Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My 2 cents on the New Yorker cover

I got it in the mail on Monday. At first I gasped. Next I thought, well, this won't help. Then I saw a flag burning in the fireplace. And it was that extra over the top detail, (and I just discovered the portrait of a Mullah and the fact that this is taking place in the Oval Office) that made me see the cover in the provocative, satirical light that the magazine intended. Of course, I knew immediately it was meant to be satirical. This is The New Yorker, not the NY Post.
It is interesting that the Obama and McCain campaigns are saying that the cover is offensive. Well, that is exactly the point. The cover just illustrates people's fears and prejudices about the candidate and his wife. What is offensive is that so many people perceive the Obamas like that. The cover just paints quite literally, albeit painfully, the absurdity of such notions. Satire can be brutal, but it speaks the truth. In this case the truth is not that Obama is a Muslim and a flag burner and his wife is Angela Davis, but that this is how a lot of people see him, unfairly, with prejudice and malice.
I will enjoy the shitstorm, in the meantime. Once in a while they run covers that push the envelope and create little shitstorms, like the Art Spiegelman cover a few years back of a Hasidic man and an Arab man kissing (if I remember correctly). It took guts to run this cover, which helps to open up the debate about these issues. It is understandable, though a pity, that the Obama campaign responded the way it did. I'm sure the candidate gets it, but the problem is that most of America doesn't.

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