Monday, July 14

don't hate

I am going to get into so much trouble for this.
Let me first say that I understand the gut reaction of those who thought this was a hateful and horrible cover.
I don’t. It really doesn’t bother me.
It is absolutely ridiculous. It is beyond even the racist emails I have gotten from my co-workers. Even they usually just focus on the Black, or Muslim, or no flag pin or , or , or, or. We’ve all gotten them; we all know what they say. There’s the white woman who says that she won’t vote for Barack because he’d put black people first. There’s the idiot with the "Black House" jokes and the people who would not believe he is a Christian if they baptized him themselves.
The idea that with this cover the New Yorker is joining them and not mocking them seems to me to be a little too much. When I first saw it I was looking for the darkened skin and larger lips, I was looking for features to be distorted (beyond the cartoonish to the lawn jockey a la Time Magazine and OJ Simpson). The first thing I saw though was the image of Michelle with the gun over her shoulder and I laughed and I thought, “Shit, That’s exactly what they’re afraid of!” People see a strong Black woman and automatically she’s some sort of Blaxpoitation Film heroine. Idiots.
As my eyes took in the rest of the details I got it. I wasn’t offended. I actually know someone who thinks that Barack's candidacy is a 'secret Muslim plot to give Osama Bin Laden control of the White House'. That's offensive. There isn't a damn thing that I can do to change his mind. Did he get that idea from the New Yorker? Nope. I really want to see his face when he sees the cover though. His deepest fears - in color.

I don’t see it as a reflection of myself as a Black woman or of the candidate that I support and his wife. I see it as a reflection of all the racist idiots out there who look at it and don't see a cartoon.
The fact that the cartoon is chock full of ridiculousness lets me not take it to heart. Then there’s the title, The Politics of Fear.
Is this what we should be boycotting? Is this what everyone is so upset about? Really? I have been going crazy nutso insane for the past months because there is so much blatant racism in this campaign that no one is calling anyone on. Every time some idiot quotes the 'terrorist fist jab' remark without calling it racist I have to remind myself that BP meds are expensive. There is a dent in my TV where I threw a coffee mug at Geroge Stephanopolous one Sunday when he was talking about people who were 'more racially sensitive’ and 'less racially sensitive'. C'mon George! Let's be honest: Racist vs Merely Prejudiced. Some honesty, please. What no one seems willing to say out loud is that there are people in this country (and not a small amount of them) who are racist. AND there is a machine in this country that has been running for years and is kept well oiled that keeps letting tiny pieces of the New Yorker cover slip into the American subconscious and trying to tell you that each one is true. They have to do it little piece by little piece because if they every put it all together, if they ever showed you the entire cover, people would see how ludicrous it is.
There are plenty of people out there who would like to stitch that cover together in the back of your mind while you sleep. They would weave it into your hopes and dreams and fear about yourself, your friends and your family. They would like to make you believe it. Someone needs to shine a super powered, glaring spotlight on them and watch them scatter like the vermin they are (Yes, Karl Rove, I am talking about you). This is more like a penlight, but still.
Instead we get pissed at the people making fun of them? We get pissed at the people who are calling them out and showing them for what they are? Fearmongers. Haters in the truest sense of the word.
I don’t think that offensive is always bad; I think there are a hell of a lot of people out there who need to be offended.
I don’t think that controversy is always bad; I have more fully defined my beliefs by defending them.
I don’t think that gut reactions are always bad; I trust them even while I question where they come from.
This time I'm not offended**, I like the fact that there is a national discussion about the internet rumours that inspired the cover because I think those things, like mold, flourish in the dark. My gut reaction was laughter because those are SO COMPLETELY NOT the Barack and Michelle Obama I have been working my ass off for for the last six months or so.
We don’t generally, as a nation or as people, really want to know what others think of us. Well, this cover represents what a lot of people think of the Obamas, and what a lot of people are spending a lot of time and money to make sure that they KEEP thinking about the Obamas. Yes, it is stupid and completely illogical, but it’s also true. That’s why it both is and isn’t funny. Ignoring it or tiptoeing around it, calling it 'racially insensitive', I don't think any of that helps.

Do we want to have it shoved into our faces? Nope.

Would we rather not have to talk about it? Sure. But I think we need to.

I’m not pissed at the New Yorker.

I’m pissed at the people they’re pissed at.
*i haven't talked to Mama or Papa G about this yet. they're probably as pissed at me as most of you are after reading this. i'll be talking to them tonight and i'll have an update for you tomorrow, minions.
** I'm STILL offended that the word Muslim is some kind of insult and that showing a man in Muslim dress is taken to be insulting. That's some general asshattery right there that I think we ALL need to check ourselves on.
who knew that Field Negro would agree with me? Read his comments section for a great discussion from all sides.


NoRegrets said...

I think it took a lot of balls or whatever the equivalent for females is for the editor to allow the cover to run. It really does bring everything out into the open.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Well I totally GET what they were trying to do, however the problem is that not very many people get it.

I think the cover was tasteless and offensive for sure, but then again America is not one for tasting the bile she spews. I also think the point was to be tasteless and offensive; it definitely has gotten some of those who think that to see how silly this caricature in their heads of the Obamas really is.

My point is would the New Yorker ever have put a cover out of HRC crushing male genitalia in her hands, Teeth clenched and spit dripping? See it just seems in the vein of righting racism it is ok to be offensive. We won't even talk about how it is a bit racist towards Muslim Americans. AB4AD

It’s like the art installation about him that was ordered down, that artist was trying to do the same thing.

On Big Man's page I likened it to the reason that Dave Chappelle dropped his mike, the satire gets lost on an America that really isn't READY. Make sense.

Just my take, I'm not outraged but I also don't really want to TALK about it other than to say...we ain't ready yet, New Yorker. These wounds are still open and festering and MANY believe that is EXACTLY what the white house will become if Barack is elected.

Good Post G!!


WNG said...

I think that the reasons you gave are exactly WHY the cover should have been printed, OG. Yes, the wounds are still raw, but if you just ignore them then they fester.

They might have done something about Hillary, but I honestly don't care whether they would have put Hillary in this specific pose or that one. This isn't about Hillary or how the New Yorker would have treated her.

I don't think that installation SHOULD have been taken down. I don't think that stopping conversation, even if you don't like what people are saying, is the way to move forward. So the next time someone wants to take on something controversial they will stop and think it over and maybe not make their art or their statement. Maybe you think that is a good thing, but I don't.

You keep bringing up Dave Chappelle, who I LOVE, but here's the difference, Dave dropped his own mike. He didn't let anyone force him out and if you'll think back there were a TON of people who were trying to. There were a TON of people who were saying that America wasn't ready and that the wounds were too raw, that he wasn't funny - he was offensive. And maybe to some people he was. But he decided when to walk away, he didn't let others decide that for him.

If we keep shutting up everyone who is trying to take on the lies out there and bring up the tough issues about how we all view each other then all we'll be left with is Fox news and it will be our fault.

Big Man said...

Great post.

I didn't have the same anger that some folks had, which is why I used my post to discuss the thought process behind the issue.

I personally just think the New Yorker assumed folks would get something that wasn't clearly explained. They were wrong because of the public's mindset and because of a poor job of execution.

Those are my thoughts.

WNG said...

NoR - It took some serious ovaries, but it was a calculated gamble. Controversy increases sales :-)

Oh, and OG, I think that lots of people get it. Plenty get it and don't like it, plenty get it and do like it, plenty get it and aren't saying anything because they've secretly thought exactly what they are now looking at. (I have it hanging up in my office and it's making people VERY uncomfortable - the people who send those mass emails about Muslim conspiracy theories)

Oh and a little bit racist towards Muslim Americans? PEOPLE ARE USING A RELIGION AS AN INSULT. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. That's a hell of a lot more than a 'little racist'.

Susan said...

Tru dat.

WNG said...

Big Man,

Like I said above, I think that the majority of people got it. The minority has been pretty vocal about it though.
BUT the more I read, the more people I hear from who not nly aren't offended, but either get it or don't care one way or the other.
I do think that there's a danger in letting the cover itself distract us from what the cover was commenting on.

Susan - duh.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Oh by no means do I think that the cover should be pulled or that the art installation should have been pulled. I don’t think the New Yorker should be boycotted or any of that jazz.

My thought is this fair is fair and if the New Yorker is allowed to publish this offensive satirical cover, then that artist should have been shut down. I don't think he should have. I don’t believe I ever said he should have. I thought one of the most sobering things was seeing the girls (Obama’s) daughters under the term Nappy headed ho’s. Because many racist (in denial) think that they can think one way about a black person but somehow magical give their black friend a pass. They don’t get thinking that you being educated and well spoken black person being an exception is a racist thought.

That is the problem, blacks are so use to people who hide behind comedy, satire, etc that they don’t know when to cry foul or foe or when to see the social outcry the message is trying to deliver. I mean after all black face was considered comedy, so was Step n Fetch It.

My reference to DC was more about the fine line of satire. That it is double edge sword that has consumed many a person trying to use it to start the race conversation. Dave put his mic down because America was not ready they didn’t get it. Sure he was offensive but I got him, didn’t make him any less offensive. I just wasn’t personally offended.

I think the cover can be both offensive and satirical; who never said that was not possible. After all wasn’t that the point to be that offensive. The thing is the cover isn’t causing those who believe that about the Obamas to look at how ridiculous they are for thinking all those things, it is reinforcing that is what will be if he is in office. It’s the difference of laughing at or with someone.

Many of the conversation being had on most blogs are more about the tasteless nature of this and I think it was irresponsible of the New Yorker to publish this as a cover. I may have been ok with it in the picture inset of the article; it would have shown a little more responsibility. This picture juxtapose next to a very good article on Barack, I might add, would have probably made the pure satire of this cartoon “getable” to most people. However it is not the New Yorkers job to educate the masses on what kind of magazine it is. I also take into account that the campaign is offended, very rarely does the campaign speak out directly about the many racist things that come its way.

On the Today show one of the guest said the issue with the cover is it’s a joke America doesn’t get, because a large deal of American believes that cover to be true ( I think the numbers were like 26% believed he was schooled in a Muslim school, 23% believed he was raised Muslim and 12% believe he is Muslim) . I’m not calling for the cover to be removed from stands I AM A FREE SPEECH GIRL. I am just saying that this cover missed its mark, which is odd because I was not at all offended by the Lebron James Vogue cover. AB4AD

The thing is no one is talking about how preposterous this is that people believe all these things about the Obamas they are talking about the fact that this is what many white Americans fear about him being president. No one is having an open forum with whites about this cover and saying do you see how silly your beliefs are.

I answered this in more depth over on Big Mans blog. I don’t know how to call the conversation to race we have tried several times and we haven’t been able to. America needs more than a call to conversation when race is concerned, this is a nation that dismisses empirical evidence of discrimination and says well you should just “get like me”


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I was being factitious calling it a little bit racist, see what I mean. That was my point one mans satire is another insult.


Jay said...

The cover is so over the top that the only people who actually believe these things are the people who already believed it. I don't think anyone is going to see this cover and say "well, that settles it. He really is an America-hating Muslim."

Of course this does mean that somebody is going to do a drawing with Obama wearing low hanging jeans with a Glock in the waistband and wife beater, with tattoos all over his arms and sporting some grillz and then claim "oh it's just satire, just like the New Yorker was." It's all about context and intent. Taken in context with the story that ran in The New Yorker the cover is obviously satire and is pretty funny really.

But, I have no problem with Obama's reaction to it though. He's right to draw the line on this type of thing just to try to stop it from becoming too common. It's just politics.

WNG said...

BIG SIGH OF RELIEF!!! Because seriously girl, I was getting a little upset about the artist. You kept metioning the incident and it sounded like you agreed. I was getting worried.

As for the Muslim comment, that's a case of irony not translating in print and I'm very glad we cleared that up as well.

"The thing is the cover isn’t causing those who believe that about the Obamas to look at how ridiculous they are for thinking all those things, it is reinforcing that is what will be if he is in office."
Um - How do you know that?

"No one is having an open forum with whites about this cover and saying do you see how silly your beliefs are."
I am. It's hanging in my office and I just had a conversation with someone who thought I should offended by the cover because he didn't understand that the New Yorker was making fun of him for believeing that crap. I politely explained. He's pretty red in the face now (literally) and I had a good laugh.
If you'd like to start a conversation on your blog or with your white friends, neighbors or coworkers I think that's great!

Jay - I have no problem with Obama's reaction to it either. I actually don't have a problem with anyone being offended by it and speaking up.

Where I start to have a problem is when people get all boycott ready over a satirical cartoon instead of mobilizing against what it satirizes.
How about we start reprinting it with the title, 'This is What Rush Limbaugh Thinks - This is How Stupid He Is' on it and handing them out? You can replace Rush's name with anyone you see fit. You don't think it's clear enough? Make it more clear. Take action. (I know, I know, broken record.)

OG - I'm really glad that we're having this discussion. I wish that more people would be having discussions (like on Field or Big Man's blogs) instead of just screaming. I get where you're coming from, even if we don't agree 100%.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Yes, but we are sometimes so use to crying foul that we forget to do the necessary research.

I think the conversation is good. As I said yesterday I was looking forward to it, I just didn't have the where with all to talk about it Monday. It's not a simple subject to broach too many layers.

Well I should have said it doesn't seem to be affect those I know that believe that about Obama or hear on talk radio, I'm sure somewhere there are several CONVICTED folks from this cover.

However if you listen to talk radio, plenty folks are not affected one bit.

G, you are right I should write about it and discuss it, but...actually there are NO BUTS I guess I better get to figuring out my six second delayed message!


slag said...

I can't agree that this image was an exaggeration. Sadly, as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are starting to find out, it's getting harder and harder to exaggerate neocon idiocy. As Booman said, the fact that someone like Jonah Goldberg could see how this image has some truth to it is the reason that it failed to do much more than simply represent the neocon mindset.

Agreed with OG that context is very important. Would this image have been offensive if it were on the cover of the National Review, for instance? The New Yorker doesn't have the same lefty cred that a magazine like The Nation has. Therefore, it doesn't get an automatic pass.

From what I understand, the Obama camp's concern is similar to mine. The actual haters are nowhere to be found in this image. Instead, it's only the victims of the hate that are portrayed. It's easy to pick on the victims; not so easy to pick on the victimizers. In that respect, I think it's weak. And in my mind, weak satire is failed satire. If they had put the title of the image on the cover with the image, that would have gotten it one step closer. But when the [f]it started to hit the [sh]an, they really should have been able to mount a better defense than, "It's on the cover of the New Yorker, so it's ok."

Deacon Blue said...

I don't want to get into apples and oranges, but since this is the third af-am blog I'm commenting on now with this issue now, I don't want to be the annoying AND repetitive white guy. ;-)

I've already gone on about the editorial judgment errors in the decision-making process and the huge error of omission (a tagline to go with the potentially infammatory art here). So let me take another tack this time...

I despise President Shrub. I hate to say that, because I try to be a forgiving and accommodating soul, but Dubya is so foul in terms of what he's done to the nation that it'll be a long time before I can find full forgiveness. Still, I wonder how I would feel if the New Yorker ran a photo of Dubya in a dunce cap, snorting coke, with a pile of empty liquor bottles all around, while he watches his cronie waterboard some Muslims and give a thumbs up to some planes in the distance as they bomb civilians and a copy of the Constitution is burning in a nearby fireplace?

I might not be AS offended, because I'm married to a black woman and have two biracial kids, and the Obama stuff hits closer to home for me. But I am pretty sure I would still see it as a cheap shot toward Bush even if the stuff was over the top. Which, frankly, most or all of it would be. He seems, as near as I can tell, to still be on the wagon and I don't think he's actively doing the happy dance over civilian casualties and torture. Still, all the stuff I've mentioned is closer to the truth for George W. Bush than the stuff on the current New Yorker cover is for the Obamas.

If the kernel of truth is more truthful in the Dubya example and THAT disturbs me as a possiblity, than it makes more sense to me why the Obama imagery makes me even more squeamish, all the more so because even though it is over the top, it is not given a context that makes it clear that is the message being transmitted.

We need dialogue in this nation, true...but as a nation we are not always the deepest thinkers, and this kind of satire/parody was very poorly executed and, I maintain, done more to sell magazines than to promote dialogue.

The artist who got shut down was more in the right, being that an art exhibit like that generally IS meant to open dialogues. The cover of a magazine rarely is.

The CEO said...

The problem I have is how I found out about the cover. My wife heard about it on the radio. In other words, neither of us actually saw the cover before we heard about it. All I had was a description that my wife recounted from WTOP all news radio in the DC area.

Their description wasn't like yours. No one mentioned satire. I'll leave it there rather than perpetuate it any farther.

Most people I know don't read The New Yorker. They are going to hear about this cover, or see it on TV for a couple of seconds. What do you think their reaction will be?

I consider this post the antidote to the cover. Thank you for that!

catnmus said...

In the SF Chronicle article, someone had said that if that cartoon had been depicted as if it were a "National Review" cover, or a Fox News broadcast, it would have been spot-on as far as what it was lampooning. He said that not everyone knows that the New Yorker is a liberal magazine, and they would then not understand the satire.

I agreed with this at first. But then I thought some more about it. Why would people not be expected to know that the New Yorker is a liberal magazine, but they're still expected to know that the National Review and Fox News are both conservative? (Not to mention the fact that the audience for those conservative outlets think that they are actually "fair and balanced". But that's another whole story.)

Plus, the New Yorker is known for more high-brow, intellectual fare, and by not including that frame of reference, it requires more thought to "get it". And when you DO get it, you can say to yourself, "That is EXACTLY what is going on."

WNG said...

Ok guys - WOW!
First, like I said to OG, thanks for commenting guys.

I guess I'm coming to this more from my artist than activist side -or maybe from both.

Slag, the fact that some people think this image has truth in it doesn't seem to me like a good reason not to print it. And I really don't see how it's picking on the victims here. I guess I just don't get it.

The thing is that the cartoon is not directed at the Obamas the way your fictional cartoon would be directed at Pres Shrub. Your cartoon would be an exaggeration and mockery of his life. This one is an exaggeration and mockery of lies.
More people are going to see this magazine than any art show, and no, you can't control what they think or how it affects them after they see it. All you can do is create art with a specific intention.
As a nation we are not always the deepest thinkers. We haven't had to be in a long, long while because anything that threatened us or made us uncomfortable or prompted debate was labeled and swept away. This cannot be. Again, the fact that people may not get what you're trying to do doesn't seem like a reason to not do it to me.

Monty - this is where some people on the left may have shot themselves in the foot a little. There was such an immediate and huge uproar over the cover that people were prejudiced before they even saw it. It also swelled the numbers of people who will view the magazine online or buy it. Not a good way to squash something. I'm really not sure what else they could have done.

Not a lot of people that I know read the New Yorker either. I tend to be an online browser myself. It bothers me that the fact that there are racist assholes who won't understand that they are being made fun of is being used as a reason not to make fun of them.

That is the only thing about this that bothers me, that we seem to be letting the lowest common denominator run the discussion - or influence whether or not there will even be one.

As for the New Yorker's liberal street cred, I'll have to think about that. My gut reaction is that some liberals wouldn't be quite so upset, but if the point is that it fuels the neocon fire then why would it matter where it is published?

Deacon, I personally think that George W Bush should be tried and convicted of Treason and Murder and locked up. Despise is a mild word for my feelings.

I personally hope that I haven't offended anyone here and apologize if I have (except for the GW remark, that is pure truth from my soul and I will not apologize for it).

WNG said...

catnmus- how DARE you post while I'm posting and make me have to write AGAIN!!!

just kidding - yeah, I'm getting a wee bit tired of people saying that if they had changed this thing or that thing that more people or certain people would have understood it. It might be true. It might not be. The fact is that I don't believe that their intentions were bad and I don't believe that the artist's execution was poor.
I don't think you need to explicitly say that 'we are now making fun of Fox News' in order to make it work. Plus I personally see it as less about Fox News than the guy in the cubicle next to you reading the email about how Obama took his Senate oath on the Koran. The guy who passes that shit on.

by the way, i have no problem making fun of either one of them

Deacon Blue said...

Hey, I understand where you're coming from, WNG, and you're right that we can theorize all day long how one little change here or there might have made it more clear it's parody. But the sum of the parts here is creating a dynamic that makes me feel mighty queasy. I think of all the igorant mofos who can now influence the undecided folks who don't try to learn anything by saying, "Look, see, that liberal New York rag even thinks something fishy is going on with the Obamas." Because they know most people aren't going to read the article.

It's hard to put my finger on what is most bothersome about this cover, but damn, I support thinking, I love satire and parody, and I'm not even black, and this cover is disturbing me greatly. Something seems amiss here, and I'm not feeling good about where this might lead, or what kind of floodgates it might begin to open that we really don't need opened.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

I know you're all busy being a brainiac, but not even ONE comment about me calling you my sister in vodka? I thought that was a good one! *lol*


WNG said...

I get you Deacon, although I don't agree, I understand the vague sense of 'not right' and the inablility to nail down where it's coming from. I'm sorry that it disturbs you so deeply.

OG- WAIT - huh? WHERE??? I missed that, but that's a GREAT line!!!

Keith's Space said...

Hi wNG...I guess everybody is blogging about this today...I did a
post about this also in which I state that while I "got it" that this is satire...what angers me is that there are so many stupid people out here who really beleive that what the cover depicts is the truth and that they will never see that they are being mocked.

I express anger that the media
purposely manipulates people into thinking all kinds of foolishness and that people aren't bright enough to look deeper into something.. We put too much trust in the conventional media.

I feel you on this..Love your take on it!

WNG said...

Keith - Welcome! Ok, first, if you're gonna rock a frat jacket on my blog it really should be an Alpha jacket, but I'm gonna let that go 'cuz you seem like a nice guy :-)

I think that we should be offended by the people who use Muslim as a slur, who write these racist and insulting emails, who question his patriotism and his wife's feminity, child rearing skills and love of country. Getting pissed at the magazine cover that makes fun of all of those things doesn't make sense to me.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

At my spot I responded to you, "WNG- Pissed? At you? NO WAY!! You are my sister in vodka! NEVER!! Can't wait. "

I love quoting myself!


WNG said...

From my warning yesterday?! I didn't read it - I'm SORRY! I read the post today, but I have too many things to say about it. I need to boil it down before I can comment. All I can say right now is, great post.

and Sisters in Vodka is going on a t shirt ;-)

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

We should go ahead and open up a shop on Cafe Press. Or send these lines into a Vodka company, couldn't you see it all those promotional models wearing our shirts in those young folks clubs and bars!! *lol*


The CEO said...

So where are these t shirts already? And where's my Big Man t shirt?

WNG said...

OG - I set up a shop, but I must confess that I am completely out of my depth there and have no time to really get it up and running. If you want to partner up drop me an email...

CEO - I thought YOU were buying ME one of Big Man's shirts!

The CEO said...

I was buying YOU spicy tuna, YOU do the t shirts.

WNG said...

I really think I deserve both...

catnmus said...

WNG, I hadn't thought of that... you're right... Showing it as just a National Review cover or a Fox News broadcast would have made it look like it was targeting that one news outlet, rather than the whole atmosphere. And probably open themselves to a libel lawsuit.

WNG said...

catnmus - let me state again that I have NO PROBLEM making fun of either of those...and if you want to do so i'll join in with glee :-)

also, the sweetest words (after 'free shoes') in the world are YOU'RE RIGHT ;)

Gye Greene said...

Wow, G -- you sure spark a lot of discussion! :)

This reminds me of over at Slag's blog -- the Bernie Mac joke that fell flat. Good concept -- but as you pointed out, it would've been stronger if it had a tagline, "What the American Right Fears" (or some-such).

Again, as with the Bernie Mac joke: o.k. concept; execution needed some work.


WNG said...

Hi Gye! I think it was more the subject than it was me, but thanks...

The New Yorker doesn't put tag lines on it's covers though. The titles go on the inside.