Oh America, where is thy appreciation of satire?


When it comes to satirical cartoons, they don’t get much better in the United States than The New Yorker.  Go to their website and you can order books of them.  Facebook will deliver one to you daily.  New Yorker = cartoons, satirical cartoons.

So, when I saw the cartoon on the latest cover, I laughed and thought “Well done.”  It seems not everyone got it, and even Barack Obama had to denounce it (whether he saw the humour or not).  My guess is that he is offended as much by how many people will not understand satire and how this cover might end up being used to fan the flames of doubt and intolerance. Call it “as seen through the eyes of a FOX”.

Let’s be clear, however.  Everything in the drawing is the satirical conclusion of all that has been thrown, so far, at Barack and Michelle Obama – a prominent portrait of Osama bin Laden (as if he and Barack are related); a burning American flag in the fireplace (as if anyone not wearing a flag pin on his chest or holiding his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem might just as well be doing so); Obama dressed in Muslim dress because an astonishing number of stupid people still believe he is a Muslim (and which is worse – that misconception or the prejudice behind the misplaced objection?); Michelle a no-nonsense warrior with the never-before-seen-in-middle-white-America “fist bump”.

Clearly America needs to learn about satire. An educated voter would be able to see the humour in much more than has been the case since George W. Bush was imposed on the world.

Jon Stewart’s work never ends.


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2 thoughts on “Oh America, where is thy appreciation of satire?

  1. The problem with satire is the audience needs to understand what is being targeted. Showing an image like this to ‘uneducated voters’ would not necessarily be satire. I doubt it would make people believe Obama was a flag burning disciple of Osama, but they might believe at first glance that The New Yorker believed it.

    It is interesting that the New Yorker’s audience in America seem to be the one’s protesting the loudest… there is a general feeling within that group, it seems, that the “NASCAR crowd” can’t be trusted to get the joke. Sort of like how certain white audiences will protest extra-loudly about a media depiction of a stereotypical black person to show how non-prejudicial they are.

  2. Thanks Gabriel.

    What worked in the illustration for me was that nearly every last lie about Obama, since the campaign began, was pilloried in an over-the-top way and, as someone from The New Yorker said, it’s not their job to explain what makes every image within the piece over-the-top.

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