The Best Commentary on that Idiotic New Yorker Cover. . .
posted by Frank Pasquale
that I’ve seen so far is from lawprof David Dante Troutt, writing in the Washington Independent:
[T]he meaning of its manifest vulgarity— depicting Michelle Obama as a Cleopatra Jones of anarchy; Barack Obama, defamed by, of all things, Islamic dress and linked once and for all with Osama bin Laden, burning . . . the American flag — [is] up for grabs. . . .The cover is destructive and misguided satire because viewers act on its meanings independently, with no guidance from the satirist.
I know the folks who did this. I went to school with them, work with them, dine with them, pass them in the halls of my children’s school. I know them well enough that they are almost me. They are elitists, and you can know them by their smugness. Not only did they think this was funny and clever and smart in a pro-Obama way, but they figured that its edginess would separate the kindred readers who get it from the ignorant multitudes that would not. . . .
This is very Harvard, where I went to school; very New York City, where I live. Between then and now, I’ve watched the distance close between erudition and intellectual hipsterism. . . Like the Beltway they mock, they cannot help but interview each other again and again in order to understand the world. From within the four-corners of this downtown/Hamptons exclusivity, they never venture far — unless it’s really, really far, like exotic.
I don’t usually use words like “idiotic” on the blog, but I think it’s appropriate here because it resonates with the word’s root’s original Greek connotation of personal, isolated, cut off (as in idiom or idiosyncrasy). Commentators like Troutt (and Glenn Greenwald) cannot remind us of the press’s insularity too often.