Monday, July 14, 2008

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

I've never dug the whole borderline homophobic Seinfeld episode where they harp on gay people and clean it all up with "not that there's anything wrong with that." The simple act of implying that there could be something "wrong" with being gay, although Seinfeld and his posse were way too cool to think such things (obviated by the constant need to defend their words and/or actions), always seemed to me to be more than a little offensive and hypocritical. It's like having a discussion about gay public affairs, current events, hell, even clubs or people you know but making sure to state that you (or me or them or whomever) are not gay. It's the guy who talks about going to a gay club one weekend but stressing how awkward he felt having guys hit on him. Or the girl who talks about girl-on-girl sex but follows it up with an explanation about how sexuality is more fluid with women, so same sex exploits don't equate with lesbianism.

All of this is a long way of saying that the above picture sucks. I like satire. I appreciate satire. I even love a good French farce (and don't lecture me on the difference between satire and farce - I know). But this? is not cool. The thing is that it's mainly not cool because it came from the New Yorker. I know this expectation of liberal open-mindedness from a pseudo-intelligensia magazine exposes some of my baser assumptions about media, and I guess that's the talking point to take away from all of this. I think racism is a real issue. I think we all have to constantly question our assumptions and thoughts about what is and is not okay about the way we think and portray ourselves (i.e. our externalization of our internal mechanisms).

I guess the moral of the story is that just because you consider yourself liberal, open-minded, non-racist (or non homophobic in Seinfeld's case) doesn't mean that a) you actually are (at least not always) and b) you get to be above reproach because you no longer clutch your purse tighter when a black man walks beside you.

And sometimes the response to the initial negative thing (the New Yorker says it's satiring all the misinformation out there) only creates a second, independent negative thing. But, like the editor from the New Yorker said on Morning Joe this morning, they totally didn't mean it that way. So you dumbasses out there who are offended, you're obviously not intelligent enough to read our magazine anyway. With that reassurance I guess we can all go back to reading our fancy media publications, drinking our lattes, and watching our Seinfeld re-runs. Not that there's anything wrong with that.


Anonymous said...

Phrases I absolutely loathe:

"...not that there's anything wrong with that."

"Don't take this personally/the wrong way, but..."

"I love ___ to pieces, but..."

" offense..."

Thinly veiled passive-aggressive obnoxiousness is one of the fastest ways to get me annoyed.

RanaElizabeth said...

I actually see nothing wrong with the cover. Regardless of what the New Yorker meant by it or what they were trying to do/say, I absolutely love that the media (and hopefully the rest of America) is talking about the forms that racism takes. Racism, sexism, homphobia, all of those goodies are still rampant. And it's not just Joe-Bob with his Confederate flag, it's the people down in the medical records room at work who assume that because Obama is black and his name isn't William or Jason, he must be Muslim.

Can I also comment on the Michelle stuff? This is also what continually pisses me off about HRC. She's a really strong woman with really strong ideas. I don't care what those ideas are, just the mere fact that they aren't right-wing/main stream they are labeled as un-patriotic. Fuck that.

Anyway, I don't think this comment even made any sense. I may have forgotten a verb or two. My whole point is that I love this cover because the 65+ female, suburban coworker admitted that she thought Obama was Muslim for a very long time. Anytime that the Media is called out is a good thing, in my book.

Anonymous said...

I heard this on the radio a few days ago:

It's about a group called Latinas for McCain. Some of the ardent organizers are thoroughly convinced that Obama is (or at least was) a Muslim and went to jihad schools. They find fault with him largely because he abandoned his church, and think he abandoned the Muslim faith, too, so he's not to be trusted.

It's amazing.

Tina said...

Another thing to consider: how offensive must it be to the Muslim community that in this New Yorker portrayal of the "worst ever" (i.e. burning a flag, homaging Bin Laden), Obama is a Muslim? Why is that such a horrifying thing? He's not but what does it matter if he is? Or, I guess a better way of looking at it (because sensibly I know why it matters) is why is it comparable to burning a flag and liking bin Laden?

Further, why are black racial stereotypes (big ips and an afro) on Michelle as well? What kind of misinformation is the New Yorker trying to dispell here? That Michelle is black?

Like you, Rana, I like that the media is talking about the misinformation perpetuated by the HRC campaign (sorry, it's true), but I think the New Yorker missed the mark by miles.

As for the "unpatriotic" shit, I blame Rove and Bush for all of that. No one dared call someone unpatriotic until Bush started telling us that questioning him or our government (after 9/11) made us so. Hence our unfortunate war.

Squishy - so what, we all have to be religious fanatics to be part of the government of the U.S., which has a constitution that specifically prohibits mixing the two? Nice.

People will use any excuse to dislike and/or hate someone. I'm just sorry that religion is such a strong motivator.

Material Lust said...

Tina, I totally agree about the whole controversy surrounding being Muslim. I hate that his campaign feels like they need to clarify that he's not Muslim. If he was Muslim, would that be so bad? I guess to some people, the answer would be yes, and frankly, that's just sad. There's so much misinformation about the Islamic faith, it's staggering.

I'm still kind of in awe that this image made it to the cover of The New Yorker. Satire or not, it's in poor taste and I'm amazed that the people at The New Yorker thought that people would interpret this "satire" correctly. I know the point of satire isn't to be in your face, but in this day and age, with the media we have in this country, why would anyone think that this would be perceived as anything other than completely offensive? Maybe their point was just to create a stir to drive up sales. Ridiculous, either way you look at it.

Tina said...

Material - I agree 100%. I'm inherently offended by the assumption that being Muslim is tied to terrorism, or at the very least a religion that a state leader cannot be a part of.

I'm also super happy that people are in such an uproar and canceling their New Yorker subscriptions. Power to the people.