Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cover story

There's quite a little firestorm that's been unleashed over The New Yorker magazine's cover illustration on the issue dated July 21, which depicts Barack Obama and his wife as though they are the insidious America-haters that some have ridiculously made them out to be.

I've been reading The New Yorker for 25 years. There are many wonderful periodicals and I try to read interesting stories from wherever I can online, but The New Yorker is the only one that I subscribe to and have for years. The writing is exceptional and the wit is brilliant. This particular cover, said Art Spiegelman -- a former New Yorker cartoonist himself who was commenting on an NPR broadcast this afternoon -- holds a mirror up to some of the rumors that are floating around out there so that we can see how outrageous they are. He's right.

There are some who worry that such a depiction may hurt Obama in the presidential campaign because some voters may believe that he and his wife want to destroy the country from the inside (as if that hasn't been happening for the past seven years anyway), but that is not The New Yorker's problem. We cannot and should not declare humor, satire and irony off limits because some Americans don't get it, and I am glad that The New Yorker felt no obligation to hold its tongue -- even though most of the readership is college-educated with incomes above $40,000, a group that is backing Obama big time.

If nothing else, the cover has initiated a discussion that shouldn't be shied away from: the right is trying to destroy Obama's candidacy with wild, baseless rumor and innuendo that should not be allowed to fester. I still believe, as a critic once wrote, that The New Yorker is "the best magazine in the world."


James said...

I agree mostly with your take on this, but I still feel that giving any ammo to Fox News, et al to further their ignorant claims on Barack and Michelle should be avoided. I can see them just posting the picture without any context as proof that "even the liberal media believes they are terrorists" or something stupid like that.

I think people in the US should be able to recognize and appreciate satire, but I wonder if this is too high an expectation.

The New Yorker is a great mag, but it is rather elitist for my tastes (especially their Talk of the Town section), which seems to think the world revolves around New York City. Or perhaps that is just my anti-Yankee bias translating into general anti-NYC sentiment? Regardless, with the conservative media defining Barack as a big time elitist, I can see this just re-enforcing the idea that elites are out of touch and make fun of the regular people.

Anonymous said...

Your missing one point, Barack Obama is an Elitist himself, so you must not be supporting him.
By the way when his wife said that" this is the first time that I'm proud of America", she should be targeted for words as such. Jimbo I know where you stand but facts are facts

Jimbo said...

How should Michelle Obama be "targeted"? And since when is it not OK to speak your mind freely in this country?

What is meant by "elitist"? Isn't George W. Bush -- son of a president, grandson of a senator, Yale graduate, and filled with oil money -- elitist by some definition? How about John McCain, whose wife was heir to a beer distributing fortune?

I'm an East Coast liberal who graduated from college. Does that make me elitist?

Anonymous said...

Point Jimbo is that we should not have a sitting President whose wife wasn't proud of America since this past year when her husband won the nomination.
@. Your right when you say she can say anything she wants and then again we can too. I will do everything I can to support McCain after all he gave his life to this country unlike Obama.