So the New Yorker has been getting some flack recently for a particular cover they did satirizing the false accusations against Barack Obama.
The image plays upon a lot of the things that have plagued obama over the past few months including accusations of him being a muslim, the fist bump with his wife (apparently a terrorist greeting...I always thought it was just something college kids did), and of course the ever present idea that he is somehow anti-american. In response both the Obama and McCain campaigns issued public condemnation on the New Yorker for I guess encouraging these negative images. So I suppose the thinking is as follows: most people are stupid, these people will see this cover, stupid people will not get the satire inherent, most people will therefor believe that this is a commentary on actual events on the part of the new yorker editorial staff. Now I don't claim to be the smartest guy in the world (OK, I have made that claim on a few occassions but not right now), but this cover seemed pretty clear to me. I can see why the campaign might be a little bit disappointed in it but at the same time to issue public condemnation is pretty lame. I think the real problem presented by this flare-up is not that the new yorker is going after barack or michelle obama, not that there are undertones of bigotry or racism, not even that the cartoon is in bad taste...its more that the cartoon is edging on that line of being too hard to interpret for the average person (in the opinion of the Obama and McCain campaigns). This of course suggests that these campaigns are counting on the votes of people who are less intelligent than me and, for that matter, anyone I know because I have yet to meet someone who interpreted this as anything different than I did, mainly SATIRE. Of course, the other problem is that many of the cartoons in the new yorker that are so lauded over, really are over the head of the average person (assuming you take my head as that of an average person). For instance the following cartoon appeared recently.
What does that even mean? Is this humor? Should I have laughed when I saw this? Is it social commentary on something I've never heard of. I would seriously encourage anyone to leave me their explanations of why this clearly elitist dribbel deserved to be published and what I as consumer should have gotten out of it. The New Yorker's humor pages, which they take great pride in, are absolutely useless. They far too often forget that if people don't get the joke...its not funny. That the fundamental requirement for writing, humor, and communication in general is that people understand. Language bogged down in obscure terminology or arcane references is not communication at all, rather it is boastful in its superiority to the desired reader. I believe that too many readers of the New Yorker are ashamed to admit that these things just don't make sense. Of course, after looking at the latest cover...I think I know why it all works out this way. For once, the magazine publishes a comic that is an effective satire of topical and familiar nation wide events...the response, public damnation. Go on New Yorker comic writers...keep on being obscure...its safer. Patrick OUT!!!
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