arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, July 14, 2008

When Satire Turns Bad

The New Yorker magazine is kicking up some controversy – not to mention lots of free publicity – this week with the cover of their newest issue. The cover is a drawing portraying the Obamas in the Oval Office. Michele Obama is pictured wearing militant garb with an automatic machine gun slung over her shoulder, and Barack himself is clothed in traditional Muslim dress. They are shown smiling as they give each other the “terrorist knuckle bump”. An American flag is shown burning in the fireplace behind them, and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hangs over the fireplace.

Gee, Mr. Wizard! When did the Fox News Network take over The New Yorker?

Obama supporters are outraged. The magazine is claiming that it is a satirical drawing directed at Obama’s critics. Satire maybe, but I’m a bit skeptical about the direction that their politically incorrect arrow is pointing.

I don’t know how this will play out – magazines pulled, editors hung in Rockefeller Center would be too much to hope for – but this should be a lesson to all of us about the trickiness of satire. It is meant to be an exaggeration of real situations that thinly cover a grain of truth. Unfortunately, the cover can be breeched very easily. Many people may see this drawing as a realistic depiction of Barack Obama’s attitudes.

However, I’m not discussing Rush Limbaugh’s core audience, but rather the dangers of satire being misinterpreted. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I have used it quite a bit in my blog entries on the Bush administration. I have reread many of these entries and still feel that my words are potent without being fatal. Then again, there are other entries which even make me wonder what the hell got up my cranky butt!

My aim has always been to make comments about certain topics that will, I hope, make people think about the subject. I never intend to harm anyone’s life or reputation, but I can see where my writings could be taken the wrong way. This is always the risk of such pointed humor, and the burden of interpretation is always on the side of the reader, not the author.

Having said this, I feel compelled to offer my cheap shot idea to The New Yorker for future covers. Hey editors, how about a caricature of George W. wearing shorts and a beanie cap, hunched over his toy soldiers and oil wells on the floor of a typical Norman Rockwell-type American living room. Meanwhile, a beaming Dick Cheney, grasping a Wall Street Journal in his pudgy paws, watches him from his easy chair in front of a roaring fire that is burning the last remnants of the U.S. Constitution. There, that’s satire!

Or how about these statements: classic screen comedies like “Duck Soup” and “MASH” show the idiocy of war. Actually, they were just kidding, for we all know that in many cultures war is a cherished institution that can be used to acquire territory and wealth, satisfy long term goals of power and glory for many, and trim the world’s population. Okay, I’ll lay a challenge to you, my dear readers. One of those first two sentences in this paragraph is a statement, and the other is a very tongue-in-cheek, extremely politically incorrect attempt at satire. Can you interpret these sentences correctly? Please leave your comment at the sound of the beep. <beep>

Good luck, and I know you will choose wisely and not even think about purchasing The New Yorker.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Malloy said...

The only reason that this Mr. & Mrs. Obama satire DOES have impact — and may very likely spread — is because like all good satire, or good humor for that matter, there’s more than a germ of truth in it. Otherwise, the satire would utterly roll off the Obamoids’ backs, having no impact.

July 15, 2008 at 1:55 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

I agree with your point about humor/satire, but I can't figure out what truth might be found in the picture. Perhaps the fact that Obama has a Muslin ancestry, but beyond that I can't think of anything that could be considered as having a "germ of truth." I should admit here that I, like many other Americans, don't know everything there is to know about Barack Obama...or John McCain for that matter.

Thanks for your comment, malloy!

July 16, 2008 at 8:58 PM  

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