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You know, some of us are really serious about the future of our country and we think our political leadership is going to have the biggest role in whether things continue to deteriorate or they will begin to get better.  We've felt this way for a long time.  And we actually get mad when the candidates for the presidency are reduced to caricatures and punch lines.  Dukakis in a tank?  Dan Quayle can't spell 'potato', Al Gore invented the internet, John Kerry windsurfing?  These are not disqualifying events.  Fodder for comedians?  Sure.  Funny is funny.  But it's not funny if it distorts the electorate's decision about who should be president.  Bill Carter has an article in the New York Times about how hard it is for comics to make jokes about Barack Obama:

"The thing is, he’s not buffoonish in any way," said Mike Barry, who started writing political jokes for Johnny Carson’s monologues in the waning days of the Johnson administration and has lambasted every presidential candidate since, most recently for Mr. Letterman. "He’s not a comical figure," Mr. Barry said.

And we don't live in comical times.  John McCain is not a comical figure, either...unless you consider him comically wrong or comically out of touch.  We're actually fortunate that Barack Obama is hard to pidgin-hole.  The right-wing wants to tell us that he's the most liberal politician in the Senate, but it's hard when the whole left-wing of the Democratic Party is screaming at him for his sins of 'centrism'.  They want to turn him into the 'black candidate' but he was raised by a white mother and white grandparents.  And black jokes are no longer well tolerated:

Of course, the question of race is also mentioned as one reason Mr. Obama has proved to be so elusive a target for satire.

"Anything that has even a whiff of being racist, no one is going to laugh," said Rob Burnett, an executive producer for Mr. Letterman. "The audience is not going to allow anyone to do that."

And, even Jesse Jackson says Obama is not black enough.  Top that!  

The New Yorker's cover cartoon fell flat because it wasn't funny.  It was bad satire.  It offended people without making them laugh.  No one is laughing at Obama because he is a serious politician talking serious issues in serious times.  Maybe Obama's ears are a little funny, but that's it.  

Bill Maher, who is host of a politically oriented late-night show on HBO, said, "If you can’t do irony on the cover of The New Yorker, where can you do it?"

Maher is bitching about nothing.  You obviously can do irony on the cover of The New Yorker.  They just did.  And we have a right to complain about the stunning lack of quality to that lame attempt at satire.  Nazis have the right to get a permit and march down Main Street.  We have the right to expose their identities and call their employers to complain that they are hiring Nazis.  Nazis aren't funny.  Even Mel Brooks can't make them funny.  You can put a Hitler-mustache on McCain and print it on the cover of Mad magazine and it isn't going to be funny.  It isn't going to defuse any misconceptions about McCain, either.  

Watch Jimmy Kimmel realize that he's an asshole in mid-thought:

Jimmy Kimmel, the host of the ABC late-night talk show "Jimmy Kimmel Live," said of Mr. Obama, "There’s a weird reverse racism going on. You can’t joke about him because he’s half-white. It’s silly. I think it’s more a problem because he’s so polished, he doesn’t seem to have any flaws."

My heart bleeds for these guys.  Obama has flaws like any other person.  But the only jokes people seem to be able to come up with have to do with perpetuating dangerous myths that he's a Muslim, or he's un-American, or he's a black-first politician.  It's nothing but a repetition of insidious lies.  You want a good black joke?  He's a good black joke:

Mr. Maher said that being sensitive to Mr. Obama was in no way interfering with his commentary, though on HBO he has more freedom about content than other comedians. "There’s been this question about whether he’s black enough," Mr. Maher said. "I have this joke: What does he have to do? Dunk? He bowled a 37 — to me, that’s black enough."

He probably can't ski or wind-surf, either.  You want to know hard out there it is for a Network-pimp?

Mr. Kimmel said, "His ears should be the focus of the jokes."

Seriously?

Mr. Sweeney said, "We’re hoping he picks an idiot as vice president."

I remember in 2000 that Don Imus specifically endorsed George W. Bush over Al Gore because he wanted better material for his show.  Well, Don Imus is the joke now.  We need to be able to spoof our leaders.  But we also need to be able tell the difference between a punch-line and a candidate.  Is it funny that a lot of people believe the right-wing fabrications about Barack Obama?  No?  Then that should tell you everything you need to know about why no one laughed at The New Yorker's cover.  

Covers and Beholders [Jonah Goldberg]

What I find interesting about the New Yorker cover is that it's almost exactly the sort of cover you could expect to find on the front of National Review. Roman Genn could do wonders with that concept. Of course, if we ran the exact same art, the consensus from the liberal establishment could be summarized in words like "Swiftboating!" and, duh, "racist." It's a trite point, but nonetheless true that who says something often matters more than what is said — and, obviously, that satire is in the eye of the beholder.

The fact that people like Jonah Goldberg support the literal interpretation of The New Yorker cover explains perfectly why it failed as satire.  

Originally posted to www.boomantribune.com on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Not at all. (4+ / 0-)

      See: Swift's Modest Proposal, eviscerated at the time for its portrait of the Irish.  A hell of a lot of readers didn't see what was funny about it.

      People have a tendency to make sweeping comments about what humor is or what satire is without knowing much about how either works.  Like this:

      The fact that people like Jonah Goldberg support the literal interpretation of  The New Yorker cover explains perfectly why it failed as satire.

      Well, no, it doesn't, which should be clear if anyone bothers to study satire.

      I've got a diary in the works about the history of satire, hopefully to correct a few of these incorrect assumptions.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:55:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I look forward to reading it but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pico, StageStop

        I fear that the only people receptive to it will be the people who already have at least an intuitive understanding of what satire is.

        "I do not equate my oppression with the oppression of blacks and Latinos. You can't. It is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle." Bob Kohler

        by dedmonds on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:16:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a good impetus (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shpilk, dedmonds

          to resurrect the Literature for Kossacks series.  I can't fully commit to the series until August, but this will be a good teaser (if people aren't exhausted by the satire conversation by tomorrow, when I post it).  

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:19:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's failed satire. (7+ / 0-)

    The cartoonist was lazy.

    I explain why here.

    PATRIOT I+II, MCA, FISA CAPITULATION, NOW TORTURE. YOUR COUNTRY IS SLOWLY BEING DISMANTLED. WHAT R U GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

    by maxschell on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:54:16 PM PDT

    •  If a New Yorker joke need to be explained to you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shpilk, Agathena, dhshoops

      then you shouldn't be reading the New Yorker.

      •  the problem (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        allep10, pixxer

        is that the cartoon is seen by many people who do not read the New Yorker and it is precisely when it is taken out of context like this that it fails the most. The New Yorker had to know what would happen, that this would end up generating more heat than light and not actually advance the discussion at all, and that is the real reason it fails, IMHO.

        Hope is passion for what is possible. -- Soren Kierkegaard

        by lauramp on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:10:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the real problem (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maxschell, KMc, lauramp, pixxer

          is that it doesn't defuse the images it presents because it isn't successful in satirizing the images.  They are presented so literally that no one laughs, and the intended job of satire is not accomplished.  I don't know anyone who thinks these stereotypes are not real, not dangerous, and not serious.  

          •  Exactly. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lauramp

            There is no dimension to the presentation/representation of these images.  They are presented too literally.

            In my opinion, the cartoonist was lazy.  Either he or the editor should have said, "like the idea, but needs more work."

            PATRIOT I+II, MCA, FISA CAPITULATION, NOW TORTURE. YOUR COUNTRY IS SLOWLY BEING DISMANTLED. WHAT R U GONNA DO ABOUT IT?

            by maxschell on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:02:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Here's your cartoon improvement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StageStop, pixxer

      Have Rush Limbaugh at the easel, drawing the original on the canvas.

      Have Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter or better yet .. Karl Rove watching TV as Barack Obama is inaugurated, and the cartoon appears as a "thought bubble" above their head.

      But this makes it all too obvious. The original is best left as understated, as there are at least 10% of the people in this country who believe Barack is Muslim. Trying to visualize that 10% and those that think like them is best left up to the dear reader.

      "You know what the real fight is? The real fight is the definition of what is reality." Bernie Sanders

      by shpilk on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:04:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's satire, some people failed to understand. (0+ / 0-)

      This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

      by Agathena on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:06:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The New Yorker's never gone for belly laffs (4+ / 0-)

    Without weighing in on the merits of this example, I'll just say that satire needn't be ha ha funny to be good.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:56:03 PM PDT

  •  If somebody showed me that cover (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    publicv

    I'd vote for the guy.

    Oh wait, I AM voting for the guy!

    The Daily Outrage: It's like being a punk rocker, but without the optimism.

    by eroded47095 on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:56:12 PM PDT

  •  heh (7+ / 0-)

    "He’s not a comical figure," Mr. Barry said.

    It goes to show how far we've come as a country that a skinny dude with big ears and a (ahem, to some) "weird" name wouldn't be a comical figure.  And thank goodness for that.  

    I'm sure the political cartoonists will have a field day making a caricature (perhaps affectionate) of his gigantic smile and such, but it's interesting how many people -- including those who don't agree with him -- respect Sen. Obama and see him as a sober, intelligent, trustworthy person.  Yeah, there are loonies, exactly the type the New Yorker cover was mocking (unsuccessfully, as the image almost entirely overwhelmed the satirical commentary), but Sen. Obama has caused a lot of folks on the "other" side to question their knee-jerk opposition to Democrats.  They might not vote for him, but if he wins anyway, it may be harder for the same old tired stereotypes spewed by Right Wing radio to gain any traction if people simply don't believe them.

    "No ... human ... would stack books like this."

    by socratic on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:56:45 PM PDT

  •  The joke is on Jonah Goldberg (6+ / 0-)

    "The Politics of Fear" was a rousing success for people who get it.

    The ones that didn't like Goldberg are the real subject of the cartoon, and they don't even realize it. That's the beauty of satire.

    This one was brilliant.

    "You know what the real fight is? The real fight is the definition of what is reality." Bernie Sanders

    by shpilk on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:58:25 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting... (4+ / 0-)

    Held my nose and watched both O'Reilly and Hannity to see how they dealt with this issue.

    They very much "tip-toed" around it for the most part which leads me to believe it was both an effective political cartoon and not an issue that will have much play.

    "...and I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords." --Kent Brockman

    by dhshoops on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:08:31 PM PDT

  •  I just thought the cover was weak. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trashablanca, palantir, pixxer

    I wasn't offended, but I just went...blah!  It seemed stupid and in no way enticed me to read what it was about, let alone buy the magazine.

    I am upset about off-shore drilling.  BUSH has oil on the brain and can't think of anything else.

    What a putz.

  •  why it failed: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    askew, KMc, pixxer

    it took a series of rampant, vicious stereotypes and made them into a comic book panel.  It didn't make fun of the stereotypes, it made fun of the victims of the stereotypes.

    It picked the wrong target.

    When Jonathan Swift penned A Modest Proposal (the quintessential example of the genre) he ridiculed the perpetrators of the Irish tragedy.  Yes, he used the caricature of Irish peasants that the English subscribed to to paint his ghoulish picture (read the first paragraph), but the ghouls weren't the Irish, they were the English who, as he painted them, may as well be eating Irish babies.

    What the New Yorker cover did in effect was to paint the Irish eating their own babies.  The English (read: the American far-right) loved it.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

    by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:39:36 PM PDT

    •  Thanks, that's it. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nailbender

      It didn't make fun of the stereotypes, it made fun of the victims of the stereotypes.

      That is why framing the image by having a right-wing nutball drawing it would have made it actually funny and useful satire. That was an excellent suggestion made by more than one person on dKos today.

      And remember... if you don't like the news, go out and make some own.
      - Scoop Nisker

      by pixxer on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:53:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ugh (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dedmonds, StageStop

      I responded to this in another diary, but Swift makes no effort to show the Irish as anything but lazy, worthless, and irresponsibly procreating.  He trusts the intelligence of the audience to recognize it as a portrait of the stereotypes, taken to their absurd extreme.  

      And people had the same reaction to Swift as this reaction to the New Yorker: it was condemned for its portrait of the Irish.  The only reason we laugh at "A Modest Proposal" now is because we have the luxury of distance from the issues: we don't have starving Irish children to deal with.  Read in context, Swift is callous and his satire in really poor taste.  It's as brutal as the outrage behind it, and it's supposed to piss you off.

      You may not believe this, but based on the reactions here, I guarantee a lot of dkos users would have condemned Swift at the time.  It's only distance that makes him palatable.  

      And there are so many examples of satire aiming at stereotypes, it's not even funny.  If the New Yorker cover fails, it's because it didn't work for some people, not because it took the wrong approach - considering that approach has a long and successful history.

      Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

      by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:01:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've seen more misinformation on satire (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        v2aggie2, pico, StageStop

        in the past two days than in my entire life; we're so used to the bland, inoffensive satire of SNL that most people don't know how to deal with the real thing when it rears its ugly, wonderful, compelling, provocative head.

        "I do not equate my oppression with the oppression of blacks and Latinos. You can't. It is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle." Bob Kohler

        by dedmonds on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:13:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  so where is the ridicule (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tammanycall

        (for ridicule is the heart of satire) of the Insight Magazine crowd in that drawing?   I'll tell you: it isn't there.

        Swift ridiculed the English disdain for the Irish.  That drawing only ridiculed the Obamas, not their slanderers.

        And I really don't care how 21st Century cyber addicts would have responded to a Georgian iconoclast.  

        I do know and care, however, how 21st century jingoists respond to a poorly conceived piece of political cover art.  They love it and will use it.

        "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

        by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:23:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and to prove my point: (0+ / 0-)

          Were there any English who, after reading Swift's Proposal, thought that the essay was worthwhile and useful as a political statement?

          Now ask the same question about how US racists' are looking at the Obama piece.

          "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

          by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:27:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not sure that proves your point. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shpilk, StageStop, damned if you do

            I'll give you another example: Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers.  Awesome piece of satire aimed at American militarism.  Nowhere does this announce itself as such.  A couple of dimwitted film critics thought it was fascist, and I can attest that some of my military-happy friends love watching it - they don't realize it's poking fun at them.

            Successful satire nonetheless?  You betcha.  It doesn't matter if all the critics thought it was fascist: it's not, you just have to be a savvy viewer (and critics usually are, which is why some of them caught it).  It doesn't matter if all the neocon youth in the country think it's a masturbatory fantasy: it still isn't.  It wouldn't surprise me if they're having showings of the movie in groups that support violent border patrols, just because they're too dumb to get it.  It's still a brilliant satire.

            I don't care who "uses" a piece of political art if they're doing it at cross purposes to that art's clear intent.  That's the fault of the user, not the artist.  

            We can have a discussion about whether intent is clear enough, but a hyperbolic cartoon in a liberal rag is pretty clear to me.  Is it clear to other people?  I don't know, but I'm not worried about other people: I can't live my life afraid of what misunderstanding can lead to.

            Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

            by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:41:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  you just converted me. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pico

              I guess I'm feeling convertible tonight.  

              So I laugh at the ones not laughing?  That's easy.

              But while we're cogitating: interesting that Harriet Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin went from a piece of sentimental agitprop to unintended satire in 100 years time.  

              That was a case of the artist projecting something which she didn't intend, but which ultimately became useful in a tactically different way for the same ends she originally intended.

              Just thought that was an interesting counterpoint, but my underlying point here (and no, you didn't convert me, I was being ironic, in case you missed it) is that satire, unlike other literary art forms, is characterized by its usefulness.  In fact, Swift's gem is hailed as the apex of the form because it was so effective.  He drove a stake into the heart of English Exceptionalism.

              All I'm saying is that if the right finds a use for that piece of satire, it misses the target (another defining bit) that was intended and so, fails.

              I haven't seen Starship Troopers (and I gotta now) but insofar as crypto-fascists find it useful, it has failed in being effective.

              Satire isn't for the cognoscenti, it's for society.

              "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

              by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:01:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  and now you got me goin: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pico

                to wit: Reefer Madness!

                A piece of propaganda that became satire.  And as satire, it was/is immensely more effective than it was as propaganda.

                That's the ravine between satire and propaganda, and I'm saying that's what the NYer cover art is straddling right now (but the artist is facing the opposite direction, of course).

                But in the end I have to agree with you in one respect (no irony this time): the piece was so ill conceived that it created a forum that may ultimately have a negative impact on the stereotypes the drawing celebrates.

                "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:14:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Some misconceptions: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                shpilk

                the usefulness of satire isn't predicated on whether it "works" (otherwise quite a few of our satires were failures when they originally landed) but on whether its moral critique is accurate.  Yeah, we get dangerously close to objective/subjective territory here, but our canon is littered with satires that failed to find their mark during their early publication history, but have gone on to be recognized as classics.  We can talk about whether a satire is "good" and "effective", but those are neither exclusive nor complimentary categories.  

                I don't buy the purely functional (or at least, purely results-driven) critique of satire for the simple reason that it's never been viewed that way.  A good satire can hit all its targets while failing to connect with its immediate audience.  There definitely has been satire written for the cognoscenti.  

                The Starship Troopers example is a good one since it's an effective critique whether people "get" it or not.  As time has passed, less and less critics are calling it proto-fascist, and a recent book on Verhoeven has helped people recognize its satiric intent (which should have been obvious to anyone who's followed Verhoeven).  

                So all in all, I can see why we might have a discussion over whether the New Yorker's attempt at satire failed (you think it did, I think it didn't).  What I fail to see is why it provokes outrage.  Outrage seems to require something more than a feeling of failed goals, no?

                Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:24:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  the outrage, I think (and I'm not (0+ / 0-)

                  feeling it myself even though I'm being a tad strident here), comes from folks feeling betrayed (on the heels of a litany of betrayals) by an ally, and frustrated that a slur against their champion is given new life as an American meme.

                  And done so expertly.  Hold on...

                  I think I just grokked the bottom line: the artist presents them beautifully.  

                  That's the kicker.  They aren't presented with terrorists' crazed looks (which would have done the trick) but as newly minted icons: President Fanon and First Lady Angela.  

                  They looked good, like the Obamas like to look.  That's where the irony falls out for me.

                  And can we at least agree that satire requires irony?

                  "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                  by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:52:38 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  btw, if those ineffective pieces you cite (0+ / 0-)

                  are they well known?  

                  A couple last things before I collapse:

                  There are many different categories of satire, and one is the political cartoon.  That's what this was.

                  What was the punch line and how can you be sure?

                  And why did Obama take offense?

                  "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                  by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:57:06 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure, plenty of satire missed its mark. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    nailbender

                    On the "high" end of culture, one of the most famous - although less so to English-speaking audiences - is the Russian classic The Petty Demon.  Nowadays it's canonical, required-reading stuff.  At the time it was misconstrued as an ugly self-portrait instead of a satire of provincial Russian culture.  This kind of thing happens.

                    On the "low" end of culture you have websites like "Landover Baptist Church", which had a lot of people scratching their heads over whether a church could be that insane.

                    But the question of whether the audience's reaction or misunderstanding can change the value of a work is interesting and probably more complicated than either of us are letting on.  Consider a famous example: "To thine own self be true" is pretty much a stock phrase accepted as a good piece of advice, even though its intent in the original source is to be an example of weak advice from a poor counsel.  So the vast majority of people quote it with the wrong context in mind: does that mean Shakespeare was ineffectual?   It's a tough call.

                    Either way, I'm a little fearful of measuring a work's success not against our personal reactions, but against the prediction reactions of people who we think won't get it (I know that's not your argument per se, but it's being thrown around so much it's making my head spin).  I tend to subscribe to the E.B.White view of art: if you're constantly lowering your expectations, you end up in the basement fumbling around for a lightswitch.

                    Incidentally, I proposed a different reading of the cover cartoon that may or may not be convincing.  

                    Thanks for keeping up this discussion, by the way.

                    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                    by pico on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:47:24 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  coup de grace: (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      pico

                      Lolita.

                      Go ahead, say it.

                      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                      by nailbender on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:47:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  regarding Laertes' welcome (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      pico

                      I guess you make my point, which I intended to make with Lolita.   Those creations aren't satire, they're madness histories (and in Laertes' case it's more of a don't-pander-to-the-members-ofthe-Shakespearean-Pantheon lesson).
                      Listen, if you will, to ATC from this evening's show, the bit about Remnick's interview.  Listen to him alternately bluster and fumble.  Note that he stoops to claiming that political cartoons don't need overt punchlines.  

                      Gee, what will we do with all the captions and balloons   (maybe they can be recycled for their oil content)?

                      The one lisenter got it exactly right: Remnick is an elitist trying to tell Americans how to respond to a piece of art he bought and displayed in public.

                      (Well, that's not exactly what he said, but I liked the way it ended the letter.)

                      "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

                      by nailbender on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:29:43 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Hm, I'm not sure I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

                        that Lolita is a madness history: Humbert is very much sane (unless I'm misunderstanding your use of the term).  Nabokov had a lot of satirical targets in that particular novel, and they were pretty widely missed by reviewers.  I can't imagine any (good) reading of Lolita that doesn't consider it a satirical novel.  And Nabokov was equally dismissive of those who missed his point as Remnick was of his (albeit terser).  

                        Incidentally, I agree with Remnick: political cartoons don't need overt punchlines.  He sacrificed obviousness for subtlety, and it was the wiser aesthetic choice.  Satire may have a didactic function, but it is art before it is didacticism: otherwise you just write a speech.

                        On a different note, I put together a brief history/discussion of satire here, and credited you in the opening comment for helping prompt the diary.

                        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

                        by pico on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 12:11:57 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

        •  Where is the ridicule? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shpilk, StageStop

          In the hyperbole.  I think that's pretty clear.

          Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

          by pico on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:41:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But the hyperbole isn't ridiculed! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pico

            To the contrary, it's presented exquisitely, without irony.

            That's the point. Satire without irony is like a blog without an argument.

            "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you can succeed." -Nancy Pelosi, 6/29/07.

            by nailbender on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:03:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Can't agree with you here: (0+ / 0-)

              the hyperbole is the ridicule: a condensation of so many memes into a single frame that it's ridiculous on the face.

              Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

              by pico on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:29:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  The difference between: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pixxer

    A) "Dan Quayle can't spell 'potato'"
    and
    B) "Al Gore invented the internet"
    is that while (A) is true, (B) was a false/manufactured smear.

    On top of it, as you know, Gore actually DID help advance the internet through the halls of government like no other politician or public official:

    1. Al Gore and the Internet, By Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf.
    1. Al Gore and the internet
    1. The 'Gore Bill'

    Al Gore's progressive 2000 GE Democratic Platform:
    Prosperity, Progress and Peace

    by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:47:45 PM PDT

    •  My point (0+ / 0-)

      is that the Dan Quayle thing was bullshit, too.

      The plural of potato is potatoes.

      How many of the people that mocked Quayle would have gotten that right?

      Very few.  And even so, spelling deficiencies are not a good measure of aptitude for the vice-presidency.  The problem is the media's and comic's tendency to seize on bullshit.

      •  you're defending Dan Quayle? (0+ / 0-)

        what are you, an RNC mole? Only they have actually defended Quayle on this. The word the kid was asked to spell was clearly the singular of "potato." If a Vice President of the United States does not know how to spell a word that you learn in 1st grade, something is WRONG. Nearly everyone who made fun of Quayle knew how to spell it. Most people do know how to spell potato.

      •  the guy has the working IQ of a potatoE (0+ / 0-)

        i.e. non-existent. That's the problem as was evident from numerous gaffes and inanities; the potato story was just one instance.

        "The problem is the media's and comic's tendency to seize on bullshit."

        We're in agreement on that.

        ps: Potatoes can be shown to be smarter than Dan Quayle! Proof: if you stick in metal strips (electrodes) into a potato, you can generate mild electricity from it. By connecting a dozen of them in series, you can make a battery from it and can probably power a small laptop for a few seconds and have a dictionary program correctly spell the word "potato." Ergo, a potato is smarter and more fun than Dan Qualye. QED :)

        Speaking of potatoes, here is a nice video treat for potato lovers everywhere!

        The Potato Song by Cheryl Wheeler

        Al Gore's progressive 2000 GE Democratic Platform:
        Prosperity, Progress and Peace

        by NeuvoLiberal on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:40:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Actually I'd argue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pico

    The fact that people like Jonah Goldberg support the literal interpretation of The New Yorker cover explains perfectly why it failed as satire.  

    That this is why it was such a success.

    "I do not equate my oppression with the oppression of blacks and Latinos. You can't. It is not the same struggle, but it is one struggle." Bob Kohler

    by dedmonds on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:51:03 PM PDT

  •  I think of it like this... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tammanycall, pixxer

    imagine if some conservative magazine drew a political cartoon where John McCain was on an expensive jet plane with a poopy adult diaper while he had a temper tantrum about being a POW and smashing things against the wall while Cindy held the baby wipes.  Then imagine that the conservative magazine said that the picture conveyed on the cover was a critique on the rumors and jokes made on the left about McCain and they, not McCain, were the butt of the joke.  That they exaggerated so much because they wanted to convey the stupidity of the liberals and their beliefs about McCain.

    Would that have been successful satire?  Or would that be considered a failure because everyone took it badly while the people that you are critiquing are laughing their asses off because that is the picture of truth to them about the ultimate nature of McCain?

    This is why the New Yorker piece fails.  I don't think its something to be outraged about or even something that should paint it with a bad brush.  It is just something that kinda sucks.  lol

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