Main | Sunday, July 13, 2008

New Yorker Magazine's Obamas-As-Terrorists Cover: Sharp Satire Or Offensive?

The cover story of the current issue of New Yorker delves into Barack Obama's rise from an unknown lawyer to a powerful Chicago politician, but it's cartoonist Barry Blitt's satirical artwork on that cover has got people screaming.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton: “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”

The McCain campaign agrees. McCain spokesman Tucker Bound: “We completely agree with the Obama campaign, it’s tasteless and offensive.”

New Yorker's explanation: “On the cover of the July 21, 2008, issue of the The New Yorker, in ‘The Politics of Fear,’ artist Barry Blitt satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign.”

Barry Blitt defends himself: "I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is."

Aside from the fact that the cartoon doesn't have anything to do with the actual story in the magazine, satirically depicting Michelle Obama as Angela Davis and Barack as a flag burning Bin Laden disciple is a blunt joke that will be lost on the knuckle-draggers of America, most of whom fervently believe what this cartoon depicts. New Yorker has conveniently provided what will doubtlessly become the most widely-used Obama image on wingnut blogs and a popular user avatar for right-wing internet forums.

That said, the cartoon is rather funny in a "Ain't the right stupid?" kind of way, and I'm not down with the already blossoming calls for New Yorker readers to cancel their subscriptions. But I do agree with ABC's Jake Tapper:
Intent factors into these matters, of course, but no Upper East Side liberal -- no matter how superior they feel their intellect is -- should assume that just because they're mocking such ridiculousness, the illustration won't feed into the same beast in emails and other media. It's a recruitment poster for the right-wing.

Labels: , , , ,

comments powered by Disqus