Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Cover: Satire or Parody?

I hesitate to give this cover anymore 'coverage' than it already has. But it's out there, so there's outrage that needs to be talked about.

There's satire. And then, there's parody.

Satire: sat·ire Audio Help /?sæta??r/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[sat-ahyuhr] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
  1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
  2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn
  3. derision, or ridicule. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Parody: par·o·dy Audio Help /?pær?di/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[par-uh-dee] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -dies, verb, -died, -dy·ing.
  1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet's soliloquy.
  2. the genre of literary composition represented by such imitations.
  3. a burlesque imitation of a musical composition.
  4. any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, as of a person, event, etc.
  5. the use in the 16th century of borrowed material in a musical setting of the Mass (parody Mass).
  6. a poor or feeble imitation or semblance; travesty: His acting is a parody of his past greatness.
  7. –verb (used with object)
  8. to imitate (a composition, author, etc.) for purposes of ridicule or satire.
  9. to imitate poorly or feebly; travesty.

Which is it?

Whichever it is, it pulls out all of the stops for the Republican bigotry machine.

Here's a list of zingers from BAGnewsNotes:
  1. Set in an Oval Office the revolutionaries have cleared of the desk (because revolutionaries don't do desks, so much as lairs), the self congratulations -- especially at this early, pre-convention stage of the campaign -- ascribes a massive sense of entitlement to the Obamas.

  2. Minus the eye contact of the actual fist bump in St. Paul (and adding the arched eyebrows), Angela Davis Obama's expression is transformed from "I love you" to "You're SUCH an evil genius, baby ... and no one ever caught on!"

  3. Besides Barack's pursed lips -- which have turned into code in the MSM for this arrogant (read: "uppity") black man -- the most damning element in this illustration, by far, is Obama's eye. The furtiveness lends the perfect Machiavellian effect, and the fact it's directed our way suggests we should really know better what this guy is up to.

  4. Of course, the gun, the ammo clip, the cammo pants and the crossed legs (like crossed fingers) suggest what an angry, war-like creature Michelle is.

  5. It's not just that Old Glory is on fire ("thank Allah I can finally toss that damn pin!"), the crumpled flag at floor level is reminiscent of the flag good old Bill Ayers was stepping on.
I am appalled! Why, when we finally have the conservative elites circling their wagons and taking their last-ditch stand, do the liberal elites still insist on lining up our firing squad in a circle? Can any body explain that to me?


  1. Yeah, I was against you publishing on this, Emily, as you know. But good job! Important issues are raised. My take is that 2008 is too important for fun & games. In the war of good vs. McBusheney, satire is fucked.

    (Pay attention, Stella!)

  2. Was it really necessary to reprint the cover?? The dull and ignorant do not need to see it even one more time. Let Cnn, Faux News and MSNBC make an issue of it.

  3. Emily, which is being more 'elitist'? The New Yorker's editor, David Remnic selecting and publishing David Remnic's cover? Or Mad Mike suggesting that the "The dull and ignorant" won't understand it for what it is?

    This question I pose without malice.

  4. And, look into this so-called Nation Against Insensitivity in Voting and Elections (NAIVE) Leaders Suzanne Birkenstock (23) and Walter Crocs (24) have decided that Obama should be gracious in victory, and agree to seek only a small margin of victory over Sen. John Sidney McCain III, the presumptive Republican nominee. Birkenstock emphasized her group does not want McCain to win, just that he shouldn’t be humiliated in defeat.

    It sounded unfair to me that one person running for president could have such a lopsided victory over the other person. It smacks of ‘piling on’,... Anyone who remembers going through grade school covered in dodgeball welts can appreciate the importance of not piling on... There is nothing wrong with being less popular, NAIVE merely wants the less popular candidate to be treated fairly.... Too much in our country is about popularity. Well, look at where that relentless pursuit of popularity has taken us... The Democratic Party stands for fairness. What better way to live that promise, than to avoid humiliating your opponent in 49-state electoral college sweep? That’s the NAIVE philosophy, so much respect for our adversaries that we want them to have a fighting chance.

    Other NAIVE strategies are to promote a policy of inclusion for independent and third party presidential candidates Ralph Nader, Bob Barr (Libertarian) and Cynthia McKinney (Green).

  5. Doc, here's an article in the same vein as NAIVE: Obama, McCain agree on many once-divisive issues in the Sunday LA Times.

  6. Speaking as one afflicted with an incurable (but not terminal) case of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), I say the only question is, will Obama beat Bush III as bad as he should. I want a fucking tsunami-sized landslide. Anything less will not administer a sufficient repudiation of Busheney to satisfy me. Without a point-spread, I would bet the farm against McCain.

    But those in the media (New Yorker types) are conspiring against the interests of the American people which lie in the direction of a 49-state electoral repudiation of unilateralism, militarism and authoritarianism. They want to make it a horse race. They, as in the article above, want to make night and day appear like the twilight zone. That is truly NAIVE.

  7. vigilante.... The cure for Bush Derangement Syndrome? Take two aspirin and call me November 10th.

    I think it's best not to over-react to a pro-Obama magazine runnng a pro-Obama cover.

    Here we have a magazine with an overwhelming pro-Obama agenda. The sweetheart piece between the covers all but coronates the new King.

    And, in their zeal to both promote Obama and skewer Obama's tin foil hat opponents, The New Yorker created a parody cover (Emily certainly called that one right) that was so "over the top" it actually failed to work. It was a dud.

    Their intentions were good; their execution sucked.

    Will the cover hurt Obama? Certainly not! Will "red state conservatives" miss the joke? Nope, a quick run through of the leading blogs shows they all got it.

    Ahhhh... but the over-reaction of the Obama campaign and his legion of followers who can only tolerate satire or parody aimed at the right, has solidified conservative's view that Obama and his followers are elitist cry-babies, hardly ready for rough and tumble Washington.

    If you think the New Yorker cover was tough... just wait until he is elected.

  8. Vig, I agree with you completely. I too want a landslide victory, so no one has the slightest chance to say it was rigged. I just put in my two cents worth at Slate. Now I'll have my espresso and biscotti. Looking forward to the sherry and cigar later in the day. We elites seem to be losing our sense of humor. But damn it, this one matters. I do believe a 10 p.m. curfew will cramp the style of many of us if Bush lll is the coming thing. Not me so much. After Bush got his second term, I just retired to my small gated compound with the guard dog watching over the territory, scaring the menfolk. It's peaceful, but a bit boring. I quit any serious banking long ago. Now I hide my assets for my 2 A. M. getaway for the Canadian border, with my Margaret Attword and my Leonard Cohen on the passenger seat, praying they'll let me in.

  9. I posted about this today as well - and I contend that this cover, had it been placed instead inside the magazine WITH the article it was illustrating - a rather well-written article that addresses the politics of fear and the absurdity of the attacks on Obama - then we would love the image. But taken out of context, as a stand-alone piece, the image is inflammatory and fails as satire, AND as parody.

  10. Stella. Stellar Stella. Late, but always, always, always worth the wait.

  11. Best to you, valiant vig. Satire saved my sanity in grad school. Every time I was about to punch walls while studying some arcane theoretical nonsense, I'd refer back to Book III, A Digression Concerning Critics, in Tale of a Tub. Perfect reading for disgruntled English majors.

    ...a true critic... a discoverer and collector of writers' faults... this ancient sect hath honoured the world... taken up with the faults, and blemishes, and oversights, and mistakes of other writers, and let the subject treated on be whatever it will, their imaginations are so entirely possessed and replete with the defects of other pens, that the very quintessence of what is bad does of necessity distil into their own..."

    Satire is art. Pay attention, Vig! ;L)

  12. Vigilante: I'm taking the cover down from the sidebar of my blog. I've enabled this nonsense to continue enough...Yes, let's have a landslide victory for Obama. Then, let's push him to keep his word on Iraq, healthcare, additional funding to take care of returning veterans, and housing.

  13. Macdaddy, way to go. There are far more important issues than a magazine cover. Most importantly, "let's push him to keep his word" and let's participate in the political process so the last eight years never happens again.

  14. My primary issue with the cover is that it is not funny, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is supposed to be a key element in satire.

  15. How 'bout caricature?

    verb:any imitation or copy so distorted or inferior as to be ludicrous.

  16. Hopespringsaturtle (I love that blog name...) Absolutely perfect term. Because of you, I can say, Vig (pay attention) to the difference between satire and charicature (sp?)

    Thank you for clearing that up so succinctly.

  17. From the Austin American Statesman, an example of a dignified apology which is open to The New Yorker:

    Editor's note: Netroots Nation story
    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Readers expect front-page stories to speak directly and clearly about events and issues. Eliminating the possibility of misunderstanding from our work is a critical part of our daily newsroom routine. When we communicate in a way that could be misinterpreted, we fail to meet our standards.

    Our front-page story Sunday about the Netroots Nation convention included doses of irony and exaggeration. It made assertions (that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might find herself at home politically in Beijing, for example) and characterizations ("marauding liberals" was one) meant to amuse. For many readers, we failed.

    In trying for a humorous take on the Netroots phenomenon without labeling it something other than a straightforward news story, we compromised our standards.

    — Fred Zipp, editor

  18. Stella, I knew that post on MadMike's would come back to bite me, and I expected your teeth, too!

    Not withstanding my incurable case of BDS, I hope that my sense of humor can recover its previous sense of balance. In maybe, 180 days. Until then, for me, it will all depend on who's ox is being gored.

    That's my short answer. ;-)