Monday, July 14, 2008

What's All the Fuss About?

(Click on picture for a much bigger version.)

OK, it's confirmed. This is the cover art for the next edition of the New Yorker magazine. Aravosis went nuts over this last night and blogger reactions to it have been pretty varied, with slightly more than half being condemnatory.

It ought to be noted that the Obama campaign has already condemned the cover art as "as tasteless and offensive."

OK, I think a bit of perspective is in order here, people.

First of all, this is overarching, over-the-top, withering satire aimed at the right wing smear machine that has advanced these very same despicable lies and distortions that's ever been aimed at Sen. Obama and his wife Michelle. In fact, some day in the near future (I hope), we will look back at the Obamas' own "high-tech lynching" in the MSM in the same light as we now do the Willie Horton case and Nixon's Southern Strategy.

Sometimes satire doesn't need to be subtle to be effective. Sometimes, being too subtle will make others mistake your satire for a serious statement (Machiavelli's The Prince springs to mind). Crudes lies and distortions beget (ideally) crude satire, fighting fire with fire, if you will.

Now, bloggers and journalists have been all in a lather over the possibility of this cover further feeding into these fevered, paranoid right wing fantasies about the Obamas. But is that more or less of a statement on the general feeble-mindedness of the American people (especially right wingers who stubbornly support McCain in spite of his own feeble-mindedness in matters in which he's regarded as being strongest, which is in international and military policies.)?

Sometimes satire ought to be looked at in the spirit in which it's intended, its message ought to remain unclogged and unclotted with pseudo-intellectualizing on blogs.

In one of the most intelligent and enlightening scenes ever captured on film, Al Pacino Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce in Lenny is doing his act in a night club. He starts throwing around the word "nigger" and you see cutaways of an African American man in the audience, his face hardened in anger as Bruce continues using the word.

Eventually, Bruce makes his point clear: We ought to take these offensive words, racial epithets and curse words, and drag them out kicking and screaming into the light of day if we're to rob them of their power. Words only have as much power as we're willing to give them. The same goes for lies and distortions in the MSM.

Again, I give you Mr. Aravosis:
And yet again, you'd never see them try anything like this with John McCain. God forbid you even ask a question about John McCain's experience, the media will destroy you. But paint Obama and his wife as America-hating flag-burning violent terrorists, and it's funny.

Once again, I do not think that the New Yorker's intent was to be funny as much as revelatory. I think this is their way of saying, "Enough is enough!" Plus, I don't see how Wesley Clark saying John McCain getting shot down over Hanoi wasn't a qualification to be president makes for a fair analogy here. Gen. Clark was being factual. These lies that have been told about the Obama, the fist bump, the Muslim dress he wore in Kenya in 2006, him hating America, Michelle Obama being some Afro-American radical is certainly not the same thing as Gen. Clark bringing up a screamingly obvious fact.

And, really, would this be any different than a cover we'd see on the conservative Weekly Standard reflecting what we've been saying about McCain? Suppose we were to see a caricature of John McCain on a jet setting fire to the USS Forrestal, a flag of Panama proudly flapping from the jet. Whatever lies have been told about Barack Obama, lies and distortions, too, have been advanced about McCain. Both candidates have grave weaknesses and make thinking voters jittery about their qualifications to lead this country.

I say we focus on those very real weaknesses as well as their strengths and put these ridiculous lies to rest once and for all.


At July 14, 2008 at 11:12 AM, Blogger Bob Kincaid said...

Well, thank Dog, JP. I was beginning to think I was the last man in America with a sense of satire.

I guess a lot of people are hyper-sensitized right now, to the point of being as touchy as a brand new case of poison ivy.

Maybe the way to have done this would've been to have drawn a tiny picture of a redneck talking to another redneck with this cartoon inside the dialogue balloon.

"Subtle" is lost on all of us these days, I guess.

Still, if no one else will do it, I intend to hammer McCain about this whose-team's-names-did-I-give-to-the-commies NFL b/s that McCain pulled. America had a six-week, purple-polka-dotted, blue-screamin'-hissy over Hillary and sniper fire, but John McCain gets a pass on lying about his favorite NFL team? Not in my book. Nope.

P.S. JP, it was creepy while you were disappeared. I was afraid the RepigliZombies had done come and gotcha.

At July 14, 2008 at 11:21 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

small, stupid, picky point.

in bob fosse's lenny, lenny was played by dustin hoffman.

valerie perrine was honey.

sometimes i think that the reaction time is so primed for reaction that they miss the fucking joke. i'm certain that they are locked, cocked and loaded for the inevitable assaults to come after the convention.

over reaction? yup.
understandable? yeah.

At July 14, 2008 at 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob is right when he says that "subtle is lost on all of us these days". That's why the misinterpretation of the cover carries a risk of perpetuating myths about Obama's religious beliefs or his patriotism. This thing will circulate on the intertubes and end up as part of another mass rumor mill.


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