Politrix: Where Do We Draw the Line?

I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the editorial meeting when editors at The New Yorker decided to move forward with this cover. What was the thought process behind it, besides causing a stir, increasing newsstand sales and maybe getting Editor David Remnick on every cable news show known to man?

The New Yorker
calls it “satire”, meant to “hold up a curtain to the absurd”, but in actuality, it’s only elevating the ignorance that they wish to make fun of. We live in a world where imagery speaks volumes and people rarely take the time to read, research or search for a deeper meaning. I am sure that the editors of the New Yorker know this better than anyone, which makes me question their TRUE motives. If anything, this only gives McCain an advantage to reap the benefits of all the support and potential votes that fear and ignorance can derive.

This reminds me of the recent “Assasination of Barack Obama” exhibit which, just like this cover, was nothing more than “satire.” Artist Yazmany Arboleda defended his installation by claiming, “It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination…” The NYPD quickly shut him down—not more than 30 minutes after his installation was set up.

So what makes this New Yorker cover any different? See below for a few images from Arboleda’s instillation, and take another look at the cover. Where do we draw the line?


Last 5 posts by Sherry J. Bitting

  • dsteel

    why is michelle’s hair curly on the cover and all we’ve ever seen her wear is a straight hair style? almost like they’re playing up the “nappy headed ho” ref with the imagery. =0/

  • yo this this is just the tip of the iceberg.. check out the blog on the bigtent about it..wrote it this AM> http://adage.com/bigtent/post?article_id=129619

  • that’s supposed to be an afro, as in michelle is barack’s gun-totin’/ready to go to war mama, ala foxy brown. the cover was supposed to be satirical but if the magazine’s name was covered, it could have been propaganda from any anti-barack, anti-black, anti-anything magazine. truthfully speaking, the whole situation is fucked up. because america continues to be a racist country, everything will always be up for scrutiny. jokes are only going to be funny and satire is only going to be witty if it comes from your own. and that’s sad. just playing devil’s advocate, should the new yorker be blamed because people missed the point? should they tell barak supports to stop being so sensitive, it was only jokes? can we, african-americans and/or barack supports, honestly take it all in stride if the jokes continue to be on us? i don’t know.

  • Yes. As a media organization, The New Yorker has to take responsibility for the images that they put out to the public. They knew that it was going to cause a lot of controversy and piss a lot of people off, so yes, they should be blamed. They knew that people would miss the point. We live in a lowest common denominator culture with a very small percentage of people who take the time to find the wit in satire… or analyze the meaning of something. There are certain things in media and pop culture that are off limits when it comes to other ethnic groups. For some reason, people think that it is okay to make jokes and guise it under the umbrella of “satire” when it comes to Black culture and that is unacceptable. Don Imus was a great example… How many times did we hear..”That’s just how he is. People should just lighten up.” No–we shouldn’t.

  • point taken and agreed but let me continue playing devil’s advocate, would that cover still be acceptable if it was on a black magazine? that begs the question, which black magazine would dare post such a controversial cover? we didn’t see a magazine but we heard comedians’ jokes about the images shown. [sidenote about imus: did people get upset with d.l. hughley’s comments (“there were some nappy headed women on the team and those are some of the ugliest women i have ever seen in my life.”)? actually, a few people did but then it was let go.] isn’t the point of satire to cause controversy and piss some people off? aren’t people talking about it in a different context than when those individual images were first presented? i bring all of this up not to give the new yorker a pass. certain things just aren’t funny or witty. but does that mean that there won’t be any more satires of bush as the dude from mad magazine? i’m pretty sure that there are people that don’t think that that’s funny ( i am not one of them. he is stupid and clueless and it was funny). i agree with obama’s campaign. the cover was tasteless. i got it but i’m not laughing.

    after watching several news programs, i concluded a couple of things. first, the lowest common denominator of our society, the people that would take that satirical cartoon literally, wouldn’t be reading the new yorker (or watching the daily show, the colbert report or the boondocks) anyway. they would see the image out of context and rush to an opinion, like they have been doing with obama throughout his whole campaign. none of the imagery shown in that cartoon are new. each and every one of them has been thoroughly discussed every night. i believe this satire made people feel some kind of way because it was all of them at once. america is fine with a lot of trifling shit until a mirror is held up and the reflection is shown. i believe that pro-obama african-americans were offended because we are often the brunt of jokes. while i would never tell someone to lighten up, i just want to hear how we think we should react and how we should go forward. i’m interested, as you are, to find out where that line is and who’s drawing it.