Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Satire makes politics less stuffy

Satire makes politics less stuffy

Deepak Seth • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Editorial Board community member • July 28, 2008

When I was growing up in India, satire was a part of the daily newspaper reading ritual. The central piece on the editorial page, very aptly called the "middle," used to be a satirical look at the issues of the day.

And the "middle" is where I used to go to first before I moved on to the other sections. Moving to the United States, I longed for the "middle." On inquiring about it to my journalist friends, I was told that "news and satire are not mixed together here." People go to the late-night TV shows, Saturday Night Live or Comedy Central to get their dose of satire.

Last week, The New Yorker magazine brought satire center stage by publishing a satirical cartoon of the Obamas on their front cover.

The cover depicts "President Obama" in the Oval Office, wearing a Muslim-style outfit and doing a fist-bump with his wife, Michelle, who is dressed in camouflage with an automatic rifle slung over her back.

A picture of Osama bin Laden hangs above the mantel of the fireplace, which has an American flag burning in it.The Obama and McCain camps both have described the cartoon as "tasteless and offensive." The New Yorker has said the cover satire was obvious and should be seen in that light.

The McCain camp must be thanking their stars that Obama got picked on and not their candidate. But there's a long campaign ahead, and some satirist is going to pen McCain enjoying a back rub in a Hanoi Hilton hot tub as burgers cook and wine flows. Or in a geriatric home fumbling with his hearing aid, senior diapers and other accoutrements of advanced senility.
Both descriptions are over the top, aren't they? Such is the nature of satire — challenging deep-seated prejudices.Maybe the Obamas need to respond with their own satirical interpretation of the cartoon:
  • Michelle Obama has the AK-47 as a salute to the Second Amendment right to bear arms. She is protecting her home and hearth from disgruntled Republicans.
  • Obama is dressed as a Middle Eastern Christian (who dress like their Muslim brethren) as a salute to global Christian unity and world peace.
  • The portrait of bin Laden on the wall indicates that Obama has gotten rid of him (unlike Bush) and has hung his portrait up on the wall like a trophy.
  • Flag in the fireplace: Obama is disposing of an old flag in the only correct way as per U.S. Flag Code, which states: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.''

Let the battle of the satirists begin. Elections are serious business, but we all have a funny bone that needs tickling!


Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be down? Does anybody here at deepaksethspeak.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


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