This morning The New Yorker
has come under fire for a cover encompassing every stereotype and rumor
used against Barak Obama during the presidential campaign; depicting
Obama in the oval office as a flag burning Osama Bin Laden supporter,
fist bumping his machine gun toting Black radical wife.
cartoon entitled "The Politics of Fear" is meant to be a satire of the caricature of Obama created by right-wing pundits, however both Obama
and called it offensive and tasteless
Satire is defined
as the use of ridicule, sarcasm and irony to expose or denounce vice or
folly. So by its very nature, satire is almost often offensive, and at
the very least bordering on it. It's poking fun at something serious.
The public seems polarized with half outraged
by what they consider a racist image and the other half of the people
understanding the drawing as satire. One Newsvine columnist even called
the cover one of the smartest examples of satire
he'd ever seen.
"I couldn't imagine a more potent satirical argument against the
plethora of radio hosts, TV personalities, bloggers and general
assholes who have spent the past year painting exactly that picture
with their words. You know it's true - Obama and his wife have been
painted as dangerous foreign radicals with questionable loyalties and a
complete disregard for the values of the United States. His name has
been closely associated with that of Osama bin Laden and the furor
raised over the couples' fist-pump was quite frankly embarrassing, but
there it is."
brings us to the real point of the cover art: to raise awareness and
get people talking about the way Barak Obama and his wife have been
portrayed during this election cycle. In an interview
with Huffington Post, cartoonist Barry Blitt said that the image is not
about Obama but about how the media has depicted him. People are so
quick to be offended, they don't even realize that the drawing is
holding a mirror to the rest of the media.
"I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone
as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that
depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering
ridiculousness that it is."
For all of those offended by the image, the challenge is for you to
suspend your initial reaction to examine the stereotypes, racism and
general negativity that has plagued the campaign cycle via the media.
The suspension of offense aside, parody and satire is what the New
Yorker does; I suspect that the magazine knows its readers.