Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In a Small Room a Stupid Decision Was Made

Setting: Corporate boardroom. White walls with inspirational posters and old New Yorker covers. Plush leather seats surround and oval table with a large black phone in the middle. Several white men, a couple white women and one black woman surround the table. A large white poster board sits on an easel with a cover of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Senator Obama is dressed in traditional Muslim dress, his wife is dressed like revolutionary complete with assault rifle.

Illustrator 1: This is what I came up with. I think it really explains exactly how kooky and crazy the right wing folks are and really lets them have it with both guns. Notice how Obama bin----I mean Osama bin Laden is over the fireplace mantle? I think that really brings home the comparisons between Barack and terrorists.

And I don't mean to brag, but I think Michelle's outfit just screams militant, angry black bitch. Not bitch in the bad way, bitch in the feminist way. The good way. I think this cover says something that will really resonate with people. It'll get them talking.

Male Editor 1: You don't think it's a little too edgy? I'm all for making a statement, and those conservatives can be idiots, but you have Michelle carrying an assault rifle. Is that going too far?

Illustrator:It's art. If art doesn't go too far, what good is it? Look, we need to wake people up to the craziness of these rumors. What better way than putting them all out there front and center without any words or comments to explain them? People will see how ridiculous they all are, and then they'll read our stories.

Male Editor 2: You know what? I think it's brilliant. Just fucking brilliant. That's it, just brilliant.

White Female reporter 1: I don't know about this. I think this is making fun of assertive feminists everywhere. Why are her arms and legs completely covered? I think she could be wearing something more attractive so that we don't play up the whole "butch" stereotype for aggressive females. Women have fought too long to get past that. But, other than that, I think the cover says exactly what we need it to say about conservative attacks.

Illustrator 1: I could see your concern about the clothing, but I think that if we have Obama as a Muslim it would make sense for his woman to be fairly covered up. After all, she's not his "baby mama..." I really should have found a way to include that in this pic. Anyway, I thought about covering Michelle's head with a scarf, but I figured that an Afro got more to the core of her militant black nature. An Afro says "militant" like nothing else.

Black Female reporter: This feels funny to me. I can't articulate why, but it just feels funny. These are educated black people in corporate America. Would Michelle really not have a perm? I just don't see that happening.

Male Editor 2: I think you're spending too much time on the hair, who even notices people's hair. I didn't even realize your hair had a relaxer until you said something. I just assumed it came like that. The hair is a distraction.

Black Female reporter: Well, I just said I felt funny. I didn't say we had to change anything. I think it's very fair.

Illustrator 1: So we're agreed? This is the cover we all like? I think this cover is going to do some real good. I can almost smell the Pulitzer.

Male Editor 1: Are we sure nobody could get offended by this whole thing?

Illustrator 1: Anybody who has a problem with this cover doesn't understand humor and art. Period. Look, this cover is outstanding. People will love it


blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi there!

Thanks for blowing the trumpet about this!

I have been seeing this image all over the blogosphere very recently and it is OUTRAGEOUSLY racist and offensive...

For those who think this image is NO big deal...let me ask you a question... if this publication wants to do a feature on sexism...it's okay to show Michelle Obama squatting on all fours with a dog chain around her neck? Satire? Really?

The problem is that black people have been used for SATIRE in white publications for how long now?? We have NEVER laughed at white people's depictions of us because the HUMOR was intended to debase and degrade.

There's satire and there's insult ...and the DIFFERENCE lies in the lack of respect that these white publications have shown the Obamas and have shown blacks in general.

What more does it take before we start FLOODING these publications with complaints?

Phone number:

(This is the number for the Subscriptions Department but people can ask to be connected to David Miller.)

Send a letter! Then, fax it!

David Miller
Associate Publisher
The New Yorker
4 Times Square
New York, NY 10036

And send a note!


Shouts & Murmurs:

Fax: 212-286-5024

Black people have learned a lesson by now...DOING NOTHING changes nothing.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Yes the problem with satire and racism is that many folks believe the satirical things about black to be truth. I get that it was satire, however can we say OVER THE TOP.

It's the same reason Dave Chappelle dropped his mike and walked away from his comedy. (why do I always seem to be making Chapelle reference on your posts? *lol*)

If they shut down the white artist who did the art instillation about the Obama's which was suppose to expose the many racist views of this country the New Yorker had to have known better or thought.

This is not a cover, it would have been better as an inset to the article that talked about the racism he faced.

Can't say I'm surprised.


Truthiz said...

“Yes the problem with satire and racism is that many folks believe the satirical things about black to be truth. I get that it was satire, however, can we say OVER THE TOP.”

@OG- I absolutely agree. And would add, “can we say OVER THE TOP" AND STUPID.

Big Man your depiction of how it all played out, behind the scenes at the New Yorker, is probably spot on!

The decision was made to “go” with such a “brilliant” piece of satirical art, with the assumption that “of course” most people _in particular, “smart and sophisticated” folks_will “GET” the meaning of it, and applaud the magazine cover because it "OBVIOUSLY" shows the "absurdities" of the Reich-wing smears against Obama...?!

It’s funny because your depiction reminds me of how, in the past, I'd envisioned the neoCONS sitting around a table discussing their “brilliant” plan to invade Iraq, the assumption being that_of course the World_ in particular, the Iraqis_ would SEE and Appreciate such a “noble” act, and with applause, We’d “obviously be “welcomed as liberators”.

Now, I’m in NO way suggesting that the New Yorker “cover” story compares in ANY way to the story being played out in Iraq.

I’m simply noting that in both cases, it was “Liberal elites” who fancy themselves_and are recognized by other “elites”_ as “intellectuals” sitting around getting HIGH on their own “brilliance” and making a “brilliant” decision that the majority of people DIDN’T “GET”, and found the act to be highly "Offensive", prompting considerable BLOWBACK!

The phrase “educated FOOLS” come to mind.

WNG said...

I've posted on this on my blog. You can come yell at me there.

Big Man - the hair? THAT's the thing you would have your Black Woman upset about?

BWBTT - " There's satire and there's insult ...and the DIFFERENCE lies in the lack of respect that these white publications have shown the Obamas and have shown blacks in general." I agree that many of them have (and I have written and spoken up and canceled a subscription when I felt that was the case) but why should the New Yorker pay for crap that Time or any other mag has pulled? Your argument makes a lot more headway when you focus on this specific cover or put it in context of other New Yorker covers, unless you're calling for a larger print boycott.

OG -"If they shut down the white artist who did the art instillation about the Obama's which was suppose to expose the many racist views of this country the New Yorker had to have known better or thought"...
how do we start a national conversation about this? how do we have an honest conversation when we keep boycotting and shutting down everyone who opens their mouths? (btw i'm really asking)

Deacon Blue said...

Well, I'm not gonna yell at ya, WNG, even though I disagree. But I've already laid out the reasons why I as a journalist (as Big Man is) couldn't sanction the decision to run that cover art without some sort of tagline over at Field Negro...maybe I'll pop by your place later to spread my opinions widely, but I ain't gonna take you to task because I understand with your point. I'm all for opening disucssions and controversy can serve us well, but that cover just isn't clear enough on the fact it's a satire, and there are ignorant folks who are going to be charged up by it (on both sides of the fence, but esp. the right wing end, who can use this image as a rallying point instead of its stated goal of a parody.

The image exhibits all the feared stereotypes and doesn't really provide a context. Too many people expect the Obamas are really like what the picture shows for this to be tasteful. The ignorant folks aren't going to read the article but they are going to jump all over the cover and probably spread it like wildfire.

The New Yorker's editors and publishers dropped the ball. This cover needed a tagline.

the uppity negro said...

Well, Big Man, you were the last of those on my blogroll to comment on this one---I'm all commented out on this topic, lol.

But I will say this, although I believe this cartoon pushed the envelope ALL the way to the edge, I was most insulted at the fact that Michelle's afro was clearly viewed as something that is a negative, just as negative as flag burning, Osama (or Obama) bin Laden, the Muslim faith or her carrying her guns.

I just think it's interesting that the cartoonist took all of these "loaded" icons in the American psyche and lampooned them. Usually politcal cartoonists take innocuous icons to lampoon, but that which has negative connotations from the beginning arent---but clearly, we're dealing with a horse of a differnt color.


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

G, I replied to your post to, but that is my question. I think the art installation was a much better venue, because it was something that could be explained and discussed and actually the New Yorker cover has done the same thing. My thought was the New Yorker couldn’t have been surprised.

The problem is two fold, white America is uncomfortable facing the fact that they are racially insensitive at best and black America is uncomfortable with the fact that we do a have some holes in our drawers metaphorically speaking, even though we weren’t the ones who put the moths in our lingerie drawers. That is the real thing that is the biggest issue of human kind, not wanting to look at the UGLY of ourselves for sake of improvement.

Our response to criticism is to shrug it off and call the ones levying insensitive or claim he/she is talking down to us, or thinks his/herself better.

The conversation on race is such a hard one because whites don’t want to accept the deep roots of slavery’s affect on a people and blacks don’t want to accept that there is personal responsibility and things we can do that are in our control. Instead we get these extremes that just continue on and on. And people lose the real point of equality. I will never forget that there was a black blogger who thought the Jena incident served the black kids right because they were foolish kids and after the settlement had done foolish things. She totally missed the point, that the same offense was punished differently based on race (and really it was hardly the same offense). Any way I said that to say that as Americans period we are falling for the banana in the tailpipe.

They have us distracted from the basic flaw, we are not all being viewed as equals and we do not all have the same access to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sure many beat the odd both ways, there are blacks who manage to succeed and be black (whatever that means) and whites that get their privilege and understand injustice. But on a larger scale WE DON’T GET IT. We get distracted by so many other things that we fail to discuss the issue the fundamental lack of respect for one another. Just my two cents.


Big Man said...

The problem is two fold, white America is uncomfortable facing the fact that they are racially insensitive at best and black America is uncomfortable with the fact that we do a have some holes in our drawers metaphorically speaking, even though we weren’t the ones who put the moths in our lingerie drawers.

I loved this comment.

Imhotep said...

This is my post in a few other blogs. 24 hours my feelings are the same.

The cover is fucked-up. I don’t care if it’s a liberal magazine, what have white liberals (the majority) done for us? Exploiting us for their financial gains (magazine sales) disguised under the liberal banner is just as hideous as any plantation owner.

And this notion of satire is bogus. Satire usually involve some irony, where is the the gun totin, bible quoting, moomshine drinking cracker on the cover, saying I told you so.

The next edition of the magazine should have McIdiot on the cover, taking mid-day naps, with his dentures in a glass of water next to his bed side, and his wife holding a bottle with extra strength viagra. Of course I could go into the shit his wife have done with her non-profit, but that’s for some other time.

I guess Michelle spoke too soon. These mofo’s make it impossible to be proud of this country.

WNG said...

OG, I'm agreeing with you that it's hard. And on the reasons why it's hard. (And Big Man, I love her quote too!) The cover still doesn't bother me, and neither does the conversation.

Deacon, it's not clear that it's satire? You think that the New Yorker thinks that is what's going to happen when Obama is elected?
No - but there are stupid people who will. Well, of course there are, but since when do the ignorant get to be in charge of what I get to see or read? I mean, since I got out of school. Yes, the idiots are going to have a field day, so are the overly sensitive. But there are also people out there who don't realize how bad, how dirty this campaign has been and maybe they'll find out now. Or maybe not - either way, I'm still ok with the cartoon.
I'm NOT ok that I've missed alomst all of twofer tuesday! ARGH! I'll be right over!!!

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

didnt bother me
i feel based opn gop attack machine thats what he should look like
i laughed

im more concerned about the rapid grwth in china, the stabalized juan and how it may make the global economy even worse, but that is just me

Big Man said...

I think the joke wasn't as clearly funny as some other covers.

Like they say, if you have to explain a joke to much it probably isn't all that funny.

I think it's interesting that so many folks in the mainstream media think the cover was "hilarious" and so many regular readers think it was in poor taste at best and blatantly racist at worst.

This reaction makes me glad I wrote what I wrote because obviously this discussion would REALLY happen in the media. This is how it workd. Like-minded people gather to make decisions and are totally unaware or uncaring about potential backlash.

Also, I'm tired of the New Yorker folks whining. They purposely put out and edgy cover with the interest of getting folks to read their mag. However, now that the response has been negative they want to cry like babies. That's BS. They need to stand up and take their licks.

Keith's Space said...

Hahahahahaha...Love the way you
put your ideas across...I'm with you on this. I wrote a post on this
issue on my blog today...I suppose everybody in the Black Blogosphere is writing about it.

Deacon Blue said...

WNG...by no means do I think that the New Yorker folks think this is the way the Obamas are.

What I see are the people who are looking to fuel misinformation can use this cover to SAY that's what the New Yorker is indicating. We have a lot of easily led masses out there in the voting bloc, and I can really see the COVER (not the article) getting wide distribution with the manipulative folks saying, "see, even the liberal rag know there's something fishy with them negroes"

Maybe I'm paranoid, but with the lack of a tagline to give context on this very complex and multilayered satirical cartoon, the cover is potential trouble.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I was focusing so much on the magazine cover, that I over looked the Marcus Garvey picture. IMO the greatest Black man of the 20th century. Hotep!

Rob said...

Over on the Tidesports Forum (Bama fans-- you can guess who I deal with), my response was that in reality, if more than 10% of Americans understood satire, this might be effective. The reality is that most of them wouldn't know The New Yorker from new shoes, and will fall hook, line, and sinker for right-wing nutjobs like O'Reilly, who'll proclaim that this "art" shows the real Obamas.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Take out our fear of racist backlash and the cartoon is funny. The fist bump is priceless.

I think it's our collective fear that whites will believe this cartoon as truth is why we're so dang upset.

F' that. The ones who are that ig'nant won't vote him anyway.

When my son, age 19 saw it, after he recovered from shock, he went into his comedy act and good 'ole boy voice. "See thar, look thar! I told you they were terrorists! I ain't voting for no nigger terrorists in the Wyatt House. Thar's the proof!"

I died laughing. I wouldn't worry about it. O-Man sure ain't.

I liked your post, though. That sounds like the discussion New Yorker Mag had. That was funny.

jelana said...

"Satire usually involves some irony, where is the the gun totin, bible quoting, moonshine drinking cracker on the cover, saying I told you so"

I agree with Imhotep on this one.
Without context, it simply perpetuates the rumors. It is attacking the victims rather than satirizing the perpetrators.

Truthfully, no matter how many times I view it, it does not make me laugh.

Smokie said...

Aren't the Obamas in the WHITE HOUSE in that illustration?

The cover needed a tag line. Actually, the cover didn't need to be drawn or published, and no matter what explanation is given, there was some yt on the payroll who DEEP DOWN wanted THIS image out there. Can you imagine any black blog or magazine conjuring up some shit like this? No, because our intent is not to hurt Obama. Clearly, this cover (and Jesse's statements -- off topic) were created with the intent to hurt on some level.

At the very least, this is piss poor journalism; at the most, it is yet another slap in the face of a man who has been politically backhanded since the beginning of his campaign.

Big Man said...


that's good point. The fact that the scene is inside the White House lends credence to the idea that once Obama wins, that's when the real Barack will come out. It goes beyond the idea of crazy attacks, it really plays to deep seated fears.

Good catch.

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