Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weighing In On the Whole New Yorker Thing

Tons and tons of people have had their say about the satirical New Yorker cover, saying that it's racist or offensive, that it fueled popular misconceptions and flat-out untruths about the Obamas, that it didn't succeed as satire for any number of reasons, or that it did succeed as satire, and would everybody just shut up already.

So far, my favorite has been Carolyn Kellogg's post at Jacket Copy about all the fiction writers, poets, and journalists whose work this week will reach a wider audience than it otherwise would have.

As for me, I didn't care for the cover. Is it satire? Sure, mission accomplished, crystal clear. But New Yorker cartoons and covers always strike me as decidedly smug, humorless, unfunny, dull, and most of the time, irrelevant and dated.

Cartoons in the New Yorker are like the jokes your rich, yet progressive Baby Boomer uncle saves up to tell at Thanksgiving dinner, and he thinks he's being so outrageous and such a card, so everyone just has to humor him and chuckle politely because it's Thanksgiving, and it's an institution and no one wants to cause any unpleasantness. So you quietly turn to Dad for Current Affairs, or maybe to Cousin Margot for a little Fiction, but as soon as you do, your uncle is right there interrupting the story with another crummy joke.

Actually, I think the artwork might have worked as the cover of a whole bunch of other publications, but because it was on front of the New Yorker, it just took on some of that publication's smug, humorless, unfunny taint.

For me anyways. I loathe New Yorker cartoons.

Brady says it's because I don't get them. I say, are they not funny because I don't get them, or do I not get them because they're NOT FUNNY?

Context is important to consider, though. If this artwork had appeared on the cover of the National Review or The New American, I imagine the outcry would have had a slightly different flavor.

Or maybe the NYT is onto something when they say that, with the exception of Stephen Colbert, white comedians and political humorists simply haven't figured out how to make Obama funny yet.


Brady said...

Well, I was being sarcastic when I said that.

I don't know if you got that or not.


Gwen said...

The only New Yorker cartoons I like are the ones on the back pages where readers caption them. The readers turn out to be way funnier than their professional cartoonists.

And I always hate their covers. I can tell that they're supposed to somehow be funny or whimsical, but they just strike me as...not even stupid--some other word that I can't quite think of that implies "thought to be clever but really just lacking a reason for existing."