July 17, 2008

Humor theory...

Orrin Judd pins down the peculiarity of the New Yorker-cover kerfluffle...

It's probably useless trying to explain humor theory to people who acknowledge that their ideology forbids them to kid about the guy, but ask yourself a really basic question: what is it they were supposed to be satirizing?

In their derangement, the Left imagines this massive campaign to portray Senator Obama as a crypto-Muslim Medinian Candidate. And, indeed, there were a few hints to that effect from the Clinton camp, but they were more desultory than systematic and Republicans would rather attack from the playbook that always works: he's just a garden-variety Northern liberal. Why confuse the issue?

Effective satire requires an established and recognizable template that you can subtly play off of in order to show the humor inherent in the original. But for anyone outside the lunatic fringe--of both parties--this magazine cover is the original, the first time we've seen the accusations. Thus, it isn't satire but a statement.

Satirizing the perception of Obama as an elitist, or McCain as a loose cannon, works, because these perceptions of the person are really there to be satirized. Satirizing Obama-as-Muslim or Michelle-as-Angela-Davis, does not work, because there's no original to poke fun at. That's not the way us hateful right-wingers see them.

Rush Limbaugh made a joke recently, discussing the cover, and the Obama campaign's reaction, and concluding, "And who gets upset over cartoons? MUSLIMS!" It was a good joke, and funny precisely because no one is really worried about Obama being a Muslim.

Posted by John Weidner at July 17, 2008 07:25 AM
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