New Yorker cover, July 21
US highbrow weekly The New Yorker has got its knickers twisted with its lastest cover showing presidential hopeful Barack Obama as a Muslim with his terrorist wife (complete with US flag burning in the fire of the Oval Room in the White House).
As cartoonist Chris Adams points out in the Telegraph, it’s an image that might work for the magazine’s regulars, but not anywhere else.
‘Any regular reader would immediately ‘get’ that cover as it was intended. A not too subtle lampoon of the exaggerated right wing smears Obama has been subjected to…
‘So the message should be clear.
‘But I’m afraid it isn’t, because taken out of context, it can mean whatever you want it to. And here we come to the internet … As a stand-alone image on the web, it really could be some right-wing website or magazine’s propaganda.’
The Columbia Journalism Review has posted reactions from cartoonists, such as:
‘I think the illustration misfired. The way it turned out it looked like [the cartoonist] was poking fun at the Obamas, and I don’t think that was the artist’s intention: I think he was trying to poke fun at the outrageous lies about the Obamas.’
‘It’s often hard to guess what kinds of misinterpretations people will have on our work. And there’s an element of willful misinterpretation that’s going on here. It’s part of the problem: people are deliberately misinterpreting it because they want to get riled up. It’s something that all editorial cartoons go through.’
‘I don’t think we have to be clear. It’s not up to us to hold people’s hands. There’s a tendency in political cartooning to really hammer down on people’s heads. I want people to be confused and pissed off.’
This cartoonist’s ink will run and run.