I was pondering the recent cover of the New Yorker today... the one showing a cartoon of Obama and his wife, standing in the Oval Office, doing the infamous "knuckle bump", which thanks to a Faux News talking head, I now know not to make this move in public, as it is considered a symbol of terrorism. News to me, guess my girls are terrorists...they've been "knocking and locking" for some time now. I better check them to see if they own any offending scarves.
Back to the cover, and the outrage it has caused. At first blush, I will admit I was aghast with the rest of them. I found the cover to be in totally bad taste. Then, the more I looked at the cartoon...the portrait of Osama hanging on the wall of the Oval Office, the American flag burning in the fireplace, how the Obamas were dressed...it was so over the top. It was depicting every stupid tin-foil hat e-mail I have gotten since Obama started his run for the White House. He's a Muslim. He doesn't respect the Flag. He supports terrorism. The only thing missing was a copy of the Qur'an sitting atop a desk that he probably would have place his hand upon during his swearing in ceremony if elected, according to the mass e-mails I've received.
To me, at least, it became very obvious that this cover was a comment on the innuendo, rumor, hearsay and out and out fabrication that has overshadowed this campaign. It was a image that pointed out all the gullibility of those who probably also believe in Nigerian money scams.
By the way, my local paper did print a political cartoon depicting Obama typing such and email scam to Clinton. Oh, the audacity!
The essayist Jonathan Swift described satire as "... sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own". Who's the butt of the joke? The subject, or the observer who doesn't get it?
But then, maybe it's me who "doesn't get it". Maybe the cover was in agreement of all those who never give a second thought to sending off a inflammatory e-mail to every contact in their address book in a knee-jerk fit of indignation? But that's what is so great, and maddening about satire. Good satire makes one think, then think again. Bad satire is "Beavis and Butthead". Then again, it's me who doesn't "get it", because I can't see the satire for the crudeness. It's all in the eye of the one holding the glass.
Sometimes a cigar is just a good smoke, and satire is just humor, albeit misplaced at times. I don't think that satire's role is to be humorous, if only to laugh at the human condition, and get it's goat while it's at it.