I normally don’t do electoral politics on this here blog, but I think this “Sistah Afrocentric Love Fist Bumpin’ Sayyid Hussein” image has good literary application:
Maybe it’s because this kind of satire just doesn’t work, no matter how well it’s done. But mostly it’s because a few minutes thought convinced me it was gutless. If artist Barry Blitt had some real cojones, he would have drawn the same cover but shown it as a gigantic word bubble coming out of John McCain’s mouth — implying, you see, that this is how McCain wants the world to view Obama. But he didn’t. Because that would have been unfair. And McCain would have complained about it. And for some reason, the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame McCain is somehow seen as worse than the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame Obama.
So: gutless. And whatever else you can say about it, good satire is never gutless.
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It’s so sorry when an artist just doesn’t go there or far enough, when an artist takes the most clichéd and overdone trope and doesn’t add anything new or at least interesting to it. I think when an artist does this, s/he isn’t saying anything to me about what s/he really believes, except that s/he succumbs to too much TV/popular opinion and doesn’t really have much of an opinion worth creating the satire. It’s reactionary “art” if it’s even art. And it’s dumb.
[This also reminds me of people who speak all kinds of verbiage and cliché when they are not really saying anything except stuff they've heard in other places.]
What I really mean to say is that I’m with Drum on this; offend everyone if you mean to be offensive. As well, a lack of originality erodes the cleverness of the “art.”
Come to think of it, the title I’ve given the image is more punchy than the image itself: Sistah Afrocentric Love Fist Bumpin’ Sayyid Hussein.
As salaam alaikum, my beautiful brown Asiatic peoples.
Addendum: Seriously though. Let me not be completely dismissive. You know, while obviously threatening to an American majority, the image of the “black militant” is not an ugly image:
This iconic Huey Newton portrait is iconic precisely because it is his and the Panthers’ self-image making of African nobility in a 20th century West Oakland, urban American context. I think the failed satire of the New Yorker cover, its lameness and anemia is due to having missed the point of this Huey image.
Here is Huey Newton again, with Bobby Seale. These images of African Americans protecting themselves with firearms, a constitutional right so it shouldn’t be so bombastic an image, are threatening to an American majority precisely because this is a community who did not passively wait around for the existing institutions to tend to their needs.