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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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What's Wrong With This Picture?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 2:23 PM

The latest issue of The New Yorker depicts Barak Obama as a turban-wearing Muslim, Michelle Obama as a gun-toting, crazed Negro woman, and Osama bin Laden ensconced in a portrait in the Oval Office, all while the American flag roasts on a fire. According to the New Yorker, the cover, entitled, "The Politics of Fear," is meant as a satirical response to Sen. Obama's right-wing critics.

But did they go too far?

Now, I understand satire, it is meant to be so over the top that people will immediately see the truth. The problem, however, is that there are still large segments of the population that truly believe that Sen. Obama is an unpatriotic Muslim looking to infiltrate the white house. Crazy, right? But some people fall victim to this type of propaganda and fail to research the issues on their own. A recent Newsweek Poll found that...

...white voters continue to be a challenge for Obama, with McCain leading the Democrat in that category 48 to 36 percent. Some of Obama's lag in white support may be explained by continual confusion over his religious identity. Twelve percent of voters surveyed said that Obama was sworn in as a United States senator on a Qur'an, while 26 percent believe the Democratic candidate was raised as a Muslim and 39 percent believe he attended an Islamic school as a child growing up in Indonesia. None of these things is true. Finally cracking the code with less-educated whites could have a big payoff for Obama: 85 percent of undecided voters are non-Hispanic whites and only 22 percent of those undecideds have a four-year college degree.

This is precisely what disturbs me about The New Yorker cover. I can appreciate its wit and its purpose as a satirical commentary on the absurdity of extremist politics, however, as my cinema professor's once said, once you release your art to the world, your intention no longer counts. The perception of the viewer is all that will matter in the end. And here in lies the problem. We know the nature of people, they view images and create their own stories in place of the real thing. So to have such a depiction on the cover of such a venerable publication is, at the very least, problematic for Obama and his campaign, considering people actually think this is the real him.

But what do you think? Do you find the image offensive? What kind of an effect (if any) do you think it'll have on the campaign?

12 Response to 'What's Wrong With This Picture?'

  1. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216076640000#c3952478597655949365'> Monday, July 14, 2008 4:04:00 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.


  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216076700000#c2493154474622166393'> Monday, July 14, 2008 4:05:00 PM

    Hi there!

    I have been seeing this image all over the blogosphere very recently and it is OUTRAGEOUSLY racist and offensive...

    So if this publication wants to do a feature on sexism...it's okay to show Michelle Obama squatting on all fours with a dog chain around her neck?

    I think that black readers of that publication need to FLOOD them with complaints!

    Phone number:
    (This is the number for the Subscriptions Department but people can ask to be connected to David Miller.)

    Or they can write a letter:

    David Miller
    Associate Publisher
    The New Yorker
    4 Times square
    New York, NY 10036


    fax: 212-286-5024

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


  3. M.Dot. Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216078740000#c5644729910994963901'> Monday, July 14, 2008 4:39:00 PM

    I am getting HELLLLA REFERRALS from you...hmmmm...no It ain't go too far.

    We NEEDS to Read More Chomsky.

    Spending the last two weeks reading baldwin, shit the image is light weight affirming of this shit he is talking about in "Letter from Harlem" and "The Fire Next Time">


  4. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216079580000#c6082724336331639740'> Monday, July 14, 2008 4:53:00 PM

    Lisa: thanks for the info & for stopping by.

    M.Dot: see, while i can see the satirical element, i know that many are not as well-read or as well-researched as you or i. the average american isn't sitting around reading Baldwin & trying to reconcile the things happening in our country through that critical lens. some people will merely glance at the cover and go off thinking, "see, i told you that fella was working for Osama" or some other weird shit.

    i'm a news junkie, so i SEARCH out info, plus i have common sense. but when you have 12% of of the people Newsweek polled STILL thinking Obama's a muslim, it's hard not to think this cover is problematic.

    btw: since my ppl showing so much love, a sista should garner a link or something. lol


  5. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216084920000#c2998093299115029413'> Monday, July 14, 2008 6:22:00 PM

    Aunt Jackie and I have been blogging over at blogher.com about this.

    Yes letter, emails and blogging.



  6. Miss K Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216088580000#c7493296036468590538'> Monday, July 14, 2008 7:23:00 PM

    You said exactly what is wrong with it--uneducated people who can't interpret art & lit properly, believe everything they hear or read, and suck it up daily from talk show hosts that cram it down their throats.


  7. AfroChic Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216133160000#c7411127153258857069'> Tuesday, July 15, 2008 7:46:00 AM

    It's not offensive it's ineffective. if you have to explain your joke....you know the rest :)
    I found it more offensive to people of Muslim faith because they are continuously and erroneously linked with terrorism. Plus, the people you worry about aren't reading the New Yorker anyway. they are watching Fox news which is much more dangereous. protesting and boycotting the NY'er? nah, we gotta be really careful about navigating that thin line between free speech and censorship.

    TPW, just wanted to say that I really enjoy your writing and frequently lurk at your spot. Really dug the podcast! I even have you linked though I haven't posted anything in a long time.


  8. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216136640000#c6691699166989490885'> Tuesday, July 15, 2008 8:44:00 AM

    lovebabz: thanks for the heads-up. i will check y'all out.

    miss k: my thoughts, exactly. that is what i'm most afraid of. "low information" voters do not read the new yorker, but they watch Fox News *cringe*...how are they going to find out the truth, esp if they aren't actively seeking it?

    afrohick: i agree. the readership of the NYer is more astute & aware of the issues. and actually it's a very liberal-leaning publication, but those that are not as sophisticated will not "get" the intention of the cover. and sis, thanks for reading and lurking. comment often, i like hearing from you!


  9. Christina Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216141380000#c5515890337517891706'> Tuesday, July 15, 2008 10:03:00 AM

    I am offended by the cover of the new yorker. I am at an age where you would hope one day we wouldn't have to deal with this foolishness but it reminds me to not get caught sleeping on the job- so to speak.

    I have written them and I encourage others to do as such.


  10. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216146120000#c5281738806709486422'> Tuesday, July 15, 2008 11:22:00 AM

    was funny to me, i basically what the gop attack machine makes him to be, thats who the make him look.

    im more concerned about the rapid grwth in china, the stabalized juan and how it may make the global economy even worse, but that is just me


  11. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216386420000#c8313594583570288742'> Friday, July 18, 2008 6:07:00 AM

    I'm with Torrance on this one--I thought it was both very effective as satire.

    I don't know where I missed it, but I wasn't aware that satire "has to be explained" as so many people keep saying. I thought part of the point with satire is, if it is done well, you *don't* have to explain it at all. This cartoon was so outlandish and over the top that there was nothing about it that should have been taken so seriously.

    And I don't get the charges of racism.

    I think the people who will take the cartoon literally (and forget the title and excellent article that goes along with it) would have found something else that solidifies reasons they think the stereotypical things they do anyway. Those people will always exist. Nothing you can say or do will convince them otherwise. Granted, if the magazine had stayed within the bounds of its normal readers and had not received all of the media attention and hype it's gotten, I don't think this would be as huge of an issue as it's become.

    So, I guess I'm an odd-girl-out on this one. Not to mention, I think there are so many other issues affecting us for us to so upset about. We need to pick our fights a little more wisely than this.

    As usual, great post!


  12. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture.html?showComment=1216386540000#c7968141080800499199'> Friday, July 18, 2008 6:09:00 AM

    I forgot to add that first and foremost--even beyond the GOP/conservative Dem perpetuation of such fear and stereotypes--I see the cartoon as a general statement about us human beings and our thought processes...