Where's the Line?

Posted by Prince Gomolvilas
ON Monday, July 14, 2008
Did you see the newest cover of The New Yorker? It a supposedly satirical drawing of Barack and Michelle Obama, meant to call attention to the awful stereotypes and misconceptions hurled at them by Obama critics and haters.

I just don't know about this, folks. I mean, I get it, okay? I understand satire. I use it as a writing tool often. But this just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Does satire have no boundaries? Where's the line between satirizing stereotypes and misconceptions and perpetuating them? Since The New Yorker can easily catch your eye while walking past a magazine stand, the cover can easily be interpreted out of context, especially on an insidious subconscious level.

I'm not Obama's biggest fan or anything, but really, folks. This is ridiculous.

The full story is here.
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  1. Peter Varvel Said,

    I was discouraged by a youtube clip of democrats who said that they would rather vote for a republican candidate, rather than see a black man be elected to office - reason enough, to me, not to even get near any of these lines.


  2. William Said,

    I think the cover is gimmicky and intended to generate some publicity for a (struggling?) magazine. I don't really see the artistic/ journalistic point of publicizing a distorted conception of Obama that usually only circulates among crazy, racist, right-wing Christians (not The New Yorker's usual readership). Then again, maybe I'm out of touch and the anti-Islamic paranoia surrounding Obama has become so mainstream that The New Yorker needs to address it. Still, it really seems out of place for a magazine with a presumptively educated readership.


  3. Hi, William, thanks for your thoughts. More thoughts:

    The New Yorker knew better than to have a cover with the Obamas eating watermelon or fried chicken or some crap like that--but isn't what they did pretty much the same type of thing?


  4. michael_karo Said,

    some guy on anderson cooper (hmm, now THERE'S an image!) just said the depiction of mrs. obama brought to mind patty hearst! i would think the obvious reference point would be angela davis, yes?

    I'D like to be on anderson cooper....just for an hour.


  5. Tacky Said,

    I have to agree. I love the New Yorker abundantly, but it ratifies as a substantive issue whatever it puts on the cover - and this couldn't possibly be a substantive issue; it's just more distractive fluff, and very few people buy into it anyway. Or maybe I just have my head in the sand re: how psychotic this country has become.


  6. Bill Said,

    Chill out. Everyone is overreacting to this. I fully support the New yorker on this one. If we cant satirize this just go put your flag pin back on and ask me to sign your petition for the anti flag burning amendment.


  7. William Said,

    Bill, that's a very poor argument. I haven't seen any rhetoric on this site that isn't "chill" with respect to that cover. The criticisms have been quite level-headed. And your analogy is not on point at all: criticizing The New Yorker for its choice of cover art is not the equivalent of supporting anti-flag-burning laws. I haven't heard anyone argue that The New Yorker should legally be prohibited from publishing racist iconography. Legally, they can print almost any cover they choose, but that doesn't mean people who are offended can't or shouldn't criticize it. And just because you can apply the word "satire" to it does not mean that people have to accept it passively or uncritically. If that were true, then all satirists would be free from criticism for the ideas they express through satire. Sounds like a) you weren't offended; and b) you don't like it when other people say they were offended. Honestly, that's your problem. Nobody needs your approval before they can have a particular emotional response to art.


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