The thin line satire walks

Jen reminded us of that New Yorker cartoon, so I thought I’d take a look back. Mother Jones, July 13 2008.

Weren’t we just having a discussion here on the Riff about the thin line satire walks, between being the opposite of a thing and an endorsement of a thing? Well, brace yourselves, because the New Yorker has jumped right into the middle of that argument with a cover that made my jaw actually drop.

The July 21st issue features a be-turbaned Barack and an afroed, gun-toting Michelle Obama, celebrating their arrival in the White House with a good old terrorist fist-bump. They’ve also apparently done a little redecorating, tacking up a portrait of Osama bin Laden and tossing an American flag into the fireplace for good measure. The illustration, called “The Politics of Fear,” is described in a New Yorker press release as satirizing the “scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election”; as the Huffington Post put it: “all that’s missing is a token sprig of arugula.”


I think at the time it seemed like handing the Republicans a gift.

Satire is hard.



  1. Pliny the in Between says

    It is hard. It’s made far harder by the fact that it always requires a functioning and generally well informed human brain on the receiving end.

  2. John Morales says

    Pliny, well-informed in relation to the applicable milieu, but not necessarily in general.

    (Allegories require shared referents)

  3. says

    I think at the time it seemed like handing the Republicans a gift.

    I recall the conservatives getting quite a chuckle out of that cover, which really confused me, because it’s clearly satire that is lampooning all the people who were bemoaning the “terrorist fist bump” and the “terrorist in the white house” and claiming that Obama was in cahoots with Bin Laden and disrespecting the USA. All of those elements are there.

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