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July 15, 2008

Comments

I agree -- the whole controversy is a tempest in a teapot. Humorists are always pushing the boundaries to be funny, and sometimes their humor falls flat. Whether you think the artwork funny or not, it's not a political issue. De gustibus non est disputandem.

I still can't figure out why anyone thinks the NY cover is even slightly funny. See:

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/002437.html

Brian: me neither. -- For the record, I wouldn't have thought it was funny of the National Review had simply run this cover either (simply = in the absence of the New Yorker cover.)

McCain isn't really old, and he never really said "Bomb, bomb Iran," and Cindy didn't really ever have a pill problem, and Cheney's potrait would never really be displayed in a federal building. So it's totally the same as the Obama doodle. Granted, I am an irony-challenged literalist.

Where are the the Vietnamese captors implanting the "Manchurian Candidate" chip in his skull while he enjoys a three way with his wife and Vicki Iseman while his wheel chair bound wife looks on, wearing tattered rags? That's the equivalent.

I do think the drooling and Constitution in the fire are nice touches.

To underline Margarita's point- the equivalency between the two on any level is zero. One is an hyperbolic version of the truth and the other is contrary to fact. They both may be presented as satire of the other side's views, but I think this just shows how much the discourse is skewed in one direction to even contemplate any equivalency.

Warning: In accordance with the updated posting rules, this disclaimer is intended to demonstrate that my opinion below, while potentially unpopular, does not constitute a ‘drive-by’ insult, which may cause the silencing of this man’s opinion. The evidence to support this particular viewpoint includes:

(1) I bet my prediction will turn out to be correct.

Sensitive people should stop reading now.

I predict that McCain will not get upset about his cartoon. Only Muslims get upset about cartoons.

The problem with the New Yorker cover is the only way you know it is satire is that it appears on the cover of a magazine that we all know isn't pro-McCain or anti-Obama. There are no internal clues present in the piece itself which hint at irony or satire.

Otherwise it is just a straight up racist cartoon.

The problem there is that a cover will be seen by all sorts of people who don't really know the context (and may not even register it as "The New Yorker" at all if they don't buy it). So basically you get a very racist depiction out there, without a clear enough context for the casual viewer to disarm the apparent racist message.

It is almost as if the artist takes post-modernism too seriously: a text will be viewed in different ways so that apparently absolves him from the responsibility of trying to help the viewer toward the proper interpretation. (Or perhaps the hard view that all interpretations are proper).

The evidence to support this particular viewpoint includes:

(1) I bet my prediction will turn out to be correct.

Ahhh... BOB's evidentiary standards in all their formal glory. This explains much, albeit little we'd not already inferred.

--

As to the prediction itself, should we thus conclude that any right-wing bloggers or pundits that do get upset by it and/or decry it as untoward and in very poor taste will be inadvertently outing themselves as deep-cover, secret Muslim moles?

Good point, Sebastian.

"But this is funny"

Yay, Dave Horsey. The only guy who ever turned me into the editorial cartoon of a major newspaper. Story told here and here.

Margarita & Pinko Punko, what exactly was the "truth" of which the original cartoon was a "hyperbolic version"?

As for Margarita's attempt at fact-checking:

McCain isn't really old
Well, he's rising 72. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/24/us/politics/24mccain.html
Life expectancy for babies born now is 79,http://www.nysun.com/national/american-life-expectancy-passes-78-years/79783/ younger for men, a lot younger for men born 72 years ago, younger still for men born 72 years ago who have sustained serious physical stress and cancer. He would be the oldest President ever. The previous oldest President distinguished himself in office by answering "I can't remember" in testimony even as to matters he had no reason to lie about. But nah, he's not old.

and he never really said "Bomb, bomb Iran,"
Except for the time he did.
http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/blogs/politicalticker/2007/04/mccain-sings-bomb-bomb-iran.html

and Cindy didn't really ever have a pill problem,

You mean, except for the one she discussed in national press interviews?
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/us_world/2007/06/18/2007-06-18_campaign_trail_will_be_nothin_for_cindy.html
Or did you mean it in the sense of, it's not a problem if you're rich?

and Cheney's potrait would never really be displayed in a federal building.

I don't expect you to believe me, but I have personally seen Cheney's portrait displayed in federal buildings. Not to mention, that picture seems to be showing them at home. Also, you may want to consider the concept of "symbolism" in cartoons, in which a picture is used as a shorthand for a concept. To start you off, an exercise: if Cheney's portrait is where you would expect to see Bush's, what message might that encapsulate? For extra credit, compare to Obama wearing Muslim garb.

I am an irony-challenged literalist.

Well, no. A "literalist" has some nodding acquaintance with the truth. Perhaps you meant a shorter word starting with "l"?

"I still can't figure out why anyone thinks the NY cover is even slightly funny."

First of all, humor is subjective, so that's that.

"McCain isn't really old,"

He was born on August 29, 1936. Whether that makes someone "old" is also a subjective opinion, but he's legally a senior citizen, and would be the oldest person ever elected President, at age 72. What age do you suggest someone starts being "old" at?

Cindy McCain.

"and Cheney's potrait would never really be displayed in a federal building."

Here he is in the State Department.

"and he never really said "Bomb, bomb Iran,"

Curious. Is this video a hoax?

Warning: In accordance with the updated posting rules, this disclaimer is intended to demonstrate that my opinion below, while potentially unpopular, does not constitute a ‘drive-by’ insult, which may cause the silencing of this man’s opinion.

Antic and humorous, with an imagination full of interlocking, self-referential tropes. Kind of paranoid, but without the fearfulness. Embracing and even enjoying the claustrophobic perfection of the closed circle formed by his own thoughts.

Reading BOB is like encountering a character from a Thomas Pynchon novel in real life. It's like watching someone unfold paranoid delusion like a flower, as a form of performance art.

Spellbinding.

Thanks -

@ trilobite & Gary Farber:

Pretty sure Margarita was being sarcastic, attempting to highlight how the two different cartoons are not analogous at all. Which makes Horsey's text and point disingenuous.

Um, trilobite and Gary, I believe that Margarita was using irony. The magnitude of misunderstood irony keeps growing. Perhaps nobody should ever attempt irony again. Ironically enough, if I tried to be ironic here, I would violate my own recommendation.

Gary and Trilobite, I suggest rereading the comments by Margarita and Pinko Punko, this time allowing for the possibility that they believe the cartoon containing an exaggerated version of the truth is the one about McCain, and that Margarita's fact checking is sarcastic.

Er..., Erasmussimo, and KCinDC: I was about to write a comment to that effect, but then I thought: what if trilobite and Gary are themselves being ironic, in keeping with the "irony-challenged literalists" theme? Then I spiralled into a black hole of self-referentiality, from which no coments could emerge.

If the New Yorker wanted to satirize the wingnuts and paid Repub operatives who revel in lies, distortions and hate, shouldn't they have been the subject of the cartoon rather than Barak and Michelle?

Poor comparison in my opinion. 1) "John McCain is older than Moses" is a well established joke -- Obama is a secret Muslim terrorist is a firmly established belief of at least 20% of the country (60 million people). 2) "McCain = Bush" is also pretty well established. 3) Being a pill popper is acceptable behavior.

A better comparison would be to show McCain in Vietnam War era military dress shooting children in the back. While it is a 30+ year old reference, it is still very insulting to a broad swath of the populace - military members replacing the blacks/Muslims being insulted in the NYer cover, it would be something completely untrue but (at least at the time) widely believed - McCain, as a member of the military, wantonly killing innocents replacing Obama, as an African-American/Muslim destroying the country.

That sort of inverse would piss me off too, and I wouldn't find it funny.

The biggest clue that this cover was a complete flop for satire and the NYer is that most of the people defending this cover are the ones that should be feeling lampooned. Michelle Malkin, instead of feeling like an idiot for saying that was a "terrorist fist bump," is out on her blog decrying the liberals for being against the cover.

It's like rain on your wedding day, isn't it?

If the New Yorker cover was meant to be provocative, then it succeeded.

The McCain cartoon strikes me as sophmoric -- making fun of his age is easy and obvious, which isn't to say it isn't grist for humor: I find it funny, and pathetic, that the man can't even use a computer. My 9-year-old son nearly jumped out of his seat when he heard the news account of that.

I haven't posted here for a while, so if I may go off-topic for a moment . . . Am I the only one who found it odd that the ACLU's claim of a million names being on the Terror Watch List had no legs?

The fact that Homeland Security responded by saying the Watch List contains "only" 400,000, to me, speaks volumes.

Only 400,000?

Who are these people? And where do they live? And what does one have to do to get on this list?

btfb! Long time no see; glad to have you back.

Who are these people? And where do they live? And what does one have to do to get on this list?

Some of them are people who have names that are "similar" to someone else whose name is already on the list. Some of them are people who were actually involved in terrorism at some point in the past. Others are people who have fallen under suspicion for who know what. One major problem is that it is easy to get added to the list, but no one wants to take responsibility for removing names from the list (what happens if there was an attack and you were the official who remove the terrorist's name?), so the list only grows longer over time.

Bruce Scheiner has written about the absurdity of the list; we have a list of people so dangerous that they must never be allowed on a plane and yet nowhere near dangerous enough to arrest when they show up at the airport and present themselves to uniformed government officials.

Note also that each airline maintains its own private no-fly list, mostly to deal with abusive passengers.

I thought some people might appreciate a link to Republican congresscritters getting angry at cartoons.
http://us.macmillan.com/thetencentplague

"I thought some people might appreciate a link to Republican congresscritters getting angry at cartoons."

Except you won't find anything there about that. In the book, yes; at that URL, no.

Try, say, here.

The funny thing is that in the Seventies, Wertham discovered science fiction fanzines, and fell in love with them, and started writing to us folks who did them, and researching them. I had several mail exchanges with him; he went on to write this mediocre little book, which had a lot of errors, but which was wholly sympathetic.

It didn't begin to make up for his great crimes against comic books, of course, but it's an odd footnote to the whole thing.

Personally, I look at the whole Great Comic Book Scare of the Fifties, which changed the lives of friends of mine, as well as the course of comics history, and U.S. mass market publishing history, and pop culture (and led indirectly to the creation of Mad Magazine as a magazine, rather than a comic, as an inadvertent benefit), as just another in the ever-ongoing series of cultural panics, as our society successively hysterically picks on some Threat To The Youth, be it Frank Sinatra, jazz, comics, rock music, drugs, violence and sex in movies, or today's incarnation, video/computer games.

The First Amendment is intended to prevent exactly all that, to protect threatened speech, but always most people are ready to throw that out the window to Save The Children.

"I thought some people might appreciate a link to Republican congresscritters getting angry at cartoons."

And, actually, I'd have to say that editorial cartoons, and comic books, particularly horror comics books, aren't particularly the same thing.

Erasmussimo at 2:32, was the post from Er at 2:31 meta-irony by you? We're all getting a bit too recursive for me to follow.

If Margarita was being ironic, she hid it even better than the original cartoon, and w/out the reputational context that allowed one to read irony into the NYer cartoon. On a closer look, I think PP was joining in what he perceived as Margarita's irony, but I'm not at all sure he was right about her. The problem, as always, is that there actually are trolls that stupid, and text is a narrow bandwidth medium. The use of non-text characters to signify tone of voice can avoid much confusion.

Erasmussimo at 2:32, was the post from Er at 2:31 meta-irony by you? We're all getting a bit too recursive for me to follow.

If Margarita was being ironic, she hid it even better than the original cartoon, and w/out the reputational context that allowed one to read irony into the NYer cartoon. On a closer look, I think PP was joining in what he perceived as Margarita's irony, but I'm not at all sure he was right about her. The problem, as always, is that there actually are trolls that stupid, and text is a narrow bandwidth medium. The use of non-text characters to signify tone of voice can avoid much confusion.

Warning: I'm going to teeter on the edge of civility here.

Brick Oven Bill, it's not just that you're often wrong about things. (You are.) It's that you're wrong in a way that's less like, "Huh, I didn't know George Segal played the banjo" and more like, "I am really an unrepentant ignoramus."

So I'm going to do you a favor, giving you that benefit of the doubt and assuming that you're simply uninformed, because the alternative is that you are simply an unreconstructed bigot.

- Dr. Frederick Wertham has already been discussed above. You may not be aware that the crusade against comics of which he was such a large part included demonstrations and book burnings. By children. Fewer than five years after our victory over the Axis powers. (There was also a whiff of anti-Semitism about the whole thing, given the prominence of Catholic organizations in the whole movement and the number of Jewish writers, artists and publishers in the industry.)

- Rev. Donald Wildmon successfully got an episode removed from air of Ralph Bakshi's New Adventures of Mighty Mouse, claiming that the episode depicted Mighty Mouse snorting cocaine.

- Rev. Jerry Falwell famously launched an historic lawsuit against Hustler magazine for something that, while not a cartoon, clearly falls into the tradition of the New Yorker cover and fantasy National Review being discussed.

- Catholic League gadabout William Donohue launched a hue and cry over South Park's depictions of Jesus and Christianity. And has done the same about umpteen million other cartoons.

I could go on and on, but I trust I've made my point. Lots of non-Muslims "get upset" about cartoons, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the majority of those who "get upset" are Christians.

if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the majority of those who "get upset" are Christians.

In the US, sure. In the Middle East? Worldwide overall?

Less clear.

In the US, sure. In the Middle East? Worldwide overall?

Less clear.

...however, now that you've offered a complex question for us to respond to everything is clear.

IOW, please to be offering some reason to counter the assertion, rather than a proof-by-interrogative-assertion.

"I could go on and on, but I trust I've made my point. Lots of non-Muslims "get upset" about cartoons, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the majority of those who "get upset" are Christians."

A lot gets swept under "get upset" in that sentence. It apparently ranges from being annoyed and saying so all the way to killing people with no discrimination between different types of "get upset" right?

It's like rain on your wedding day, isn't it?

It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, and then you get shivved in the ribs in the prison yard.

"I could go on and on, but I trust I've made my point. Lots of non-Muslims "get upset" about cartoons, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet that the majority of those who "get upset" are Christians."

A lot gets swept under "get upset" in that sentence. It apparently ranges from being annoyed and saying so all the way to killing people with no discrimination between different types of "get upset" right?

Crackers.

I may have missed the riots and murders regarding the recent Eucharist flap. I'm having trouble finding them on google. Could you link please?

Seb,

You've convinced me. Those Muslim barbarians really are uncivilized. I hope they follow our example and internalize the notion that true justice can only come from invading and destroying countries completely unrelated to those that attacked you.

I like Tom Tomorrow's two takes, myself.

A lot gets swept under "get upset" in that sentence. It apparently ranges from being annoyed and saying so all the way to killing people with no discrimination between different types of "get upset" right?

If you've got a problem with the phrase "get upset," Sebastian, take it up with Brick Oven Bill, not with me, as it's his phrasing. ("I predict that McCain will not get upset about his cartoon. Only Muslims get upset about cartoons.") Do you think that Brick Oven Bill meant to imply that there is a possible set of circumstances under which McCain and/or his supporters would start riots and lynch cartoonists, or did he perhaps have a rather wide range of upsetness implied in the phrase?

If you're discontented with the range of possibilities covered by the phrase, well, I can only hit the pitches I'm thrown, you know? Had I changed "get upset" to some nonequivalent phrase, you'd probably be complaining about goalposts being moved.

Alternatively, you could RTFT and quit trying to play "Gotcha!" or Perry Mason or whatever it is you think you're doing, but that's probably too much to ask.

And just so I know what I'm arguing with here, Sebastian, please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following two statements:

1. "Only Muslims get upset about cartoons" CHECK ONE Y____ N______

2. "Get upset" means exactly the same thing as "riot and murder."
CHECK ONE Y____ N______

"If you've got a problem with the phrase "get upset," Sebastian, take it up with Brick Oven Bill, not with me, as it's his phrasing."

Yes but if you know that makes sense in the context of his comment assuming that you are aware of the fact that the 'upset' regarding the cartoons involved rioting and killing while the other 'upset' didn't.

Maybe I'm overreading, but it seemed obvious to me that he raised it specifically to make that contrast. Your responses however don't appear to recognize that. So when you raise points about Christians getting 'upset' and there being more of them being 'upset' (which I'm very skeptical of BTW for any given level of 'upset'), it ends up reinforcing BrickOven's apparent point rather than refuting it.

That isn't 'gotcha'. You kinda tried to play gotcha with him and got yourself instead.

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