16 July 2008

Covering One's Funny Bone

I realize I'm throwing in my two-bits a bit too late on this whole New Yorker bad-taste-as-satire cover thing, but an article on Salon yesterday really got me irritated. It made two really offensive accusations: 1) Rush Limbaugh was right (about anything), and 2) Democrats have lost our collective sense of humor. Let me tell you, I can find the funny in just about anything. That cover wasn't funny. The more I looked at it, the more gobsmacked I became.

First of all, the cover does nothing more than serve up the Republican right a poster for their Anti-Obama campaign. Whether people in that Manhattan office realize it, outside their insulated bubble, bigotry is alive and well. The right uses nothing but fear to send voters to the booth. The cover decision was just an incredibly dumb act performed by some well-educated, supposedly cultured high-brows. And a perfect example of what kills me about the Democrats: We will shoot ourselves in the foot well before the other side can lob a Nerf ball at us. People, are the last eight years not enough for you? Jeebus. Give me a break even if you won't give one to Barack.

Secondly, but more importantly, the couple portrayed on the cover have children. By that, I don't simply mean "offspring" who will be doing some underage drinking in high-profile bars in the next week or two, but little girls. In primary school. In this case especially, satire needs to take a step back and become a bit more sensitive.

Imagine for a second that Ebony magazine did a "satirical" cover of, say, men donning yarmulkes dancing gleefully around piles of money? Or a priest convention taking place at a boys' school in Thailand? There would be one hell of an uproar if they went for that kind of "humor". Should the New Yorker expect any less? I'm certainly offended. And, had I a subscription, I would certainly cancel it. Fortunately for InStyle, Shape and Fitness, the closest they get to satirical humor is what they do with PhotoShop.

Certain things will just never be funny. I don't see a wave of 9/11 standup routines. Concentration camp humor hasn't made its way to the stage. There are no jokes about the day JFK or MLK Jr. were shot. If there are, I don't want to hear them. But if Pain plus Time really does equal Funny, then the New Yorker's biggest mistake was not waiting to do this cover after Obama takes the oath. Then all that cover would have said to the Republican right was: Gotcha!

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