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Monday, August 11, 2008

A Satire of Satire?
The New Yorker Obama Cover:
"A Tough Cell..."

(I know it's late, but I had this class, and um, it took up so much of my time, and um...well better late than never)

The cover of the July Issue of the New Yorker features a cornucopia of fear mongering and hatred disguised as high brow satire. While it may be obvious to the intellectually gifted that this cover is a nonverbal social commentary regarding the egregious tactics of fear mongering propagated by the most openly simpleminded and bigoted of all Obama antagonists, I am left wondering if the population of people who "get it" is great enough to actually make this work of satire effective. In other words, if I don't get the punchline, do we question the comedic merit of the joke itself, or do we instead question the talent of the comedian?

The cover itself is the manifestation of some Americans worst fears - that Barack Obama, which rhymes with Osama (as in Bin Ladin), MUST be (by the stringent laws and logic of meter) working for Al Queda to deliver the United States into the hands of radical Islam followers with the help of his radical (she never wears her hijab) militant (she initiated the fist bump of cultural division) wife Michelle.

Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to get the unrealistic, over the top sarcastic tone of my last sentence - and that is why the comedy of that sentence actually works. To be effective, sarcasm, wit, and satire, must be recognizable to the audience - without explanation; and herein lay the problem with the New Yorker Cover, it is perhaps too subtle in its attempt to chide. It is so subtle in fact, that I am unsure if the layman American citizen, the one who doesn't read Politico or Huffington post, would understand the purpose of the cover at all. In fact, I would have to question whether those people would be more subtly influenced by the "what if he is a terrorist" connotations rather than the alternative.

It is perhaps true, that the readers of the New Yorker will likely understand the use of satire by the artist to make pointed social commentary, however, a cover is more than just a pretty piece of packaging. A cover is what catches the eye of potential readers and the population of potential readers is infinitely greater than those may actually read the accompanying story. Therefore, one must question the amount of people who will see the cover and be totally oblivious to it's satirical purpose - and then further question whether having that rather large population of people see and ultimately misinterpret the cover can be seen as an act of reckless disregard bordering on slander.

Ineffective satire, whether it is billed as high brow comedy or not, is called sensationalism where I'm from. Perhaps the social importance of the piece may not have been as important as the shock value - which i've heard - is always good for circulation.

Anywhoo, I thought I'd add some video to make the point stick even further. More satire anyone? Like Election 2008 and everything else in life - you decide.

Social Angst reminds you to: Think critically and act purposefully!

Peace & Blessings people...
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