THAT NEW YORKER COVER….I blogged a few hours ago about Ryan Lizza’s Obama piece in the current issue of the New Yorker, but at the time I hadn’t seen the cover that went along with it. Now I have, because when I browsed through my RSS feed after dinner it turned out that the entire (liberal) world was pretty seriously pissed off about it.
I had two reactions, myself. To be honest, my first one was that it was kinda funny, a clever way of mocking all the conservative BS that’s been circulating about the Obamas.
But at the risk of seeming humorless, that reaction didn’t last too long. Maybe it’s because this kind of satire just doesn’t work, no matter how well it’s done. But mostly it’s because a few minutes thought convinced me it was gutless. If artist Barry Blitt had some real cojones, he would have drawn the same cover but shown it as a gigantic word bubble coming out of John McCain’s mouth — implying, you see, that this is how McCain wants the world to view Obama. But he didn’t. Because that would have been unfair. And McCain would have complained about it. And for some reason, the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame McCain is somehow seen as worse than the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame Obama.
So: gutless. And whatever else you can say about it, good satire is never gutless.