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Monday, July 14, 2008 

Americans not getting irony shocker.

The cliché is official then - Americans really don't understand irony, or at least, Barack Obama's campaign team doesn't. You can perhaps imagine why their campaign might not like the New Yorker's front cover because some of those who don't get the joke (or who do, but will cling to it as a propaganda tool) might use it against them, but to call it "tasteless and offensive" seems to show that the ones who don't get it are also those whom it was meant to appeal to.

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Not really. It's possible to get that it was *intended* as irony and, by simply repeating right-wing talking points rather than actually sending them up, has served zero satirical purpose. Plus, it's entirely unrelated to the story inside (which is about Obama's background in Chicago) - can't help feeling that the editors just wanted an excuse to splash frankly racist imagery on their cover and hide behind how Clever and Progressive and post-modern-hipster-ironic they are. So...what other images and tropes do right-thinking lefties have carte blanche to distribute? Cartoons of gay newlyweds spending their honeymoon raping children, or of a hook-nosed Joe Lieberman cackling and sitting atop a huge pile of money? Images of a sexualised Michelle Obama being lynched and Hillary Clinton being portrayed as a crazy angry woman to discredit her? Oh wait...

I have to agree with Vermilliona. The intention may have been 'satirical' but essentially the New Yorker has given racists and the sort of right-wing hysterics that thrive on this bs their dream image. You might get the joke, but there's a whole lot of people that won't. (And no, I'm not arguing for some sort of 'the proles won't get it so best not do it' self-censorship, but perhaps a little more preparation on the part of the mag for the OBVIOUS upset the cover would cause, and an acceptance that whatever their intentions, upset HAS been caused instead of basically rolling their eyes at everyone).
If you take a look at the broader reaction by the u.s left-wing blogosphere (e.g. racialicious, feministe, even Daily Kos and Pandagon, themselves no strangers to this sort of 'It's post-modern irony stupid' idiocy) you'll find that there are a lot of reasons why this cover is hugely problematic for a lot of people, not least of all that many non-white americans who may be(and indeed are)in all reasonableness offended by the cover, and the damaging sterotypes it perpetuates are going to be put on the defensive again. You know, sort of forced to don the mantle of, ooh I dunno, the 'angry black woman' perhaps?
Also, Bag News Notes, which is pretty good at analysing the meanings behind the images various media outlets use, does a pretty good job of covering all the reasons the image fails as parody as well.

Me too. The story it refers to is not about Obama's misrepresentation at the hands of the right, and so it lacks a mooring. It needs something like John Mccain thinking it, or mad bloggers.

Afraid I disagree with you all, and so do these people:



And please, let's drop the idea that it's racist. If this is racist, even the most timid satire or stereotyping can be considered so.

I really don't see the point of the cartoon. Its a straight illustration of the virulent memes spread by the GOP (I've seen the emails, and I have enough family in the US to know that people are buying this stuff). How, other than context, is it ironic? Seriously? It wouldn't be ironic if it was on the front cover of the National Review (or New Republic for that matter). It only works as irony if you understand that the New Yorker is a sophisticated, elitist and liberal rag - so for 99% of Americans who don't know that, its not ironic. When most Americans see it out of the corner of their eye in the bookstore, it'll be just another reinforcing the stereotypes that the GOP is trying to push.

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