Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Satire or Slander? The (in)famous Obama Cartoon

During my trip I saw the controversial (and to me, racist and deeply offensive) New Yorker cover reprinted in a local newspaper. Recently, I'd read an article that researchers have shown that erroneous information is likely to pervade one's mind through repetition even when one has information proving that it is inaccurate. Therefore, they argued, Obama's web site created to dispel mis-information might do more harm than good, in that it would repeat the lies told by the G.O.P. Then I read an op-ed piece defining satire as comprised of some sort of inversion, citing "A Modest Proposal" as the quintessential example. Thus, a literal re-presentation or reproduction of something one opposes does nothing but reinforce and reproduce the alleged object of one's disapproval. (of course I am aware of the paradox here, since I am reprinting something of which I strongly disapprove!!!!!!)

Thus in the cartoon above, published in the New York Times Week In Review section last Sunday, we see an example of what satire actually is - what is funny is to reveal the absurdity of the attacks against Obama, by replacing him and his wife with Bush and Cheney, as a dysfunctional fundamentalist pair, cozily planning subversion in the White House hearth.