We reported this morning on the continued flap over the current cover of The New Yorker that depicts several of the misconceptions that some Americans have (and rumors that some pass along as fact) of Senator Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. WATCH VIDEO
The magazine has a long history of satirical covers, and Barry Blitt, the illustrator, has certainly gotten a lot of mileage out of mocking President Bush and Vice President Cheney (comparing them to the Odd Couple and depicting a Cheney visit to the cardiologist in terms of the Terrorism Threat Level).
Another illustrator, Mark Ulriksen, re-imagined the Bush-Cheney relationship as a real-life Brokeback Mountain situation on a New Yorker cover.
The point is, New Yorker covers are often satirical, poking fun at the powerful, particularly politicians. So what was it about this cover that caused such an uproar?
Perhaps it was that with most covers, the joke is on the depicted subject; but in this case, the joke is supposed to be on the people who have and perpetuate those misconceptions about the Obamas -- but those people aren't represented on the cover in any way.
Some would therefore argue that all this illustration does is spread the lies and misconceptions even further. But isn't the fact that we're talking about it help to somewhat dispel the rumors?
Regardless, I'd like to know what went on in meetings at the magazine, whether the editors anticipated the level of outrage that this cover would elicit -- and whether it was worth alienating a lot of subscribers, who, presumably, are Obama supporters (the magazine is well known for its left-of-center politics).
One thing is for sure: it can't be comfortable for New Yorker editor David Remnick to have to keep explaining the joke; nothing takes the sting out of comedy like demistifying it.