Monday, July 14, 2008
Much ado about nothing
So there's the expected hue and cry over the latest cover of The New Yorker which shows a cartoon depicting Obama in the oval office, dressed in the republican-fantasized MuslimTerroristAttire (good detail. The shalwar is just a tad above the ankle). Bumping fists with him is an angry Michelle Obama with a menacing afro, touting a machine gun and caustic smirk that seems to transmit a call for the white man's blood. Burning in the fireplace beside them is the American flag.
I personally thought the cartoon was funny when I first saw it. It isn't much of a work of art really, that should even warrant the disussion that it has sparked. In fact the joke's rather simplistic. A no-brainer for the average reader of the sophisticated magazine; just poking a bit of fun at the the outrageous Obama rumor-brigade run by the right-wing media and politicians throughout the country.
The cartoon would have made no story if it had in fact been limited to the eyes of the readers of The New Yorker which, incidentally, is not even usually available at your average newsstand, especially not to the innocent, easily-led sheep in the rural heartlands of America.
But as it goes, it's four months to the election and anything smelling of Obama controversy is tasty meat for the media at this time. Obama campaign issued a hurt, angry response; Obama supporters called for an apology and rejected the 'satire' arguement. Some furiously explained why an exaggeration of untruths about Obama does not compare up to older cartoonic depictions of exaggerated truths about Bush and Cheney that have graced the magazine's covers in the past.
Of course, many left-wingers are less perturbed. That's The New Yorker for you, they say. They're just making a joke which isn't even very new.
Here's what I think: I understand the fears of Obama supporters, that the monstrous Fox News and its followers won't get the satire and instead probably end up using the cartoon as their desktop backgrounds to remind them of Obama's general badness.
Yes, they will.
But, as Taimoor pointed out to me earlier this morning, the publicizing of the cartoon keeps Obama on the cover and for most part, does make everyone who might have forwarded an Obama rumor email in the past look like an idiot. At least to the others, if not themselves. Unfortunately though, satire is not the most popular medium of information and most popular media like Fox News are very literal and easy on intellectual stimulus. So for all those who watch Fox News for News, nothing much will change. The cartoon will just be a minor reinforcement of beliefs which weren't going anywhere anyway.
For those who don't watch Fox News for their news though, one look at the cartoon should just make them smile derisively and consider the ridiculous in the Anti-Obama rumor machine. Again, a minor reinforcement of an opinion they probably already had.