merely a clown from a carnival transformed into a midway patient. 

Individuals attempting to duplicate the game as a Halloween costume use the red-clown-nose as part of their outfit.

The game has evolved, appeared in many editions, and been used for many meanings.

And used, in recent years, for political commentary.

But the New York Post was not the first to use Operation as a way to discuss Hillary Clinton.

Political cartoonist Ben Garrison did an earlier version of the Operation Skills Game cartoon with Hillary Clinton as the subject.

All uses of Operation link back to its "clown" origins, and in the year of the Phantom Clowns, this makes sense.

h/t to Drudge, Tom Mellett


Tom Mellett said...

And what about the operation that the game's inventor John Spinello needs but can't afford because he sold the rights to the game for $500 in 1964?

(Echoes the fate of Harvey Ball who sold the rights to the Smiley Face for $45 in 1963.)

This article about John Spinello is 2 years old

Tom Mellett said...

As long as we are on the subject of clowns and health care, let us note the positive value of clowns in medicine as exemplified by Dr. Patch Adams and his Gesundheit! institute


Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams (born May 28, 1945) is an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown, and author. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute in 1971. Each year he organizes a group of volunteers from around the world to travel to various countries where they dress as clowns in an effort to bring humor to orphans, patients, and other people.

Le Gallinacé said...

Très drôle ! Lüstig...Comico e buffo...

little dynamo said...

I like that you work both sides of the aisle with the political stuff.

Tom Mellett said...


What do you foresee for this coming Halloween, which occurs just a week before Election Day? A Disharmonic Convergence if there ever was one!