Sometimes a parody of “Where’s Waldo” works and sometimes it doesn’t. This weekend’s OC Weekly has a cover story about African-Americans in Orange County (or the lack of them) and the piece itself is a great story, well researched and well crafted. Read it. The cover art might shock you if you look closely.
The cover art features caricatures of all manner of residents of Orange County from surfers to desperate & augmented housewives to Taco vendors and Angels fans to Disneyland characters. But to the right of the lead “Waldo” character on the issue’s cover, you’ll see three Fullerton police officers beating a red haired and bearded man with nightsticks as the “Kelly Thomas” avatar bleeds profusely from the head. When we told a few Fullerton friends about the image, there were audible gasps of disbelief that the publication would use Thomas’ death as they did.
Not exactly an image that works with the story nor is in the best of taste, especially when the cover story has a sidebar on “anti-black stupidity.” At the very least, we think OC Weekly owes an apology to Ron Thomas and Kelly’s Army for using the brutal death of Thomas in a “humorous” fashion in a story that has nothing to do with Kelly Thomas’s death.
We’ve outreached to Ron Thomas for comment. And we emailed the piece’s author and editor-in-chief Gustavo Arellano for a comment on the image. Arellano writes:
“That’s funny, because we haven’t received a single complaint—just nothing but praise. Send those complainers my way!”
We’ll update this story as we receive updates.
Parody is protected speech even if the subject of the parody doesn’t get it. In this case, its poor taste at best and offensive at worst. If you don’t like the image, feel free to email Arellano directly or leave a comment below.