What readers know about that New Yorker cover.

What's happening in our readers' forum.
July 17 2008 9:51 AM

Fist Jabs, Satire, and the Last Private Places on Earth

What readers know about that New Yorker cover.

Fray poster Expectator had a way to solve the whole New Yorker cover controversy:

Put the same drawing on a TV screen with the Fox emblem in the corner and a pair of couch potatoes parked in front of it--put that on your cover, and you've got satire.

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And howlless was equally clear:

Any satire that can be easily used to further the viewpoint it's trying to satirize, is, by definition, a failure. The New Yorker cover fails abysmally.

Readers read the articles—in "Press Box" and "XX Factor" and "Politics"—and came to have their say. These are Slate readers: Whatever their politics, 95 percent of them know that they are against racism, stereotypes, and dirty tricks. But where exactly did this cover come on the spectrum? And what else did they know?

Many knew they were uneasy with the cover but found it hard to define the reason. Quietbelow was unusually exact and put it well:

Satire is usually framed around the actual person or institution being satirized…Obviously the point here, assuming there's nothing sinister going on, is to satirize false information. But it's an extremely awkward proposition to satirize false information about a given person by actually depicting that person. There's a cognitive disjoint, because historically the satire should depict the subject of satire, but here it's Obama, who, again, assuming the best, is actually not the target.

S/he then went on to say,

I think it was a silly decision to publish it because it could be so easily misused and was so awkward in its general execution…Awful, horribly offensive? Of course not. Stupid? Yes. Though I have a feeling that the editorial staff on the magazine would fear the latter designation more than the former.

Some readers had philosophical concerns—this is tubbs, who knows a good reason to leave the whole issue be: