Frankly, this by-now notorious New Yorker cover is a bit baffling. One wonders what, if anything, David Remnick was thinking when he commissioned it other than: “this will stick it to him and raise a hornet’s nest of controversy.” One thing’s for sure–it was meant to make mischief more than a satiric point.
The problem is that the subject has been done to death. If, on the other hand, it had come out six months ago, then it would’ve had that frisson of shock and recognition that the best political cartooning has. But it’s moment passed. And all we can say is that the New Yorker has jumped the shark on this issue. If this were football, the referee would’ve thrown a white flag and called a 15 yard roughing the passer penalty against editor, David Remnick.
What new insight does this image bring to the issue of Michelle Obama’s alleged black nationalist/hate whitey bias and Barack Obama’s alleged Muslim heritage? Even more importantly where’s the humor or wit? Historically, the New Yorker has had more than its share of brilliant political cover art. But not this time. This one is a cheap shot. It’s sad that the New Yorker is getting notoriety and media buzz it doesn’t deserve. It piggy-backs onto an issue that has been sucked dry. It brings nothing new to the subject. A lost opportunity.
This statement by Remnick is entirely disingenuous:
Obviously I wouldn’t have run a cover just to get attention…
Of course he ran it just to get attention. Besides being what editors are supposed to do, he clearly knew when he ran it what the outcome would be in the political marketplace. If he didn’t, then he’s a dummy. And from what I’ve seen of him, he’s no dummy.
I can understand why the Obama campaign is incensed by it. It reminds the American electorate yet again of a fake issue raised by the Obamaphobic right. In effect, Remnick and Blitt are doing the Islamophobic right’s dirty work for them. The cover image is probably already featured in thousands of Republican blogs and websites. Those people are chortling with glee that the bastion of liberal media has made their point for them.
The worst thing is that John McCain gets to condemn this foolishness and look presidential by standing above the fray. Meanwhile, his staff is delighted with the ruckus the New Yorker has stirred up since it’s allowed them to score points and put Obama’s campaign back on the defensive.
Nice, new design, Richard.
I hadn’t time yet to read the article. But I am not so sure if you are correct here.
It needs careful thinking, but this story could be used for good ends by the Obama campaign. But it needs an Obama & Michelle laughing about it.
The majority of people–apart from the hawkish mindset, that created the rumor–will instinctively understand that this is far over the top. Maybe in this visual form, much more easily than when confronted with the special rumor contents.
If the timing had been right, it would have been a nice piece of parody. In a less sense-of-irony-challenged polity than the US, it probably would still have been understood as a piece of parody.
Marc Silverstein says
you know, the thing about satire is that it’s meant to generate precisely this sort of reacion. i mean, i’m sure there was something like a critic who said “pshaw, that Swift, he’s just saying outlandish things to sell books.”
of COURSE the NYer did this to generate attention. it would be fiscally irresponsible for the editor and publisher not to do this.
that does not, however, change the fact that the cover art LAMPOONS the cumulative slurs that have been directed at the Obamas since he became a legitimate contender. in that context, it was brilliantly done.
that people want some sort of context actually defeats the purpose. that’s the thing about satire – it’s difficult to do because it’s difficult to recognise.
Some may disagree, but I think The New Yorker is acting in the manner of a 5th columnist. I find the cartoon both funny and accurate in terms of the Reich Wing mischaracterization, but I don’t think that is either the effect it will have, and more sinisterly, the effect they were seeking. Sad, but true.
“All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be. But if, as in propaganda for sticking out a war, the aim is to influence a whole people, we must avoid excessive intellectual demands on our public, and too much caution cannot be exerted in this direction.”
“The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out.” ~ Adolph Hitler
The story of the now-famous new yorker cover is quite interesting, though naturally, the important points have been missed in all the discussion.
What the aggressive critiques of the cover are really saying is that we live in a country where huge numbers of people, indeed, a likely majority, are simply too stupid to appreciate an obvious parody, that is–they are incapable of separating fact from outlandish fantasy. That’s exactly why the Obama camp was furious with the cover–they assumed (quite rightly) that a sizable segment of their potential electoral base is essentially illiterate.
Why are we surprised to see such a population bring vermin like Bush to office, believing the transparent lies concerning Iraq and everything else?
What further horrors will democracy bring to this world? That’s the question we ought to be asking.
“I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.” ~ Boss Tweed