Thursday, July 17, 2008

Satire

This is a picture of the cover of the July 21st issue of New Yorker magazine.

It is supposed to be Barak Obama dressed as a Muslim giving his wife a knuckle touch. (I've heard some people call this a knuckle bump but I looked in a couple of sources and a knuckle bump appears to be different than a knuckle touch. The bump has something to do with cocaine apparently whereas the touch is a gesture of affirmation and celebration. And you all thought I was too old to know about popular culture - ha!) (Actually I've never ever given anyone a knuckle touch)

Michelle Obama is dressed to remind one of a young Angela Davis with an afro and an AK-47 slung over her shoulder. Angela Davis gained significant notoriety in the late 1960's and early 1970's in case someone might not know about her. Just suffice it to say that she is an iconic, very far left radical dissatisfied with the United States and willing to support organizations committed to radically changing the government of the United States.

The setting is apparently the White House and there is an American flag burning in the fireplace. Over the fireplace is a portrait of Osama bin Laden.

You have to admit those are pretty extreme symbols.

This is supposed to be satire according to the magazine. It is further explained that the cover is making fun of those who believe that Barak Obama is a Muslim and that Michelle Obama is a radical, anti-American activist.

Satire works when whatever is being communicated is so extreme that it is obviously incorrect. Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal is an often used example where Swift suggests the Irish can improve their economy by selling their children to rich Englishmen for food. Well, no one would sell children for food (or so the argument goes) so obviously Swift is making fun of the idea and at the same time he is highlighting the plight of the poor Irish and the callousness of the English.

The thing is that about 99.99% of people believe you shouldn't sell or eat children.

Now the problem with this cover is that somewhere around 35% of the voting population support Mr. Obama. They don't really care what he does or doesn't do they are going to support him. And another 35% are actively opposed to him and they don't care what he does or doesn't either because they are going to oppose him. So those who are for him look at that cover and think to themselves "how clever that is to poke fun at those stupid people who oppose Barak."

But those who oppose him look at the cover and think to themselves "yep those guys really are far left and he probably would burn a flag in the fireplace." Seriously they really don't think it is so far out of the realm of possibility that Obama would burn an American flag and they are pretty sure his wife is more like Angela Davis than Patti LaBelle. And they will mention Reverend Wright if pressed. Doesn't seem a stretch even to me that Reverend Wright would burn an American flag. Heck I think he probably would burn the entire White House.

That leaves about 30% of the people who supposedly are neutral or at least haven't made up their minds. (Do you really think it is that high?) So they might get the satire or maybe not. I say maybe not because if they haven't made up their minds or are really neutral; then, I have to at least wonder if they really get satire period?

After all one has to somewhat question why someone hasn't made up their mind about voting for either Obama or McCain. It's not like they are close on the major issues. They are opposites. Good grief. I don't really understand how anyone can be undecided. It's a choice between two guys. That's it - Obama or McCain. Just pick one.

Now the people at the New Yorker are supposed to be of above average intelligence. I mean they are using satire for goodness sake. And they are supposed to be more or less in favor of Barak.

Do you think they really thought this cover might help?

4 comments:

Lori1955 said...

Frankly I can't imagine either Obama or McCain supporters liking that cover. It just depicts too many controversial and emotional issues for a lot of people. Guess I'm not much for satire because I fail to see the humor in this one.

I too, do not understand the undecideds.

steflovesnonna said...

I like this post, this issue has consurned me for the past few days.

I really dislike this cover and I agree with everything you have said. I guess the main thing I would like to point out is the way people work in the media. They want to make money, end of story. Do they support Obama? Maybe yes maybe no. I dont think people should care what the magazine chooses to do, because like I said they all want to make money. So of course they are going to play off of the DUMB people in this world. They will do it because everyone lets them do it. I am a firm believer in the press, and in its importance, but i also believe in holding the press to a higher standard. This magazine was obviously going for a splash and well it made it, because here we are talking about it. They probably sold record number of copies too. From dumb pple who like that cover, to other people who wanted to read the article that apparently defends obama. They won this time, and I really hoped that the American people were smarter then that.

Anyways I hope you are well. Your blog always makes me think, but I sadly don't get to check in often. Take care Terry.

~Betsy said...

I think the press has too much influence in our politics and our wars. If the press were as embedded during WWII, we'd all be speaking German.

rilera said...

I'm not sure what I think of this cover, but I do know that it shocked me.

Betsy, I agree. The press had no business being embedded in this war. Do you think it was a ploy by the administration to get public opinion on their side?