What’s the big friggin’ deal? Nothing like hearing liberals complain that this image is offensive as if they don’t get the joke. Even worse: Watching CNN conduct an informal poll at a newsstand where they show unsuspecting citizens the “offensive” cover illo and ask, “Is this positive or negative?” Wow. Then there are the commentators, the pundit class who should know better, act like they’ve never read the New Yorker lamenting that there should have been an article to go with the front cover. Why, oh why, they ask wasn’t there a headline or some sort of explain-y thing to go with the cover art? Gee.
And almost even worse: David Gergen. This former adviser of presidents turned wonk, academic, and CNN talking head, usually represents some clear-headed CW and carefully calibrated insight. He’s great at being a blowhard without actually sounding like a blowhard. Over the years, I’ve come to rely on his commentary. But last night, Gergen joined the chorus to declare that the New Yorker really whiffed and called the joke unfunny, etc. At least he judged the illo as a joke.
It’s art, people. Deal with it. The New Yorker had every right to publish it. And despite all the huffing and puffing, the cover did its job. It provoked a conversation about all those bad Obama rumors. If only the conversation actually got deeper than hating on a drawing and dealt with the real reason those rumors persist: racism.
In this year of faux umbrage, the flap over this New Yorker cover is perhaps the worst example.