New Yorker: Only for Really Cool People (Update)

Ann Althouse had a picture of the cover of The New Yorker.  And I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a really groovy New Yorker too.

Ann’s question is what should Obama do about this cover, laugh it off or get “surly”.  She appears to come out on the laugh it off side.  But for many of us, myself included, I had some trouble figuring out what message this cover was intended to send.

The [Obama] campaign adds:

The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.

Apparently, I’m not the only one trying to get the point.  But remember, this is The New Yorker, and it is only read by ultra-hip, uber-cool, chi-chi-oozing people.  So that means that no one except that group of 12 (possibly 13 if Norm Pattis is in town) will understand the point in any event.

The oddity is that, as explained by the magazine staff, its intent is to lampoon right-wing critics.  Did anybody at The New Yorker consider that maybe, just maybe, the rest of us non-groovy folks will see it differently, and that there could even be a whole bunch of people, in such really uncool places as Nebraska and Ohio, who will view this as confirmation of their concern that he doesn’t have the middle name “Hussein” for nothing?

Really cool New Yorkers tend not to care much for Republicans, because they are not awesome or ginchy.  But sometimes, really cool New Yorkers outsmart themselves, putting out something so brilliant, so intriguing, so deep, that nobody gets it.  And sometimes, when nobody get it, they get something out of it that isn’t intended at all, and actually cuts the other way.  Methinks this may be just such a time.

I bet the New Yorker’s reaction to this suggestion is that if those anti-hip people can’t figure out who they are satirizing, then they are just too stupid to be worthy of their very cool attention.  I agree completely, except for one problem:  There are just so darn many of them, and they vote.

Update:  Apparently, Walt Handelsman has his issues too.  Maybe I’m not crazy?


14 comments on “New Yorker: Only for Really Cool People (Update)

  1. Anne

    As a mere really cool Ohioan, I can only say that my issue has not yet arrived in the mail. When it does, I expect that my brother, who still needs convincing that Obama is not a Muslim (but who nevertheless has not attempted to vandalize, remove, or otherwise compromise our Obama yard sign), will probably flip out if he sees it.

    With any luck, the dog who likes to eat magazine covers as they slide through the mail slot will get to it first.

    Failing that, we’ll just tell him it’s a NY thing, he wouldn’t understand (and that we don’t, either).

    For the record: Obama should have laughed it off. Shocked chagrin never looks cool.

  2. Dave

    You are accusing the New Yorker of elitism, while simultaneously suggesting that regular Americans are too dumb to understand that the cover is a satire.

    Well played, sir.

  3. Andrew G

    At first glance, it reminded me more of Angela Davis fistbumping Muammar Gaddafi. But it only takes a couple of cocktails to salve their embarassment.

  4. david giacalone

    The PC Police are the problem. Even this Schenectadian (recently called a Backwoods Hillbilly by a Hillaryite) immediately figured out that the cover included virtually all of the mis-interpretations floating around about Obama’s life and positions. There is no reason to protest this cover. The New Yorker should not dumb itself down for those who don’t get satire or those who are far too vigilant against slurs. See my “winkie” edition of the cover for visual assistance.

    Meanwhile, I love watching Scott trying to balance his Man-of-the-People Schtick with his own brand of Good-Guy-Elitism.

  5. SHG

    Life is all about balance.  But my problem is that the cartoon misses the mark on satire (or as one commenter at Althouse’s said, it’s just “leaden”), feeds into those who are disinclined to put in the effort to understand (and it does take some effort for country lawyer like me, even if you Schenectadians hipsters get it on the first glance, and, bottom line, it’s just not very good.

    My issue isn’t that “ordinary people” are too stupid to get it.  My issue is that the “satire” is so poor and strained that no ordinary person (read intelligent) will bother to try.  It’s just not worth it.

  6. david giacalone

    Good satire should take at least a few moments to register — perhaps after the initial “hey, that’s too . . . . .” I’m afraid that far too many liberals and other Democrats are just far too worried about offending various groups to give the satire and humor a chance, so they dismiss it as not up to the standards of similar New Yorker covers. If their favorite little whipping boy Georgie W. was the butt of the joke, they would lean over backwards to get the point and enjoy it.

  7. SHG

    How long does it take for bad satire to register?

    I’m not an Obama supporter or a Bush supporter, and I may occasionally offend some individual or group.  I didn’t find it offensive, just not good satire. 

  8. Joel Rosenberg

    By far. “Michelle and I were just chuckling at this at breakfast; we’ve written the artist and asked if we could buy a full-sized reproduction for the bedroom. The Lincoln bedroom.”

  9. Legal Advice

    Regardless of whether this ad is offensive or not…or bad satire or not, these type of depictions DO have an effect on people and their perceptions of a candidate…the effect is subconsious and beneath the surface but it’s none the less there. Particularly when done as poorly as this one was!

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