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Barry’s Blitz

Oh dear. What’s up with the controversial New Yorker cover depicting radical Barack and Michelle Obama fist bumping in the Oval Office? Artist Barry Blitt immediately went on the defense, but unlike his previous covers this one misses the mark. Good satire needs an element of truth to work. This one’s not based in truth but in the radical right wing’s ignorant perception of the Obamas. Only someone insufferably caught up in his own smugness (a typical New Yorker reader, in other words) would find it clever or funny.

Whenever the New Yorker gets all über topical, it make me miss the old days when they’d slap a harmless painting of the side of a barn on the cover. As an antidote to this madness, I present Rea Irvin’s lovely cover art from exactly fifty years ago:

New Yorker: June 14, 1958

2 Thoughts on “Barry’s Blitz

  1. Yeah, I was just talking about this. Part of the problem is that we aren’t used to looking at cartoons of black people at this time. Cartoonists exaggerate for effect, but exaggerating the features of black people conjures up racial stereotypes that we’re all sensitive too. But mostly, it’s just a sloppy cartoon. I usually like Britt’s work, but this is entirely awkward and unclear. What’s happening here? I suppose it’s supposed to be a victorious handshake, like ha ha, we’ve fooled the Americans into electing us. But he has no expression and his back to us, and Michelle doesn’t look like herself and has a problematic afro. I disagree that the politics were the problem- they could have pulled it off. But this is sloppy, and that’s irresponsible in this climate.

  2. Yeah, it does look slapdash like the artwork was done under an extreme deadline. At first glance, I even thought it was the work of another New Yorker artist, Ed Sorel.

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