Chuckling over the New Yorker

More

I would be happier with the idea that the New Yorker’s cover was satirical, as editor David Remnick claimed, if it was funny. Isn’t satire supposed to be funny? (Jeffrey Goldberg alerts me to the fact that an editorial writer at the New York Sun chuckled over it for several minutes. I didn’t chuckle even for a moment. It wasn't that I was offended. I was just puzzled. What am I supposed to make of this, I wondered?)

Imagine the cartoon were not on the cover of the New Yorker. Most people, I think, would then read it not as reducing a certain idiotic view of Barack Obama and his wife to a comical absurdity, but as expressing that idiotic view with caricatural emphasis. Would it have been satirical (in the sense David Remnick means) on the cover of National Review? At best, without a caption or headline to send the image up, its meaning is unclear: it is a joke without a punchline, and just doesn’t work (except, of course, as a way to get people talking about the magazine).

Obama rightly made light of it. He called it (I'm paraphrasing) an attempt at satire that failed. That is exactly what it was.

Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

How have stories changed in the age of social media? The minds behind House of Cards, This American Life, and The Moth discuss.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In