Editorial: Satirical Depictions Integral To Politics

This story was written by , Central Florida Future


If interpretation dictated publication, we would all be subjected to sugarcoated information with the appeal of watching paint dry.

For that reason, satire is meant to make stories and the words that compose the stories enticing to the most apathetic of readers.

However, on certain isolated occasions, satire can be misinterpreted and therefore misconstrued, as was the case with the latest depiction on the cover of the New Yorker on July 21.

The cover satirized Barack Obama, adorned in Muslim attire and his wife, Michelle, carrying an AK-47. Both stood in the Oval Office amid a burning American flag and a picture of Osama bin Laden, where they exchanged a terrorist fist pump.

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, was quoted by CNN stating, "The idea is to attack lies and misconceptions and distortions about the Obamas and their background and their politics. We've heard all of this nonsense about how they're supposedly insufficiently patriotic or soft on terrorism."

However, in an alternative publication, Daily Mississippian, Remnick was quoted as saying, " the intention of the illustration was to 'hold up a mirror' to the ridiculousness of the various accusations made by some right-wing commentators about the couple (Barack being a secret Muslim and his wife an unpatriotic revolutionary) "

Perhaps that is why the illustration is confronted with such disapproval and contempt - Americans don't like it when the reflection they see is one of skepticism and stereotype.

Americans can only speculate and make false accusations about Barack Obama and his wife because once something tangible and controversial is exposed to the public, they begin to rescind and declare the exposure offensive. For example, L.A. City Councilman and superdelegate from California Bernard Parks Sr. said, "I think it's outrageous that we'd have a cover that would depict racism, sexism, anti-religion, also anti-patriotism and sympathy toward terrorism," as reported by CNN.

In response, Remnick defends the American people, claiming that the American people are being underestimated, although he acknowledges there may be some initial misinterpretation.

"And so in fact, we're not even satirizing the Obamas, we're satirizing these rumors, the lies that have fed into the politics of fear," he said.

This is exactly why there is such widespread opposition, because Americans do not like to be the focal point of ridicule. Why is it that verbal satire is accepted in the form of televisions shows such as The Colbert Report or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, but when it is published independent of an explanation, the public is incapable of establishing the same sense of humor?

The title of the image, "The Politics of Fear" demonstrates the message of the illustrator, Barry Blitt: people are fearful of change and revolution and therefore sensationalize opinions, which evolve into beliefs and ultimately penetrate the political atmosphere. The adverse effects of this intrusion can be recognized by the negative reception of satirical photos that extend beyond gossip.

According to a Newsweek poll, "12 percent of those polled believed Obama was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on a Qur'an, and 26 percent believed that he was raised as a Muslim."

This just further encapsulates the ignorance of the general public and the malleability of their belief system. If the media can so easily persuade them with false information, why is it so difficult for a reputable publication, such as the New Yorker, to dissuade them from gravitating toward the stereotypes that plague the Obama family?

When the American threshold level of knowledge is raised, sotoo will the acceptance of political satire in the form of illustration. Until then, publications are forced to cater to the sensitivity of the American people for fear of deviating from conventionality.

The portrayal is a statement to society regarding the asinine nature of the rumors that circulate around the Obama campaign, which is ironically what influences the humor and allure of the politicized caricature.
  • CBSNews

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