It’s a Joke?

If there is irony in the cover to this week’s The New Yorker, it’s not in the drawing itself. The incongruity lies in seeing the cartoon on the cover of that particular magazine.

If there is satire in the cover this week’s The New Yorker, it is towards the magazine itself. Certainly, it makes no supporter or detractor of the Obamas look ridiculous.

If there is parody in the cover this week’s The New Yorker, it is (again) towards the magazine itself. Nothing in the cartoon has anything to do with the Obamas, so it certainly doesn’t parody them.

If there is a joke in the cover this week’s The New Yorker, it is on the people who actually found it funny, for the cartoon speaks only to prejudice.

On this last, there’s someone who writes for The Los Angeles Times named James Rainey who seems to think the joke is on Obama haters:

It seemed fairly obvious to me, my 8-year-old and, likely, the majority of readers of one of America’s finest magazines that the cover drawing by Barry Blitt was a parody. In other words (for those still struggling with the concept), the joke was not on the Obamas but on the knuckle-walkers who would do them harm by trying to turn a couple of fresh-scrubbed Harvard Law grads into something foreign and scary.

According to elitist Rainey, it seems, no one in America but he, his kid, and readers of The New Yorker have the sophistication to “get” the joke. Anyone else is either dumber than an 8-year-old or a “knuckle-walker.” Or has absolutely no sense of humor.

What would have been needed, to make Rainey’s defense appropriate, would be some sort of contextualization. Karl Rove dreaming the scene, for example. Or showing a group of plotters creating that image.

A funnier vision of Barack and Michele Obama might have been the two of them in the oval office watching Leave It to Beaver re-runs while surrounded by the most boring American accouterments possible… a response to John McLaughlin’s oreo comment.

Well, there’s one thing about irony, satire, parody, and jokes in general: they need to be funny to work. However, defending something by saying it is “supposed” to be funny doesn’t work. “A Modest Proposal” this is not though, perhaps, showing the Obamas sitting down to a meal of Irish babies might have been closer.