Streams

The Color of Satire

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The upcoming issue of the New Yorker that portrays Barack Obama as a terrorist has the media world buzzing. Onion web editor and political blogger Baratunde Thurston talks with New York comedian Jordan Carlos about the racial politics of lampoonery.

Guests:

Jordan Carlos and Baratunde Thurston

Comments [157]

Laurel Kellam from Manhattan

You asked for an Obama joke...here goes:

Now that Hilary is out of the race, I'm stuck between Barack and a hard place.

best I could do!

keep up the great work.

Jul. 18 2008 12:57 PM
m from NYC

The Problem is that there are many people that have no personal experience/relationships with African Americans. So this cover is confirming there worst fears. African Americans do not get the benefit of the doubt easily.

Jul. 17 2008 03:11 PM
eff

Judy@14: "With the title- The Politics of Fear- the cartoon is great satire."
Don't be coy. The title wasn't in the cover, which is all most will see.

Sure, it's all ironic, but this is more like the typical reaction:

Susan@16: "... I thought it was pretty funny ... All this brouhaha seems to revolve aroud the deification of Obama, and the instant branding of any questions about him as racist."

This was the most mealy-mouthed hit-job I've ever seen, and I was disappointed that Brian brought on those two young guests, who either had no insight or were too anxious about their own careers to speak freely.

Jul. 17 2008 12:35 AM
barbara l from manhattan

I listened today to the podcast. It was brilliant to get Art Spiegelman on the phone. What a great discussion. The vote in my home is 1 for, 1 against the cover, the "against" position being "this election is too important to take the risk that anyone would take the cover seriously." To which I reply, "Anyone who takes it seriously is already lost to us."
FAR more worthy of discussion is Ryan Lizza's article inside the magazine.

Jul. 16 2008 08:24 PM
wu

i'm sensing that obama and his supporters are being too sensitive/defensive. what they're doing is just trying to preserve his perfect image. that cartoon works perfectly fine with the title.

Jul. 15 2008 09:51 PM
zuwena from manhattan-Harlem

I cannot take issue with the fact that the magazine cover reflects “satire” as it is defined in the dictionary. But, one must not forget that old saw, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it” And, in this instance I believe that the New Yorker’s greatest sin is it’s failure to recognize the lack of sophistication in a major portion of the populace who will be exposed to this cover and the commentary that will come from an equally large group focused on negative distortion at all costs . For them, the cover will not be reflecting the absurdities, vices, and stupidities of satire rather, it will be seen and used as confirmation of the irrational thinking that they have been engaged in all along. For this, the New Yorker deserves all of the ill will that some people are feeling. For this kind of irresponsibility and the attendant inability to recognize or acknowledge its mistake it has lost me as the supporter and reader that I have been for a lengthy time of more years than I care to remember.

Jul. 15 2008 07:59 PM
eva

#148, love it.
listening to Bush today drawl, "the president don't have a magic wand!" in response to fuel prices, he sounded a bit too much like James Brown insisting "Papa's got a brand new bag!" W's accent is getting weirder and weirder. What to make of this administration? It's truly bizarre.
Tanya, every Republican I know is now walking around with his tail between his legs. Well, most of 'em. The ones who still have a sense of shame.

Jul. 15 2008 07:20 PM
tanya from ny

My republican neighbor handed me my magazine with glee, pointing at Obama. He said, "See? What did I tell you?". I was too shy to explain to him that it was satire and that he was the butt of the joke... we are neighbors after all.

Anyways- did anyone see the 3am phone call satire with which SNL opened its show all those months ago? I feel that it was very much the same thing and also very absurdist and funny- Obama chain-smoking and dropping the f word while on his desperate call to Hillary...

And finally- although my father, (raised in a different culture) agreed it was satire and that NYer readers were more likely to get it- he felt a man's religion is too sensitive to use in satire. Interesting point? Or a dangerous idea?

Jul. 15 2008 06:53 PM
BLsp from nyc

The previous comment was satire. And irony.

Jul. 15 2008 05:56 PM
BLsp from nyc

[[Sorry, Christopher, we had to remove your comment due to your complaining about WNYC giving gift subscriptions. Sorry, you've been censored and your comments have been removed. You too guy who spelled out sh*t on these pages. The asterisk does not help. You've been censored.]]

Jul. 15 2008 05:55 PM
Helen from qns

Maybe this is the right equation:
Liberals plus no longer able to see irony equals fascists.

Jul. 15 2008 05:54 PM
eva

thanks, hjs, I've been enjoying reading over your posts sporadically over the past month or so - I've come to think of you as the original true believer - and I mean that as a compliment.

Jul. 15 2008 04:34 PM
hjs from 11211

nice to see you again eva...

Jul. 15 2008 04:06 PM
eva

I don't want to sound insensitive (suddenly) but all the people griping about identity politics type issues - can we get a grip? I've said it before to Asians who complain about unfairness to Asians, and to gay people who think if you don't whole-heartedly support gay marriage as a CIVIL right then you are homophobic...
Look, to all these people, I would like to suggest that the urgency of our economic and environmental situation is kind of mind-blowing, so for a little while, say, until AFTER the election, can we stop calling everything "racist" and "homophobic"? The identity politics has really harmed the Democratic party, IMO. It's always been a bad strategy, esp. pre-November. Fact is, if the food shortage worsens, if the economy worsens, our problems are much bigger... in fact, our problems are ALREADY bigger.

Jul. 15 2008 04:00 PM
eva

I agree with hjs (#76, I think) and david (#80) - this is a non-issue and people should regain their sense of humor. Yes, even Barack should regain his sense of humor. His ability to laugh at himself, or at least to make jokes about the jokes being made about him, was one of his great assets.
Everyone should take a deep breath. And no, IMO, it's not racist. If you take a deep breath, it is kind of funny in its preposterousness, but not as funny as the Ahmadinajad cover that referenced toe-tapping in a bathroom stall. Now THAT was ridiculous, and funny. Blitt's flooded Oval Office drawing back during Katrina wasn't funny - it was just spot-on. (Note "during" Katrina - it's not as if the situation has been suddenly fixed. I guess I mean "in the aftermath of the giant fiasco that was FEMA's response to Katrina..."

Jul. 15 2008 03:56 PM
Jacob from Prospect Heights

The Black Holocaust aka the Maafa refers to the tens of millions of Africans and their descendants that died over nearly half a millennium of colonialism, slavery and unprovoked war waged by Europe/ the West. It also includes the systematic destruction of culture and identity and self worth of the surviving diaspora left by those people. It's real, it happened and for some reason it's never taught to us in school at anywhere near the depth that it should be.

Jul. 15 2008 03:01 PM
Kris from NY

I think this walks a very fine line. While I agree with #61. For example, I think it's one thing to portray George Bush as a cowboy with a star of Texas belt buckle, in cowboy boots, in a tall cowboy hat and talk about cowboy politics. For one things he WAS from Texas, he HAS worn cowboy hats and boots, and he IS definitely doing cowboy politics.

But what's really true about this picture? Obama is not a Muslim, he doesn't support Bin Laden, they have never burned a flag, and Michele has never appeared in an afro let alone look like a black panther. The only truth to this picture is the fist bump.

Granted there is a definition that says satire is "a work of literature that mocks social conventions, another work of art, or anything its AUTHOR thinks ridiculous". However, I think the pictue falls short without a caption or something to quickly let the reader know that it's the THOUGHT of what's protrayed that is ridculous.

Jul. 15 2008 02:24 PM
gene from westchester

I hope this cover hangs in the Oval Office in 2009.

Jul. 15 2008 12:55 PM
James from brooklyn

Califano is tha BOMB!
Please Jesse, more posts. Always enjoy your perspective on things. Classic. Total genius.

You'd love "the What".

Jul. 15 2008 12:39 PM
WL

Anyway, these attitude those two guests have is by their own admission pollyannish.

And if the problem is a supply and demand issue, why not increase the supply for crying out loud?

Jul. 15 2008 11:30 AM
hjs from 11211

maybe a simple caption "THIS IS JUST A JOKE"
would have helped

Jul. 15 2008 11:28 AM
Gus Wynn from Rockland

The legendary Underground cartoonist Robert Crumb found out a few years ago that the KKK was reproducing and distributing comics he'd made portraying over-the-top caricatures of blacks a la the "Sambo" imagery of years past.

Anyone with cursory knowledge of R. Crumb knew his "funnies", including characters like "Angelfood McSpade" were commenting on racism he'd witnessed growing up in a country with a racist streak - even Mickey Mouse cartoons showed blacks as big-lipped natives in the 20s. Crumb, one of the most thorough collectors of early African American music, regretted to an extent that his satire of racism was being celebrated by racists who clearly couldn't see below the surface.

I'd posted comments on Huffington Post earlier saying that the New Yorker cover should have identified the author of the Obama drawing somehow as a right wing tactician, but I heard Art Spiegelman say that kind of clarity would make the whole thing "stupid.

So I'd suggest instead, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that the image might have shown a hand drawing it. This, without showing who, at least suggests to viewers that these radical misportrayals are being manufactured by "someone".

Jul. 15 2008 11:13 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#98/Stephen. It's more than obvious why that cover was "ok" and passed without comment. It was 3:00AM (on topic becasue of Senator Clinton's campaign ads) and well... people tend to be in bed at three in the morning. Senator Clinton asked who you wanted to answer that 3:00AM call... Senator Obama thought it should be him and he's trying to beat her to the phone. Straightforward satire lampooning the primaries. If the New Yorker printed the title on the cover (however tiny) no one would have cared, everyone would have laughed, and this wouldn't have been news.

Jul. 15 2008 11:05 AM
John Prusinski from Warwick, NY

I was so relieved to hear Art Spiegelman come on and clarify the issue. I think it was a mistake to have your guests be people whose specialty is comedy, even if political comedy. People tend to see issues through the prism of their own expertise, the perfect example of which is how much of your discussion focused on whether the New Yorker cover succeeds as humor.

That point is entirely irrelevant! As Art said, political cartooning is a different animal from comedy; in a history of hundreds of years, the "funny" political cartoon is a rarity. Political cartoons are intended to be thought provoking, to help clarify an issue, or to bring to the surface a current which is primarily confined to a "whisper campaign". By those criteria, the New Yorker cover was resoundingly successful.

As a side note, I found the most disappointing part of this whole saga to be the reaction of the Obama campaign. As an organization which publicly prides itself on talking to its audience as though they were adults (see his speech on race), I thought their response to this issue markedly childish. If they were going to respond at all, they really should have said something like "Although we find the imagery disturbing, we appreciate the thoughtfulness behind trying to bring the issue of false characterizations of this candidate into the public discourse".

Jul. 15 2008 11:03 AM
hjs from 11211

yep, looks like it's BHO race to lose. never thought i would see the day. not to diss BHO but the GOP is really having a major melt down. maybe bush will be the best president ever if history shows he destroyed the GOP.

Jul. 15 2008 11:02 AM
chris o from new york city

yes hjs and Black and White,
it is all obama all the time; no one care about McCain; even segments on McCain on this show are all about Obama on the message board;

Even though this is somewhat unfair and in some ways can be negative, in others it is positive; it is almost a fait accompli that he is Prez; he just has to be almost perfect from now until November, that's all.

Jul. 15 2008 10:56 AM
hjs from 11211

true mccain is not getting the same attention but that's cause mccain is one boring snore!

Jul. 15 2008 10:51 AM
oya from Harlem, New York

As much as I appreciate Spiegelman's work, I am a little sorry he was brought into the conversation because he is too close to the New Yorker. He said he didn't like equating the image with satire, seemingly completely ignoring that this was the New Yorker's explanation.

I totally agree with #21 and like the analogy with the Goldberg/Danson skit. But it fails because of the insular world of the New Yorker which too often assumes that we are all in on their joke and forgets there is a wider world out there. Thus the cartoon left out any hint of who was supposed to be "seeing" this image and thus one would only assume that it wasn't a reproduction of racism because one is supposed to have faith in the New Yorker's politics--Hah!

Visual images, unlike jokes or writing or comedy sketches are much more vulnerable to being mere reproductions of racism than satires of it.

But to be totally honest, I was less offended by this than by the magazine cover with Clinton and Obama in bed fighting to get to the red phone, which completely bought into American fears of miscegenation.

Jul. 15 2008 10:50 AM
Peter from Garden City

Obama is a big fat crybaby. Waahhhhhhh! By virtue of the fact that the image was on the cover of New Yorker, I think even the most stilted yokel could probably tell the image was satire. Funny? Not terribly. Racist? Not even close. It was entirely specific to Obama. As far as I could see, there was nothing at all denegrating towards blacks.

As far as who created these stereotypes of Obama and his wife, you and your guests appear to have fairly short term memories. Stop blaming everything on the right. Virtually all of those images were put forth by the Clinton primary campaign; the New Yorker actually forgot to include the crack pipe, which was another Clinton campaign low blow.

Jul. 15 2008 10:50 AM
Diego

Trying to explain or talking too much about this is totally unnecessary. Just let the image speak by itself and you'll see the effect that it will have on American people.

Jul. 15 2008 10:47 AM
Steve from NYC

#121, I couldn't agree more!!!

Jul. 15 2008 10:47 AM
Dat Vader

All the media personalities, including Brian and Leonard, are infatuated about talking about politics and media-about-media as opposed to about issues. There are more headlines about misinformation and what the media is doing as opposed to stories about the real issues. Even issue orientated conversations degrade into this, and often it's the host that fanning the flames.

Regarding the New Yorker, sure it's satire but when they defend their right to satire they talk as if satire is innocent, purely objective and non-influential. When you put something on a major magazine cover, you're influencing the conversation, whether it's supposed to be funny or not. You risk further imprinting the misinformation into people's minds or are keeping the focus on media-about-media and the tactics of politics rather than furthering any real debate about any critical issues out there that need real attention.

Jul. 15 2008 10:46 AM
RCTNYC from Manhattan

"A Modest Proposal" isn't funny, nor is "Gulliver's Travels" or "Animal Farm." Satire does not have to be funny.

Jul. 15 2008 10:45 AM
michael coffey from NYC

I can see how this cover might have worked: If Art Spiegelman were correct that the terrorist/muslim rumors were "whispers beneath the surface," as he said, then the cartoon would have done the political culture a service by having us talk about it. But none of this has been whispered; it is not beneath the surface. It is all over. In which case, the cartoon merely amplifies the volume of ludicrous opinions. What kind of contribution is that?

Jul. 15 2008 10:44 AM
Rob L from NYC

Satire (from dictionary.com)
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.

I don't think it has to be funny to be satire.

Jul. 15 2008 10:41 AM
Black and White from Brooklyn

The Brian Show goes out of it's way to marginalize Obama, just about every day it has a segment on some negative aspect of Obama!

Yet almost nothing about Mcain!

We know who Brian wanted to win in the democratic primaries don't we!

Jul. 15 2008 10:41 AM
chris o from new york city

If you read and participate in the active message board, then you can miss a lot of the what the guests are saying. I guess that was a good thing in the last segment.

Jul. 15 2008 10:40 AM
jade from ny

Thank God for Art Spiegelman!!

These hipsters are idiots. That you have to laugh for something to be of value? That there should've been a thought balloon? How stupid that would make the image! That no one likes the New Yorker. Take your asses back to Williamsburg.

Shame on you Brian, for putting together a segment with only the two of them as guests.

Jul. 15 2008 10:40 AM
Dominique from Bronx

Satire has always had the potential of being offensive. (Sorry sarcastic liberal white guys. I know this hurts your hearts) The cover is basically saying "people think that Michelle Obama is an afro wearing "angry black woman" and Barack is a "secret Muslim" but OF COURSE they aren't these thing". But my question is: what's wrong with being a black women with an Afro and what's wrong with being Muslim? For me this image implies that we must fight against these images instead of fighting against the anti-black female/anti-Muslim culture this election is unveiling.

Jul. 15 2008 10:39 AM
Pat from nyc

Mrs. Obama had a gun in her hand!!!

It is so wrong and destructive to portray her as a killer!!! This is not comparablre to showing Bush floating in the water in the oval office.

First of all, he WAS responsible for the suffering in New Orleans, and Michele is not responsible for killing anyone.

Secondly, the satire on Bush was true, and on the Obams, the satire was not true.

Jul. 15 2008 10:39 AM
Jason from Ny,NY

Brian (and staff), this segment is why your show is one of the best on radio (or any medium). Art Spiegelman impromptu?! Perfect. Insightful. Thoughtprovoking. Thank you.

Jul. 15 2008 10:39 AM
susy from manhattan.

One of the great things about the USA is that we can publish what we want.

This totally pushes the envelope. Cartoons don't have to be funny-- in art history, 'cartoon' is also a term used for sketch, or even grotesque or characature.

Jul. 15 2008 10:39 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Comment #8 makes a good point. I think this talk about the country being too "stupid" to "get" it is patronizing, which is an attitude that causes liberals to lose elections.

The controversy made me go out and buy the New Yorker.

Jul. 15 2008 10:38 AM
chris o from new york city

Sorry, Susan, I confused you with someone else, as I previously mentioned I may have been doing. I think you misunderstood my post.

I was simply saying, IF you were the lifelong Dem who hated Obama AND you like the cartoon, then maybe the CARTOON is a problem. But clearly you are NOT the lifelong always Dem voting person, so never mind.

Jul. 15 2008 10:38 AM
David from New York

I found the cartoon offensive but how is this different (outside of the scale of response) from the attempts of Muslims to suppress the Danish cartoons?

Jul. 15 2008 10:37 AM
karen from Village

gosh never talk to "comedians" about comedy

it's so damn unfunny

Jul. 15 2008 10:37 AM
CB

Thank you, Art Spiegelman, for stepping in and saving Brian's show from his two lame guests.

Jul. 15 2008 10:36 AM
David from East Village

#99 - I was about to write that. He's turning over in his grave.

Jul. 15 2008 10:35 AM
KC from NYC

Right on, Art!

And why are these guests complaining about having to THINK?

Jul. 15 2008 10:35 AM
karen from Village

what's interesting is that "progressives" and the obama cmapaign are all wound up about Obama being identified as a Muslim - as if being part of that faith tradition is so horrific

"progressives" are just as much phonies and hypocrites as the Christians and Republicans they nastily attack without any limits of taste or ethics

i'll respect "progressives" when they believe in the human rights and dignity of ALL people - not just the prisoners in Abu Graib - but white male Republicans etc...

"progressives" get so wound up about the NYer cover - even though it's obviously coming from a bias pro-Obama standpoint...

how phony & dishonest - how sad

Jul. 15 2008 10:35 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

Jesse Califano- 'The unspoken word. . . -written, . . .and joked about!'
-----------------------------------

OK- I give up... no more political jokes about Negros- just Caucasians!

Jul. 15 2008 10:34 AM
RCTNYC from Manhattan

It's satirical, but misses the mark and is not funny. Not funny, because these false rumors and ridiculous beliefs about Obama are believed by many people. The cover reiterates the smears rather than debunks them.

Would a cartoon depicting a lynching be funny? The rumors about Obama are meant to destroy him. I don't think that those rumors are amusing and think that the cover is superficial in that it misses the real point and real danger of the lies that it attempts to satrize.

I'm a New Yorker subscriber and love that magazine; this was a rare goof.

Jul. 15 2008 10:34 AM
Rose from and SRO in Chelsea

Come on the NY'er isn't THAT snooty, after all, I enjoy it. The cover is a miss, simply because it needs it's caption, which of course no one who will take it out of that context, will use. the title is "the Politics of Fear". Yes it's poking fun at the nuts who keep peddling the mis-info about Obama, but they won't get that, they'll just see the image. PLUS, it's just old at this point, I don't get why they thought this was the most relevant issue to poke fun at.

Jul. 15 2008 10:33 AM
howard gold from Long Island

"the medium is the messgae", or at least shapes the message. If this cover were a poster in Mad Magazine it would be wholly ignored by pundits and snickered at by lovers of satire.

Jul. 15 2008 10:33 AM
Serena from NYC

Thanks for putting on Art Spiegelman!

Jul. 15 2008 10:32 AM
KC from NYC

This segment is kind of full of misinterpretations. The New Yorker cover rarely relates to a specific article inside the magazine, and it's odd to complain that it doesn't. Generally, they nail a certain element of the zeitgeist, and they're often pretty damn impressive (remember Bin Laden as a department store Santa? Non-ironically fantastic). Good for them for continually pushing the envelope; promoters of the status quo are always happy to complain when someone does something genuinely interesting.

Jul. 15 2008 10:31 AM
chris o from new york city

#88, I'm with you, Cody.

Jul. 15 2008 10:31 AM
Serena from NYC

These guests are really annoying and sound stupid. I miss George Carlin.

Jul. 15 2008 10:30 AM
Stephen

brian, will you address the new yorker cover from several months ago that had barack and hillary in bed together, and barack was reaching over hillary to answer a red phone? how was that okay, but this cover is being attacked?

Jul. 15 2008 10:30 AM
O from Forest Hills

Two people kissing in public, yikes, next they will show their ankles and maybe their knees with a short skirt, God forbid, I can't stand it, I am so insulted!!!:)

Jul. 15 2008 10:30 AM
Susan

Chris O--I am a lifelong liberal/progressive independent, registered as a democrat so I can vote in primaries, who has twice voted for Nader and often for the Greens and may well do so again. This is not because I have a problem (your non-credentials as a psychotherapist are showing), it's because I am anti death penalty, pro gun control, pro public campaign finanace, pro separation of church and state, anti FISA, pro civil liberties, and anti Iraq war. Perhaps you disagree with these positions, which is certainly your right, and I will not therefore stoop to labeling you as "having a problem."

Jul. 15 2008 10:30 AM
karen from Village

The left has sown what it now reaps...
after all, we must look at the underlying reasons for why they hate us, er, why they portray Obama in satire as a Muslim

All the nasty, offensive cartoons of Bush, all the hateful propoganda from the moveon.org crowd demonizing Christians, Republicans etc... have opened the floodgate for Obama bashing cartoons

pretty ironic for "progressives" who are always ranting about "blowback"

Jul. 15 2008 10:30 AM
RJ Supa from Brooklyn

I think it's intersting that your guests have repeatedly mentioned the upper-crust, snobbish attitude of The New Yorker on NPR, a media outlet that during it's fundraisers categorizes The New Yorker as print version of NPR/WNYC.

Irony abounds.

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
Michael O'Connor

This raises another prickly issue of bias - not racial or political, but having to do with intelligence. I know no thinking person who has seen this who didn't understand it as satire and who didn't understand that its effect has to do precisely with its ferocity. Are we now going to hear calls for censorship of jokes and cartoons that are too subtle or sophisticated or beyond the abilities of some people to fully grasp?

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
chris o from new york city

It is not a failed attempt at satire. One must willfully ignore the subject of the satire, the ignorant voter, not the Obamas. MOreover, it is now in its second day of news coverage. Quite a success, indeed.

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
Mike L

The problem with this country is that most of you, most Americans, and most people discussing this on the radio, are missing the actual point of this satire.

The point:

How ridiculous it is that some could attempt to cast this candidate as an America-hating "secret" Muslim, who is far outside the mainstream.

It was important for us to have the discussion about how many on the right are getting away with that through subtext or sometimes very directly (through the email chains and a few Fox News moments).

We need this issue (of the degradation of our "political debate") in front of everyone's face, not glossed over and tacitly accepted as it is, and the New Yorker lampooned the sources while putting the issue right where we need it.

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
John from Manhattan

I think that there is such an uproar because this unlikely event touches america's worst nightmare.

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
O from Forest Hills

Next topic already, please!

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
Cody from Inwood

This is perfect satire and one of the best NYer covers in a long time. It's hilarious, and, yes, I am an Obama supporter.

Those that worry that it will be taken the wrong way need to take themselves less seriously, have more faith in the intelligence of others, and regain their sense of humor.

Those that don't get it need to brush up on their satire. Perhaps, start with some Jonathan Swift. Or is he too "offensive," as well?

Lighten-up folks.

Jul. 15 2008 10:29 AM
Erin from Manhattan

maybe print media has been forced to resort to shock value to sell, but a half-hour radio discussion on this? really?

Jul. 15 2008 10:28 AM
jennifer from Inwood

I wonder if Mel Brooks' 'Blazing Saddles' was required viewing for the nation, would we be having this discussion in such detail now??

Jul. 15 2008 10:28 AM
scnex from harlem

this is why the fund drive falls to reach its audience....

Jul. 15 2008 10:28 AM
Zach from Brooklyn

The fact that the content of the lengthy articles (New Yorker...) will be totally eclipsed by the cover art is an indication of our visual society, where, for better or for worse, it is entirely appropriate to "Judge a book by its cover."

Jul. 15 2008 10:28 AM
paul peacock from new york city

re /the surrealist obama joke/

see, the joke is that the second cow is right.

pi is usually abbreviated to /two/ decimal places - 3.14...

Jul. 15 2008 10:28 AM
Georgia from NJ

The problem with this cartoon is the complete absence of the subject of the satire in the picture. Many have suggested that the same picture in someone else's thought bubble would have made it funny. Maybe a "This fear paid for by..." tagline?

Jul. 15 2008 10:27 AM
O from Forest Hills

#59

Why do you think this fails to be funny or relevant? You don't see it as making fun of the conservatives and their attempts to muddy Obama's name?

It's a psychological play to be funny and to get a reaction out of people and to rattle their cages.

Think beyond the surface.

Jul. 15 2008 10:27 AM
David from East Village

You people are nuts. The cover was hardly a piece of comic brilliance, but it's nothing to be up in arms about. Relax, jesus.

Jul. 15 2008 10:27 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

#14, Yes, once anyone knows the covers title is “The Politics of Fear” it makes sense… Is potentially even funny. Where do you see “The Politics of Fear”? Not on the cover. Not on the inside of the cover. Not on page one. On page two. The COVER is what’s on display. If a title is necessary for the intent of a caricature to be clear, then it’s bad satire.

As far as other covers go… Katrina, cowboys, Cheney shooting somebody in the face, etc. These satirical covers were based in and lampooning truth. Posters saying this cover is great because it takes Senator Obama to task… I ask; takes him to task on what? His wife being a member of the Black Panthers and him being the Janjaweed in America? Give me a break.

Funny or not, it’s just a failed attempt at satire.

Jul. 15 2008 10:27 AM
hjs from 11211

i compare the PC crowd to the fundamentalist who protested the Muhammad cartoons.

we need to grow up already.

Jul. 15 2008 10:26 AM
Lauren Soucy from Manhattan

I think the New York magazine cover from a few weeks ago (McCain and Obama doing the fist jab on the beach) was a much more successful joke. It references these issues but kept it light-hearted.

Jul. 15 2008 10:26 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

I yelled "dryer" in a crowded theater once and no one laughed.

A poorly timed routine poorly executed weak routine.

Jul. 15 2008 10:26 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING funny about O-Ba-Ma. . . the man; his candidacy- or the notion that he could actually BECOME the President of the United States!

And in that- therein lies the real joke!

Jul. 15 2008 10:26 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

I've read a dozen people grasping for an appropriate anology from the right ("What if this were the cover of the National Review?," etc.). But I think these are misguided. It once again assumes that Obama is the target of the satire, and not the fringe right that laps up these ludicrous rumors. A more apt anology might be if a conservative weekly (say, The Weekly Standard) printed a caraciture of Obama depicted as a saint--which THEY HAVE. They of course don't have to depict Obama followed by thousands of sheep to get their point across of how they view Obama supporters. We get it. And nobody on the right is telling them, "psst... watch it, our readers might ACTUALLY believe that he's the Messiah."

Jul. 15 2008 10:26 AM
karen from Village

#60

what are you ranting about the "Black Holocaust"

such nonsense.....

Jul. 15 2008 10:25 AM
Gary Rosenberger from Manhattan

One of the great things about having a lousy president is the humor they inspire. If any president is going to be off limits to comedians, for any reason, it promises to be a very boring next four years.

Jul. 15 2008 10:25 AM
James from Brooklyn

"My god these guys are so not funny, yet they're giggling at their own bad jokes like Beavis and Butthead on meth."

AGREED!

These guys are NOT funny. It's painful.

Jul. 15 2008 10:25 AM
Meg from Brooklyn

Your guests this morning are incredibly irritating. I wish they could stop cracking each other up long enough to have an intelligent conversation. I had to turn off the radio.

The cover was a mistake, like a lot of mistakes. Let's just move on, and wait for the cover of McCain.

Jul. 15 2008 10:25 AM
Michael Broder from Brooklyn, NY

#1, I think it's a great cover.

#2, satire, from a historical perspective, does not have to be funny and can in fact be quite offensive. Bennett on CNN compared the New Yorker cover unfavorably to Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal," but I think if you were to research the reception of that essay, you would find that many readers have found it offensive and not funny.

#3, I think the backlash is more a function of the dynamics of campaign punditry and 24-hour news cycle pseudo-analysis than it is a function of the quality of the image itself.

Jul. 15 2008 10:24 AM
PJ from NYC

i could laugh a lot harder if I weren't certain that this cover is being reproduced on the web and otherwise and will be an effective campaign tool for the other side in certain states.

Jul. 15 2008 10:24 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Yeah Karen but Bush IS an idiot. Senator Obama and his wife are not a Muslim terrorist!!

Jul. 15 2008 10:24 AM
Jose from Queens

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYjhFjvw5gk&feature=related

Jul. 15 2008 10:24 AM
Kru from Queens

I think the medium of cartoons stings more than any other joke delivery system. Consider the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons that caused so much agitation around the world. They aren't like jokes you hear, the insult is fresh every time you see it. Also they usually draw you funny.

Jul. 15 2008 10:24 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I disagree with you Chris o.

Jul. 15 2008 10:23 AM
Jim

The image is not funny but it is satire. That was the point. If you are offended by this you're an idiot. Yes, there are idiots in the world and here's a test.

Jul. 15 2008 10:23 AM
O from Forest Hills

Empty boxes make the most noise.

Jul. 15 2008 10:23 AM
Jacob from Prospect Heights

This is not satire-- satire is about depicting follies, abuses, vices, and shortcomings about the subject of the individual. This image doesn't depict such things about its subjects. It's rank and I'm not too surprised that so many of my uber liberal friends suspended their subscriptions.

That and the article mentions NOTHING about the absurd assertions of the radical right about Obama; it only talks about his career thus far.

Jul. 15 2008 10:23 AM
Black and White from Brooklyn

The New Yorker would not mock the Holocaust!!! would it? yet it believes that the Black Holocuast
is ripe for amusement!

Jul. 15 2008 10:22 AM
Brian from Brooklyn

Is this possible? A New Yorker cartoon fails to be funny or relevant?

Jul. 15 2008 10:22 AM
karen from Village

Considering all the nasty caricatures of President Bush over the last 8 years...

the Bush Bashing industry -- from Shrub to Bushit
etc...

the cartoons of Bush making him look like a chimp etc...

It's rather funny and hypocritical for "progressives" to whine about every case where Obama isn't worshipped as the Messiah...

The NEw Yorker cartoon reminds me of the Danish cartoons of Mohammad ---

Chill out --- and bring on the cartoons of Obama as a chimp - just as was deon to Bush -- and let the hypocrisy fly....

Jul. 15 2008 10:22 AM
Pat from nyc

The Obama's were parodied as terrorists. They weren't portrayed as stupid, or elitist, or brilliant. They were portrayed as violent. How can that be seen as funny?

Jul. 15 2008 10:21 AM
chris o from new york city

I like the cover. Yes it is not People magazine, or US or Entertainment. Screw you general population of 300 million. If you read the New Yorker, you would not be such an ignorant mass.

Jul. 15 2008 10:21 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I agree with you Chris O.

Jul. 15 2008 10:21 AM
Arlin from NYC

I sometimes refer to our favorite Democratic presidential candidate as Barack "I really need a nickname" Obama. I suppose that's funny...

Jul. 15 2008 10:21 AM
stephanie from Ringwood, nj

Joke I heard months ago, so forgive me if it's not polished.
-- Why are white Americans voting for Obama?
He's just black enough.

Jul. 15 2008 10:21 AM
Telegram Sam from Staten Island

My god these guys are so not funny, yet they're giggling at their own bad jokes like Beavis and Butthead on meth.

Jul. 15 2008 10:20 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Everyone talks about his last name, middle name.

Which of those did he choose for himself?

What is your middle name? When did you choose it?

Please expand your ignorance.

Jul. 15 2008 10:20 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Onion headline: "Black guy asks nation for change."

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/black_guy_asks_nation_for_change

Jul. 15 2008 10:20 AM
Steve Mark from NYC

Just like 9/11 and the lag time of jokes about Usama, there'll be a lag time for Obama. As the extreme right sings, you say Usama, I say Obama. . .Usama, Obama, let's call the whole thing off.

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
arran from brooklyn

i don't see how this is satire - for it to be satire i would have thought it would need to directly refer to the people who think that obama is a terrorist. i don't see that cartoon doing that - all i see is a cartoon of obama and michelle dressed as a terrorist. how is this satire? - i still haven't heard this explained.

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
Black and White from Brooklyn

Barry

The reality is that white and black people dont live on the same country!

Black and white people speak dont speak the same language when it comes to race!!!

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
paul peacock from new york city

p.p.s. and i love THE NEW YORKER

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
Anne from Midtown Manhattan

Has anyone considered that the USA has too much painful history when it comes to racism? People were brutalized for centuries. There's nothing funny about that.

There are some things that are just to sore to joke about.

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
BORED

The real problem is that all we do are read headlines. Of couse if we took a little time to investigate things we wouldn't always be offended but since we love to react to the superfical we then always have to deal with these same issues. Also America doesn't need a converstion on race because none of us are smart enough to make it worth anything.

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
KC from Washington Heights

The New Yorker janitor asked for his impression would have said anything to please, to keep his job.

Jul. 15 2008 10:19 AM
chris o from new york city

the truth wrote: "Just look at the posts from Califano."

No, those are the ones I skip over.

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
Tobie Baldwin from NJ

According to one of the commentators on MSNBC yesterday, no one in real America reads the New Yorker anyway.

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
paul peacock from new york city

p.s. the ONION makes me cry.

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
david olmedo from nyc

Should Senator Obama becomes president does everything anyone says about him become a racial issue

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
George Bulow from Upper West Side

If someone doesn't get a joke - or appreciate satire, who's to blame? Clearly, the satirist would like to let everyone in on the joke. In this case, for too many people the joke appears to have fallen flat.

Last night, on The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill hosted a segment with a professor (in Philadelphia or Washington) and with the Editor of Rolling Stone magazine.

To my mind, if there is a valid criticism of The New Yorker cover, it was of the fist bump. That actually took place, whereas the other aspects of both Barack and Michelle Obama as characterized were exactly the opposite of who they appear to be and what values they have expressed.

Ifill did ask, however, about another New Yorker cover done about eighteen months ago (or more) when the Oval Office was pictured with key members of the Cabinet (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice) all in water up to their shoulders. The picture came from the same artist and was approved by the same editor.

Whenever one ascribes heavier moral worthiness to one's candidate or ideology vs. that of your opponents, humor, or the ability to look at yourself and the foibles of your fellow followers (or leaders), is the first thing to go out the window.

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
Christina from Manhattan

Where's the satire? The only reactions are coming from liberals and the Obama campaign. Where is the insulted outrage of the supposed target, the right wing knuckledraggers who think Obama is a Muslim terrorist? Since there is none, it's obvious the New Yorker missed their target.

Jul. 15 2008 10:18 AM
chris o from new york city

Susan #16,
Don't you hate Obama, are you one of those life-long Dems who may not vote for him (I may be confusing you with another)? If so and you like the cartoon, maybe it is a problem.

Jul. 15 2008 10:17 AM
bob from NY

From the internet, God help us...

Q. What do Obama and Osama have in common?
A. They both have friends who bombed the Pentagon.

Q. Why doesn’t Barack drink Pepsi?
A. He thinks that things go better with coke.

Q. Why wouldn’t Barack salute the American flag?
A. It was ours.

Q. Why did Obama change his name from Barry to Barack?
A. He thought Barry sounded too American.

Q: What do you get when you cross a crooked politician with a crooked lawyer?
A: Barack Obama.

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
James from Brooklyn

I was working as a freelancer at an office downtown when a guy closed the door to the room we were in and told me an Obama joke that I thought was in VERY poor taste. The three woman who worked right outside the office were all black and I know he shut the door so they wouldn't hear. I felt sick to my stomach the rest of the day and couldn't look those women in the eye even though I made it clear to this guy how I felt about his joke. Is this some kind of sub-conscious guilt? I don't know but it was the first time I ever had that feeling and it was awful.

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington, NY

The cover is irresponsible and in poor taste. Having said that, if it had appeared inside the magazine,within the context of the article, it might have worked. Too many Americans are more interested in Brad Pitt's twins than the election; they just see the cover and don't understand the satire.
Katie

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Why is this even in debate? What the devil is wrong with this Country? It was in poor taste! Someone used poor judgement.

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
Pablo Alto from Riverdale but work in Manhattan...

As person of color, I was stunned. I "got it" but the level of ignorance throughout this country does not lend itself for this type of nuanced not so subtle respond. I suspect the Right Wingers who don't like him will post this everywhere they can.

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
Steven from Ridgewood

i am reluctant to 'edit' the cover. I think it was satire but perhaps the artist should have placed the conceptual image within the thought bubble of someone thinking these things about Obama.

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

Jesse Califano- 'The unspoken word. . . -written, . . .and joked about!'

I think it is difficult to poke fun at O-Ba-Ma for the simple reason that the mane is himself- totally humorless... and selfserving in that he takes himself WAY too seriously!!

And hao about his humor-filled wife- the always irascible Michelle!!

Jul. 15 2008 10:16 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

@1,
The New Yorker cover, at best, is an inelegant attempt at satire. Mr. Remnick defended the cover on NPR yesterday saying it CLEARLY satirized the attempts to brand Senator Obama as a terrorist. That is far from clear in the image. The cover appears to satirize the Obamas showing their true colors once in the White House. I think you should look up the meaning of satire. This neither lampoons Obama’s critics, or speaks truth to anything in a clear way. Only after you hear (or read at the bottom of page two) the cover’s title is “The Politics of Fear” does the cover make sense.
The New Yorker can print whatever it wants, but this, editorially, was a myopic decision.

Jul. 15 2008 10:15 AM
seth from Long Island

New Yorker editor David Remnick is a clueless jerk who is totally out of touch with mainstream America. Too many people are simply too dumb to get Remnick's joke. Remnick's attempt to make the New Yorker appear cool or hip with this cover was totally lame. The cover was atrocious and disgusting.

Jul. 15 2008 10:15 AM
John-Paul from Elizabeth, NJ

Chris Rock had a great joke that Rolling Stone republished, I may have the quote wrong but the gist is, "Barack Obama has two african names... You have to wonder, does he carry a spear?"

We know that Rolling Stone is pro Obama. I'd call if I had access to a phone right now.

Jul. 15 2008 10:14 AM
Robert from NYC

Keep on him. Don't let him off the hook, Obama that is. Listen to Democracy Now today with Naomi Klein, she makes excellent points about Obama's shifts since he won the primary. His supporters have to stay on his tail and make him accountable for everything he says and does. She makes the points a lot clearer and in a more articulate way than I ever can do.

Jul. 15 2008 10:14 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

O, it is not ok that is the point.

Jul. 15 2008 10:14 AM
paul peacock from new york city

a surrealist obama joke:

two cows are standing in the pasture. one turns to the other and says /although pi is usually abbreviated to five numbers, it actually goes on into infinity/.

the second cow turns to the first and says /i don't believe you, you silly cow/.

Jul. 15 2008 10:13 AM
Steve from NYC

Maybe after all the sh*t the American people have been through over the past 8 years - 16 if you include the political fighting of the Clinton years - they are tired of laughing about it.
Obama offers some hope that maybe things will change for once. Mocking that change might not be so funny to most people.

Jul. 15 2008 10:13 AM
Edward from NJ

Liberal Bloggers Accuse Obama of Trying to Win Election -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-borowitz/liberal-bloggers-accuse-o_b_110371.html

Jul. 15 2008 10:13 AM
Albert from Greenwich, CT

It is obvious what the New Yorker was trying to do, but this is up there with Whoopi Goldberg encouraging Ted Dansen to wear black face makeup at the Fryers Club. Intelectually we get the satire, but it was stupid.

Jul. 15 2008 10:13 AM
Jesse from Brooklyn

It's unsuccessful satire. Just depicting the slurs and smears does not make the final leap to satire. The only difference between this cover and a cartoon in a Stormfront newsletter is context, and not everyone has the inclination to take in the two steps of irony required to "get" the satire here.

Just dumb. The cover is really dumb. The equivalent would've been a cover image of Bush as Hitler or Giuliani as a Klansman, also popular fringe takes on both politicians.

Jul. 15 2008 10:13 AM
upper west sider from upper west side, NYC

I think the society needs help, as Michael Winslow said above. Anybody with half a brain could see that this is the kind of cover the New Yorker does--remember the Crown Heights cover? The one with Cheney and the guy he accidentally shot in a Brokeback Mountain montage? Only literal-minded people would be unable to get this--and unfortunately, there are too many literal-minded people in this country.

Jul. 15 2008 10:12 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

This country is too immature to deal with racism on an intellectual level. Do you really think we are ready for racist satire?

Just look at the posts from Califano.

Jul. 15 2008 10:12 AM
Joel Dreyfuss from New York

The problem with the New Yorker piece was that no black editor was involved. The NY Times today lamented the fact that late night shows are all white hosted and white writers.. why is this still so. Are there no black editors in 2008? No black comedy writers? They would have pointed out the bad taste and maybe come up with something truly funny.

Jul. 15 2008 10:12 AM
Susan

I held off comment until my New Yorker arrived yesterday and I could judge for myself. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny, certainly no more offensive than many of their other covers. All this brouhaha seems to revolve aroud the deification of Obama, and the instant branding of any questions about him as racist.

Jul. 15 2008 10:11 AM
BORED

No one cares about Hillary!!! Also no one cares about sexism versus racism. Jonathan find something new.

Jul. 15 2008 10:11 AM
judy from NYC

With the title- The Politics of Fear- the cartoon is great satire.

Jul. 15 2008 10:11 AM
chris o from new york city

christopher - please; with 40 years under your belt you still react like this?!

Jul. 15 2008 10:11 AM
Derek from Brooklyn

Jesse -

huh?

Jul. 15 2008 10:10 AM
Robert from NYC

I understand the editor's reasons but it really was just in bad taste. He just didn't get it that some people--most people--would only SEE the cover and not read the magazine's lean toward Obama. It was just not in good taste, that's it.
Soledad O'Brien, feh! What IS her profession?

Jul. 15 2008 10:09 AM
Jonathan from Williamsburg

Isn't it interesting that there was seemingly no end to the jokes and off color remarks on Hillary during the primaries while Barack still is the equivalent of joke Teflon? What does that say about sexism vs. racism in America today?

Jul. 15 2008 10:09 AM
chris o from new york city

It is kind of amusing to see so many Obama supporters get their panties in a twist over the New Yorker cover. As for the media frenzy, that is what we are reduced to, that is how national campaigns are run. This is what gains great interest, this is where the microscopes come out, it is quite pathetic.

Even though the cartoon mocks Obama's ignorant critics, of course the Obama camp is going to slam it. What are they going to say, "We thought that was funny. Those idiots who think false things about me deserve to be mocked."

Jul. 15 2008 10:09 AM
O from Forest Hills

Why was it okay the ad about Jerry Falwell, tv evangelist having sex with his mother in an outhouse in Hustler magazine in the 80s, that was satirical, why isn't this one satirical? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Jul. 15 2008 10:09 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

Christopher please.

give me a brake

Jul. 15 2008 10:09 AM
BORED

Christopher stop being a crazy.

Jul. 15 2008 10:08 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

Jesse Califano- 'The unspoken word. . . -written, . . .and joked about!'


I'd like to give Mr. O-Ba-Ma some of my Uncle Tony's great philosophical lines, something like: "And my fellow Americans- I say to you that when I become the President of the United States- it will be far better for every one of us- ALL Americans- to be rich and healthy, rather than suffering the plight of being poor and sick!!".
And: "I am sure that ALL Americans- Democrats and Republicans alike- will agree with me when I say that rich or poor- it's always good to have money!".

And how about a SNL skit showing O'Ba-Ma standing in front of a podium, gesticulating like craze- waving his hand and pointing his fingers- obviously delivering a 'speech' by mouthing words- but with NO sound coming out of him- yet the crowd can be heard cheering wildly at certain obvious 'gesticulated junctures' - the ultimate in the political speechmaking art as perfected by Sen. O-Ba-Ma. . . of delivering a speech WITHOUT actually saying anything!! Now that is at once: 'funny' and 'not so funny'!

Jul. 15 2008 10:07 AM
Jesse Califano from NYC/ TPA/

Jesse Califano- 'The unspoken word. . . -written, . . .and joked about!'

There is actually nothing funny about O-Ba-Ma. . . becoming President!

Nevertheless- I think Mr. O-Ba-Ma should be satirized fory some of his over-the-top emotional speechs- I particularly like the one in which he candidly implies that his administration will stop the oceans from encroaching on America's land masses!

I think a funnier New Yorker Magazine Cover Cartoon- would be seeing Mr. O-Va-Ma taking a tentative step onto the ocean- with his wife at his back saying: "Go 'head honey- you can do it!" (Or just that visual alone!)

Jul. 15 2008 10:07 AM
Christopher from NYC

WNYC should suspend its policy of giving NYer subscriptions to doners who qualify. I have canceled by subscription after more than 40 years of being a regular reader.

Jul. 15 2008 10:05 AM
David Marcus from Lower East Side

I used this joke at a show recently to much hissing. "Obama was asked about his position on Iran (pronounced eye-ran) and responded by telling reporters 'I haven't listened to A Flock of Seagulls since I stopped blowing toot'"

Jul. 15 2008 10:04 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

Of course this is satire.

How can anyone see it as anything else is beyond me.

Now satire is offensive.

This society needs help.

What is not funny is Obama voting for the patriot act, FISA and supporting the death penalty.

Jul. 15 2008 10:03 AM

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