Monday, July 14, 2008

The Obamas on The New Yorker

My first thought was, what’s with Michelle’s afro? Obama’s outfit and the Osama painting and even Michelle’s rifle and ammo clip all suggest a coherent (if toothless) theme: that the Obamas are secretly Muslim terrorists.
The Afro is, I guess, meant to suggest 70s-era black nationalism: a second “fear,” which is that the Obamas and particularly Michelle are black militants or Communists or otherwise “un-American.”
This cover is about blackness as much as it is about “terrorism” or any other purportedly race-neutral satirical point that can be made about it. And I think that’s where the fault line is: the smooth blending of blackness with terrorism, foreignness, and danger that lies beneath the “secret Muslim” whispers.


Brandon said...

I find this strange because the headlines that Blitt is "riffing" from are already so old -- the fist jab from over a month ago and the Kenyan garb from over four months ago. Additionally, is Blitt supposed to be funny? Because his art just seems pretty bland and without any great or insightful perspective. I'm kind of convinced that he hit upon the "blackness" that you suggest by sheer accident.

Gavin said...

Actually, in term of the New Yorker's readership, I think its pretty clever. Certainly it's scary to think that there are people who think that this is what the Obamas are going to do if and when Barak takes office, but that's kind of the whole point. It's something out of a blacksploitation movie. It's Shaft having sex with a white woman and telling her to shut the door on the way out.

"You mean you didn't realize I was Black? Stupid whitey."

I think that it's key to fighting misperceptions not to silence them, but to talk about them, clearly, and firmly. And then ridicule them. Will Limbaugh turn and run with it? Probably. But let's keep making fun of him too.