Monday, July 14, 2008

Sad Day for Satire

Somewhere in editorial heaven, William Shawn is making a little note on the new New Yorker cover, scribbling in his tiny script, "What this?"

The cover of the July 21st issue is an artist's vision of the Oval Office with Michelle Obama with an AK 47 and Afro fist-bumping her husband in turban and Muslim dress to illustrate an article, "The Politics of Fear." The cover, the New Yorker explains, "satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign.”

In the chaotic 1960s and beyond, the legendary Shawn made his magazine an oasis of sanity with the best reporting of the time on the political, social and cultural upheavals over race, the environment, art, poverty and the depredations of the Nixon White House.

He was trying, Shawn explained, "to hang on to sanity and reasonableness, no matter how turbulent or fevered or lunatic the world became...and, through it all we've considered humor indispensable, and we've searched for it, clung to it, and nourished it as if our life depended on it--and I think it did."

Today, the Obama campaign isn't laughing, finding the new cover "tasteless and offensive." Sadly, I'm sure Shawn would agree.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to worry, I'm sure in the sense of fairness and balance we'll be seeing something on the cover of the New Yorker about "hotdog" McCain and the USS Forrestal.