Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's actually pretty clear

If that New Yorker cover has caused this much controversy, I think it's pretty safe to say that it failed at satire.

There's a number of reasons for that -- I think Chet nails most of it here, basically: it's hard for satire to keep up with the fevered delusions of the modern right. It's as if Swift had written A Modest Proposal at the same time as a number of London shops had just begun selling pies filled with mysteriously tender meat. What is the historical example of extraordinary satire would, in that context, be horrible.

Now, it's not the artist's fault that the right has been driven so mad over the Obamas, but great satire holds a mirror up to our culture and distorts it. The tragic thing for this satire -- which only a few months ago would have clearly been pitch-perfect -- is that at this point, there's no distortion involved.

3 comments:

celestialspeedster said...

That New Yorker cover is no Borat. Wahwahweewah!

Catelli said...

We are a 20 second culture now, aren't we? No one takes time to examine the message or the context in which its delivered.

Maybe its failed satire, but the reaction indicates (yet once again) that nuance, subtlety and intelligent debate are not part of our political culture anymore.

Chet Scoville said...

The tragic thing for this satire -- which only a few months ago would have clearly been pitch-perfect -- is that at this point, there's no distortion involved.

The secret to comedy is ALWAYS timing.