Comments: The New Yorker Cover

I didn't find it funny per se -- Not in the sense of Berkeley Breathed, Gahan Wilson or Gary Larson.

But then funny is in the experiences of the beholder.

Posted by Labiche at July 14, 2008 02:11 PM

It's funny, but probably not to most Americans. The country of Twain, Thurber, Benchley and Southern now has the sense of humor of a sullen junior high school kid, and that includes J. Goldberg. What a shame. Those people used to have such a sense of humor, from Benny to Bruce.

Posted by donescobar at July 14, 2008 02:19 PM

It reminds me of the political cartoons in the Onion, actually.

Posted by Constantine at July 14, 2008 03:02 PM

New Yorker? I don't subscribe to or read it.

Posted by Mike Meyer at July 14, 2008 03:37 PM

i'm not offended or bothered by it. i just don't think its funny or clever in the least. pretty obvious and lame, really.

Posted by caseymcg at July 14, 2008 04:20 PM

Oh, I dunno. It does catch the spirit among our conservatives to sees the potential in every Black of a Black Panther.
Not all that bad.

Posted by donescobar at July 14, 2008 04:26 PM

to see, above

Posted by donescobar at July 14, 2008 04:27 PM

"pretty obvious and lame, really."

Have you ever seen a New Yorker cartoon that isn't?

Posted by Paul Avery at July 14, 2008 06:25 PM

It's crass and not clever at all, unless packing a whole bunch of racist stereotypes into one cartoon defines cleverness.

What's next? Olmert eating Palestinian babies and Goldberg telling us how "exceedingly funny" it is.

Also, the cartoon misses the point of these stereotypes. "He's muslim! He is unpatriotic! His wife is angry!" These are all codewords for "He is black!" No one will say "I don't vote for blacks" but it's OK to say "I don't vote for America haters." Since no presidential candidate has ever "hated America," the latter is simply code for the former.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 14, 2008 06:54 PM

Just kinda stupid, really. Not funny.

Then again, it's about the same problem with most American comedy these days anyway.

Posted by En Ming Hee at July 14, 2008 07:56 PM

How can you say New Yorker cartoons are lame?

Posted by Dirk at July 14, 2008 08:19 PM

Lordy, there is a place for humor that offends, including Blacks, Jews, gays, Yalies, gimps, Quakers. WASPS, the transgendered and the non-transgendered. Much of it may not be funny, but then much humor always flops, much more so today, I agree.
But this cover mocks a moronic perception of Blacks. Whether or not it succeeds may be argued, but sure as hell isn't racist by poking fun at racist stereotypes.

Posted by donescobar at July 14, 2008 08:35 PM

It was pretty funny as a cover. As a cartoon inside it wouldn't work.

Posted by Seth at July 14, 2008 08:59 PM

I think the picture is perfectly fine. It doesn't make me laugh out loud, but I don't really find the New Yorker all that funny in the first place. What's said is that it's getting a lot of negative reaction from the left.

I think the main tip off for this thing is the bump that Michelle and Obama are doing front and center in the image. This gesture caused a lot of embarrassing publicity for the neo-cons who tried to paint it as some anti-White, anti-American terrorist code and became famous as an example of the misplaced fears of right about Obama. It's prominence in the center sends a clear message to the average New Yorker read (who probably isn't some pinko, baby-killing leftist) that the entire affair is satire.

But instead of focusing on that, we get the left declaring (which is the only side I've heard so far) declaring that it's bad art, distasteful, and crass. When did we lose our sense of humor?

Posted by Constantine at July 14, 2008 09:04 PM

Donescobar: Who said it was racist? I haven't seen anyone make that accusation.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at July 14, 2008 09:06 PM

The comparison of this sucking mess of unfunny slanders and racist caricatures to anything written by Twain upthread made me die a little inside.

I think I'll have a drink now. And possibly cry myself to sleep.

Posted by NonyNony at July 14, 2008 09:07 PM

Caricatures of black people? Oh, this time it's different... Because all those other times through out history it was making fun of... Oh it's satire, you say? Ha ha. I get it.

It must be okay because my smart white friends told me it was.

I wonder if black people who work at the New Yorker think it's okay (Their honest opinion, not the one they give their white co-workers so as not to make them feel guilty or uncomfortable).

Posted by Rob T. at July 14, 2008 10:35 PM

I wonder if black people who work at the New Yorker think it's okay (Their honest opinion, not the one they give their white co-workers so as not to make them feel guilty or uncomfortable).

I don't want to go into it too much, but just wanted to say that I work there, and a lot of people, black, white and otherwise, are uneasy, unhappy, or upset about the choice the mucky-mucks made, and we're all pretty honest with one another about it.

Weirdly, some black friends had the crazy idea that white media types, historically and presently, are pretty quick on the draw when it comes to caricaturing prominent black folks. Yeah, it's nuts.

Me, I mostly just think it's clunky and I don't like Blitt's art on a good day. But I see their point.

Posted by a guy at July 14, 2008 11:50 PM

Also, thanks Jon for establishing the Goldbergian standard of anti-funny.

Posted by a guy at July 14, 2008 11:57 PM

Context is the issue. Since you can't use real issues to harshly characture rightwingers, false issues aren't particularly amusing. It's almost anti-humor, the inverse of Adlai Stevenson's quote:

"I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends. . . that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."

The problem with the cover is that it doesn't go far enough to be absurd -- that is partially because, of course, right-wing lies are so absurd. To go further would undermine decorum, but that's the point. Part of the advantage of the rightwing's lies is to bring the discourse down to the gutter. If the New Yorker had been that absurd, they would be accused of directly assaulting Obama. They have a rep for dry humor, not Oninon-level silliness.

I don't think it was distasteful or crass. It was just crappy.

And the New Yorker does seem like it would be more comfortable doing this to black people than to whites.

Posted by No One of Consequence at July 15, 2008 12:05 AM

And a

fellow cartoonist's take on it
is worth reading.

Posted by No One of Consequence at July 15, 2008 12:15 AM