Monday, July 14, 2008


If your satire needs footnotes, I'd say you didn't do a very good job of getting your point across in the first place. And this...

... clearly needed a footnote from the cartoonist before some people (left, right, and center) got it:

I think the idea that the Obamas are branded as unpatriotic [let alone as terrorists] in certain sectors is preposterous. It seemed to me that depicting the concept would show it as the fear-mongering ridiculousness that it is.

Or maybe I'm being stodgily pre-post-modern, or pre-post-Web-2.0, or something like that. I'm focusing on the cover illustration in isolation, when, in fact, the cartoon plus the artist's explanation of the cartoon plus everyone's reaction to the cartoon, including what I'm typing right now, is the totality of the work, a Cross-Platform Satire-Based Marketing Event, and we're all just shilling for Conde Nast whatever the hell we say about it. The combination of outrageousness and incoherence is what's brilliant about it, because we wouldn't keep talking about it if it actually got its point across. And we are talking about it. We may not like it, but we're soaking in it.

That's one reason I don't think it's a good idea to dwell on the damn thing. Another is that expressions of outrage -- ours and (especially) the Obama camp's -- are just gifts handed to Obama critics. What was Maureen Dowd just calling Obama? Oh yeah -- an "orchid" and a "hothouse flower." It does Obama no good to suggest that he's too fragile to shrug off stuff like this. If he were a Republican, of course, it would be no problem -- starting with Nixon, Republicans have mastered the art of playing the victim card and the macho-man card simultaneously, and Americans now just accept it as perfectly logical and consistent that their GOP heroes on white steeds are forever whining about bearded college professors and the liberal media. But Obama doesn't have that luxury. So he'd do well to treat this as beneath him and shrug it off.

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