Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Danish, Anyone?

I've found a compelling reason for me not to vote for Obama in the upcoming Presidential elections.

Actually, I have two. The first has to do with Joe Janes' apparent third-party candidacy, and my hope for his endorsement in 30-some years. The second has to do completely with the potential for comedy.

Say what you will about 'W' but he has been great fodder for jokes and will continue to be for a long long time. Same thing is true for many of our recent Presidents (Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, etc. etc.) Hell, I make Martin VanBuren jokes all the time, and he's been dead for over a hundred and fifty years!

McCain presents plenty of opportunity for humor. And Bob Barr who is the libertarian candidate does as well, particularly when you consider his former affiliation with the GOP (mascot: elephant) and his name's similarity to a certain cartoon children's book character.

But Barack Obama? Apparently, at least according to this article, not funny. And that worries me.

Making fun of politicians and, in particular, world leaders is one of the greatest benefits of our freedom of speech. We have a time honored tradition in this country of making fun of our Presidents, even the really really good ones. I mean, who doesn't love a Lincoln joke?

But with Barack Obama we are looking at a possible drought in Presidential ribbing, not only because he is not an apparent dribbling moron or sex addict but because the backlash to making a joke is becoming more and more extreme by the day.

Take this New Yorker cover debacle.

The New Yorker put this cartoon on their cover for the July 21 issue. Since then many pro-Obama people have been flipping out. Here's an example:

"What explanation -- other than everyone at the New Yorker being turned into a
Pat Buchanan clone -- can one find for the fact that the best magazine in
America has produced the FOX News/Karl Rove poster of the Obama family?"

Yikes. For a famous bastion of east coast liberalism like the New Yorker, comparison to FOX News is possibly the biggest insult imaginable.

Now to be fair, I am the one who wigged out when I saw an Anti-Obama smear video and felt the need to write a 30 page dissertation on why I thought it was a load of crap. But before you all start calling me a hypocrite, I'd like to point out that this is a cartoon.

And that goes to everyone. This is a cartoon, people.

And while the smear video was intended to sew the seeds of fear in the minds of those who unwittingly open their email, this cartoon is intended for comic purposes, namely to take all of the myriad irrational fears about Obama and place them in the same picture in the hopes that people find it ridiculous.

Is it funny? Well, when the editor of the New Yorker has to explain the joke to everyone, the answer is pretty much a resounding 'No.' But this should not come as a surprise; the New Yorker's cartoons are never funny. In fact, I have never seen a New Yorker cartoon that was anything but lame. If you all know of one, let me know.

I have memories from childhood of sitting in waiting rooms trying to figure out the cartoons. "Cartoons are supposed to be funny? Why aren't these cartoons funny? Why would someone draw a cartoon if it wasn't supposed to be funny?"

Side note, who reads the New Yorker anyway? Seriously? I can't remember the last time I saw someone actively reading a New Yorker.

But to fear that the hope of an Obama Presidency is so tenuous that any attempt at a joke could cause that hope to vanish, even when the joke is just a snobbish attempt by the New Yorker to make fun of people and their irrational fears, is in and of itself ridiculous. So ridiculous that I would ridicule it except that I have my own ridiculous fear that these ridiculous people would find out about it and hunt me down. I mean, who is this guy that he can't take an obvious bad joke from a New Yorker cartoon?

Again, Yikes.

So here's hoping people calm the hell down. As someone who likes to make the occasional joke, I would rather not live in a world of people with no sense of humor.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Nat. I can't believe you are actually the voice of reason on this issue. I especially liked the image of you reading The New Yorker's cartoons as a child in a waiting room, and wondering why they weren't funny. I often get that same feeling when reading your scenes at RvD meetings.

And Martin Van Buren was a piece of shit.

Unknown said...

At least my scenes aren't one long dick joke.

By that, I mean that I don't have the courage to write the way I speak in real life.