Monday, July 14, 2008

Humor 101

This week’s The New Yorker cover:

“The Politics of Fear” by Barry Blitt

Rachel Sklar at Huffington Post:

…according to the NYer press release, [it] “satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the Presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign.” Uh-huh. What’s that they say about repeating a rumor?

Presumably the New Yorker readership is sophisticated enough to get the joke, but still: this is going to upset a lot of people, probably for the same reason it’s going to delight a lot of other people, namely those on the right: Because it’s got all the scare tactics and misinformation that has so far been used to derail Barack Obama’s campaign — all in one handy illustration. Anyone who’s tried to paint Obama as a Muslim, anyone who’s tried to portray Michelle as angry or a secret revolutionary out to get Whitey, anyone who has questioned their patriotism— well, here’s your image.

Lesson #1 in humor: If you have to explain the joke, you didn’t tell it right.