Like many people, when I first saw this NEW YORKER cover I was taken aback. I was both puzzled and offended that this usually insightful and intellectual magazine would publish such an image. I found myself thinking,
“Yeah, I get it, but those people out in . . . surely they won’t and it will only add to their misapprehension, or worse yet; give aid and comfort to their prejudice.”
Mine, of course was the standard, sophomoric, knee jerk reaction to any satire that may appear a bit too edgey or politically incorrect. My initial thoughts certainly appear to be the consensus view. But, after a whole day of listening to interviews and evaluations I have flip-flopped in my opinion. I have come to view this piece of comic criticism as brilliantly successful as to its intended purpose. Okay, I agree that it’s not funny at all, not even in a cleverly ironic sort of way. It is in fact just a caricature of the quite offensive racial, religious, and patriotic misconceptions that the Obamas’ struggle against everyday of this presidential campaign. But look what has happened. This illustration now comes with the controversy that it has spawned. It’s virtually impossible to hear about this cover or search for info without getting a mass of commentary as well. Is it enough to turn the hearts of the truly prejudiced ? . . . no. But does it succeed at its intended purpose of informing those individuals who may be harboring false impressions or at least engaging them in a conversation because of all of the thoughts, protests, and rectification that comes with ithe image? Well . . . maybe. And what more can you ask from a piece of satire?
Ed Petersen, Creative Director of American Public House Review