Home > 2000 recount, humor, Iran, satire > Another Troubling New Yorker Cover

Another Troubling New Yorker Cover

 Consider these two New Yorker covers:

June 29, 2009  July 21, 2008

Both are by Barry Blitt. The one depicting the radical, terrorist, Muslim Obamas “graced” the July 21, 2008, issue, and caused what I considered to be way too much controversy. It was obviously intended to mock the right-wing media’s treatment of Obama, and was in fact entitled “The Politics of Fear.” But, following the magazine’s unbreakable convention, the title didn’t appear on the cover, but in the Table of Contents. Some worried that, especially without the benefit of the title, many would miss the joke. I never thought so; it struck me as what I’ll call “projection snobbery” — attributing to the New Yorker and its readers condescension and disregard of the opinions of those “too dumb” to get it, while it turned out that everyone got it.

The other cover,  “Hanging Chador”, is from next Monday’s issue, which I received yesterday. Yes, I get it: There’s a disputed election in Iran, and there was also a disputed election in the U.S.! It happened in 2000!!

It’s early, but so far I’ve not seen any expression of disapproval, in the mainstream media or even in the blogosphere, over the image. But for reasons I’m finding hard to articulate (readers? any help?), I find this “Hanging Chador” much more offensive than “The Politics of Fear.”

Up front, I’m not one of those people who’s ever been able to take “Justice” Scalia’s advice and “get over” the Supreme Court’s wholly unprincipled ruling in Bush v. Gore, effectively  handing the election to Bush 43. (It doesn’t help that the man the Court installed was a cataclysm.) But there was some comedy in the whole Florida recount, and no B-level comedian was able to resist verbal or visual puns on the “hanging chads” that might have determined the outcome (again absent the Supreme Court’s hijack). Despite some very bad and occasionally borderline-scary behavior, no one was being killed over the 2000 election, and even I must admit that the Republic yet stands.

There’s nothing remotely funny about what is going on Iran, though. Indeed, the New Yorker’s own Laura Secor is at the top of my list of clear and careful writers on the subject; in both her blog and in her Talk of the Town comment, her lucid prose and clear exposition make the horror, the stakes, and the shifting landscape (lately among the clerics) clear.

The cover, by contrast, is clever and jokey — not what’s called for. I rarely think that jokes are inappropriate, but in this case I see a profound if unintended disrespect. There’s no one in Iran scrutinizing ballots to discern “the intent of the voter.” The votes didn’t matter, and the protesters’ attempt to make it otherwise are being met with intimidation, violence, and death.

Very funny.

  1. Kris
    June 25th, 2009 at 16:29 | #1

    I’m not sure I share the same feelings about the cover in general. I do not think that it is as much of a joke as it might seem. It seems to me that Blitt is attempting to illustrate that our great democracy can share a political blunder with a country in termoil. Basically, we had a botched election and so did they. I DO think it is in bad taste to use a likness of Neda Agha-Soltan on the cover. It may be my imagination, but looks like pictures I have seen of her.

    I do think it is an interesting cover: the Iranian seemingly looking at the ballot thinking “These little hanging pieces of paper ruined your election and spurred a crappy movie with Kevin Spacey? HA. Look what we have to deal with.” In 2000 we were given a dope. Now Iran is has a dictator. This is about the only situation where I will say, Thank God we got George Bush.

  2. Nader
    July 5th, 2009 at 17:23 | #2

    As an Iranian-American, who was a college student and anti-government protester, in Iran during the Rev. of 1978, I found the cover of New Yorker, “Hanging Chador,” not just funny but appropriate. There is nothing offensive about it, unless the offended is a supporter of Ahmadi-Nejad and/or mini-Bush. Biting humor has always been a large part of the language and behavior of the opposition in Iran — slogans, such as “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, fill in the blank has got to go,” has no equivalence in the Iranian tradition of protesting, where slogans are created on the fly and usually with a ripping humor. “Hanging Chador” fits in the tradition perfectly.

  1. No trackbacks yet.