Monday, July 14, 2008

On The Proper Use of Satire

The above New Yorker magazine just came out. Here are the reactions:

The Obama camp spokesperson referred to it as "tasteless and offensive," among other things. (See this article)

John McCain's campaign also referred to it as "tasteless and offensive." [Side note: I am getting worried that the two of them are sounding far too much alike sometimes.]

The New Yorker released this statement: "The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another. Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover."

The New Yorker's stated intent is to parody the various stories circulating about Obama: That he is a closet Muslim, that his wife is a black radical, etc.; their claim is that by caricaturing these things, they will show the ridiculousness of what is circulating. In that sense, they are within their rights.

On the other hand, the Obama camp's outrage is understandable, as more people will actually see the cover and assume that the cover is factual, than will actually read the article themselves. After all, the New Yorker is a well-established and reliable publication, is it not? And nothing on that cover clearly states that this is parody or satire.

And, of course, if it were me running for president, the magazine's cover would probably show something resembling the Inquisition (Baptist-style, no doubt) with me as the potentate-in-charge, condemning homosexuals and abortion doctors to die. Or something like that. And I would be pretty ticked off.

So as difficult as it is for me to admit, I must give just a little sympathy to Obama on this one. Unless the New Yorker can document what it caricatures, it needs to be more responsible regarding its artwork.

No comments: