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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2008-07-13 16:53
Subject: [links] Belated Sunday link salad
Security: Public
Tags:cool, funny, links, personal, politics, religion

A dark sky over Death Valley — Another brilliant image from APOD.

Things Skippy Can’t Do — If you’ve ever worked in, or with, IT, this is hilarious. Not utterly work-safe, but not obviously troublesome. (Thanks to lt260.)

The Other FamilyFamily Circus cartoons, recaptioned in a rather NSFW and amazingly funny way. Not for the squeamish. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Pictures from the sky — Fascinating aerial images. (From Mark Hamzy via willyumtx.)

A lost world made by women — Feminism, 13th century style.

Church Cancels Teen Gun Giveaway — Wow. That’s, um, Christlike of them. (Thanks to lt260.)

Upcoming New Yorker cover showing the Obamas as terrorists — Your Liberal Media, hard at work. This is just fucking disgusting. (And I use the obscenity quite deliberately.)


7/13/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (travelling)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a
Currently reading: n/a

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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International Bon Vivant and Raconteur
User: nick_kaufmann
Date: 2008-07-13 23:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"The Other Family" is hilarious!
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ericjamesstone
User: ericjamesstone
Date: 2008-07-14 00:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Jay, usually when you do the "Your Liberal Media" links, you're linking to things you think show that the media has a conservative, rather than liberal, bias. But in this case, I think it's pretty clear this is a case of a liberal media outlet trying to be ironic and falling completely flat. They wanted to ridicule the right-wingers who believe Obama is secretly a Muslim terrorist, not support them.

I'm not saying you're wrong to condemn the caricature. I'm just saying it is not the result of conservative bias by the New Yorker.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 03:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm not saying you're wrong to condemn the caricature. I'm just saying it is not the result of conservative bias by the New Yorker.

Point taken, and I agree with you. For what it's worth, I don't think there's an especially conservative bias at many major new outlets, not internally, but the right has been so much more effective than the left over the past thirty years at crying "bias" that virtually all major outlets err on the side of caution in what to me looks like the wrong direction. So for example you don't see much reporting on McCain's continued confusion of facts on a number of foreign and domestic issues, to avoid perception of liberal bias.

But we are currently in a media environment where on-air talent at major news networks has no problem using "terrorist" as an adjective to describe Obama (E.D. Hill's comment on FOX about the "terrorist fist jab"). The image on the New Yorker cover is clearly intended to be ironic -- consider the source -- but it feeds directly into the paranoid fantasies of FOX News and millions of Americans.

At the kindest interpretation, it was a moronic editorial decision. And there is nothing about this that serves liberal interests, or frankly, the interests of the political process in general.

At the same time, those pesky First Amendment rights come into play. They can dis Obama all they want to, just like FOX News, regardless of any resemblance to facts or common sense. But if the conservative media and the liberal media are both calling Obama a terrorist, albeit for different reasons (paranoia vs irony), where does that leave a liberal with an interest in media politics?

Screwed, pretty much.
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2008-07-14 06:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
"They can dis Obama all they want to, just like FOX News, regardless of any resemblance to facts or common sense."

But how does it "dis Obama"? You seem to be simultaneously believing that it is "clearly intended to be ironic" and mocking conservative paranoia, yet also believing that it really is somehow an attack on Obama.

I confess I'm a bit confused; my reaction to the cover was not an extreme reaction of "fucking disgust", since it seems to me to be obviously a parody of anti-Obama paranoia, not a dis against Obama... now I'm trying to figure out if I'm underreacting or you're overreacting. :)

I guess your point is that the people it is parodying will see the art and it will (consciously or unconsciously?) reinforce their image of Obama as terrorist? That seems a dangerous slippery slope to me. By the same reasoning it seems like most other parody is "bad" too; e.g. pro-gay-rights people who joke ironically about there being insidious gay conspiracies to convert fundamentalist Christians into homosexuals ("I won my toaster for getting 5 new gay converts this month!") are irresponsibly encouraging that fundamentalist anti-gay paranoia...?
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russ: watchmen
User: goulo
Date: 2008-07-14 11:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:watchmen
Reading comments at americablog (http://www.americablog.com/2008/07/new-yorker-cover-shows-oval-office-with.html#disqus_thread
I see I'm apparently in a minority in not being oturaged at this. But there are some comments like this which resonate for me:
I hate the argument that artists are responsible for idiots who will take a piece of their work the wrong way. It is obvious to anyone with three brain cells that this is a total send-up of the ridiculous and racist right-wing caricature of the Obamas. Granted, that description of cerebral deficiency applies to a painfully large number of our fellow Americans. That, however, is not the responsibility of those of us who aren't riding Uncle Dubya's Short Bus.

It's the same as blaming Marilyn Manson for the Columbine shootings back in the 90s. Or those wingnuts that blamed their kids' suicides on Judas Priest back in the 80s. Or the people who write off rap music because some dumbass was too stupid to realize that the "guns and bitches and hos" talk is hyperbole and caricature.

It's really scary when people start saying things like, "What are we going to do about this?" Knee-jerk responses and mob mentality is frightening, whether it comes from left or right. What are you going to do? Clamor for people to get fired? Call for the shutdown of a magazine that next week you'll be verbally fellating when they write an anti-Bush/Cheney editorial? Act like the equal opposite of the very right-wingers you're afraid won't understand this? Write about something we don't like and we'll grab the torches and come a runnin'. Let's make ourselves into a bunch of little liberal James Dobsons and Fred Phelpses.

and
Seriously -- how is this any different than Stephen Colbert, with a straight face, describing Barack Obama as a secret Muslim? This was created out of the same train of thought that led Jon Stewart to create the Daily Show's "Baracknophobia" segments.

and
No obvious spoof? Are you joking? Michelle as Anglea with an auto, and Barack giving her the Fox-terrorist fist bump; Osama on the wall? You don't see that this is directly spoofing Fox, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al? Has my Democratic party really become this dumb? Good lord, I had no idea we'd slumped this badly.

and
Well, hell, if it's that easy, all we have to do is draw a picture of McCain dining on babies.

Will you listen to yourselves?

and
The cover will only do harm if we run from it. Embrace it. When the right wing looks at the cover and sees that it is from that hated liberal rag, the New Yorker, they will be quaking in their boots knowing that they have lost that tool in their arsenal of lies. Even more frightening to them is to know that we are laughing, laughing, laughing at them. The New Yorker had to do this. The harm would have been if the right had put this out instead. And you know this is exactly their strategy for attacking Obama. Laugh! Laugh! They can't win if we laugh. Much more effective than any denial.


But ultimately we'll simply have to wait and see if the dire predictions are true, i.e. that this image will cause many people (who otherwise wouldn't have voted for McCain) to believe Obama is a Muslim terrorist Manchurian candidate etc, and thus vote for McCain. None of us knows for sure what will happen.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 13:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I didn't have a "what will we do about this?" reaction. The New Yorker can do whatever the hell they want. It's a free country, something that at least some of us liberal-progressives seem to be able to remember. I had an "oh, you morons" reaction. Which, to your earlier point, may be an overreaction.

But in political terms, a single image can influence an entire campaign. Jimmy Carter and the killer rabbit. Michael Dukakis in the tank. This cover bears the strong risk of being the political equivalent of yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre.
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russ: watchmen
User: goulo
Date: 2008-07-14 13:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:watchmen
So seriously: what's the difference between this and Stephen Colbert with a straight face, describing Barack Obama as a secret Muslim? Is there any qualitative difference in principle, or is it just a quantitative difference of degree? Or is Colbert's satire also fucking disgusting?

I guess I have a strong sense that if art like this which so obviously satirizes anti-Obama paranoia is taboo because it supposedly backfires and makes those anti-Obama paranoid people vote for McCain... well, then the US is already lost anyway. Analogous to the old cliche that "if we [self-censor, install draconian inane security at airports, torture prisoners, spy on citizens, etc], then the terrorists have already won". If we can't take the risk that over-the-top satire will be taken literally, then, well, I don't know, it's an just absurd situation.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 13:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
First of all: I may well be wrong here.


But to answer your Colbert question, soundbites don't have the persistence, or information richness, that images do. Also, it's pretty much impossible to cite, quote or replay Colbert without the irony coming through in a way that's visible even to many of the irony-impaired. This image can be recontextualized very easily.

And I don't think it's taboo, I just think it's a goddamned bad idea. And you're right, people who believe that shit aren't going to vote for Obama anyway. But it still feels like playing with matches in a gas station to me.

I suppose it's that many people won't see this as over the top. These would be pretty much the same people who believed Hillary Clinton decorated the White House Christmas tree with crack pipes and condoms, but they prevailed in the past two presidential elections. Why feed the trolls?
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russ: quo vadis
User: goulo
Date: 2008-07-14 14:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:quo vadis
I guess analogous to your feeling like "Why feed the trolls?" I feel like "Why pander to bigoted idiots?" When an artist sincerely makes an image to satirize anti-Obama idiocy and then has Obama supporters attacking him so viciously, it kind of makes me think "Wow, the anti-Obama crowd has done their work well if we're so hyperventilating about how this obvious parody could hurt Obama." Or maybe it's just the same old cliche that leftists/progressives engage in too much in-fighting and disagreement introspection, I don't know.

OK, I see the point that for better or worse perhaps one should worry about such things, but man. Keep down that road of self-censorship and second-guessing how the wrong people might react wrongly to your work, and soon you'll be deciding you better not write stuff like Mainspring because some readers take it as endorsing God and Intelligent Design. Somewhere there's a line between "safe" satire and "matches in a gas station", but the line is not clear to me.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 14:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You are making me rethink my reactions here quite carefully. Thank you.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 13:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm still thinking about my issue here. I suppose it's that so many people seem to be willing to believe this crankery that anything which feeds the fire just strikes me as nuts. I'd expect no less from the Right, but for the Left (such as it is represented by The New Yorker) to feed the meme is profoundly self-defeating. And will give the (severely irony-impaired) Right ammunition forever more to say, "See, it's not just us!"
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calendula_witch: white orchid
User: calendula_witch
Date: 2008-07-14 00:39 (UTC)
Subject: Family Circus
Keyword:white orchid
Other Family--ha. Have you seen this? http://www.losanjealous.com/nfc/
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Jay Lake: funny-buddahomer
User: jaylake
Date: 2008-07-14 03:55 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Family Circus
Keyword:funny-buddahomer
That is stupid funny.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2008-07-14 01:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This looks like a re-run of The Dysfunctional Family Circus, and quite frankly, it's not nearly as funny. DFC was far better; they even published collections. I've got two, Ibex my Ass, That's a Goat!, and Who Wants to See A Hamster Dance?. My favorite is still Billy with a bunch of other boys around a campfile: "Man, thanks to the saltpeter the counselors put in the chow, I couldn't get it up with an Erector Set."

DFC was C&D'd to death, although they tried a few times to revive it.

If you want something similar but dadaesque, try The Nietzsche Family Circus.

Edited at 2008-07-14 01:23 am (UTC)
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scottedelman
User: scottedelman
Date: 2008-07-14 00:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The only way that cover would have worked would have been to have attacked both candidates equally, showing, for example, McCain there as well, in a wheelchair, drooling on himself.

But even then ...
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Edward Greaves
User: temporus
Date: 2008-07-14 01:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh man, now I'm totally going to have to rickroll some of the other IT guys.
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Joanne Merriam
User: joannemerriam
Date: 2008-07-14 01:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The comments on that NYer piece are just depressing.
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Twilight: Daria
User: twilight2000
Date: 2008-07-14 01:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Daria
I'm with scottedelman -- if both were lampooned in the same extreme "feeds the whispers" way, maybe...

But this -- and the comments make me want to puke.

I've written my great displeasure directly to the New Yorker. There's a difference between a good lampoon and feeding the hysterical whispers.

God help me, but they may have actually done the damage so many pundits thought Jeremiah Wright was gonna do. This is ugly.

I expect *far* better than this from The New Yorker.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-07-15 10:16 (UTC)
Subject: re The Other Family
You might also like garfield minus garfield:
http://garfieldminusgarfield.tumblr.com/

So sad, so hilarious!

cheers,
Nee in Germany
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