July 14, 2008

Everybody's talking about The New Yorker... and balls!

The power of cartoons! After devoting an hour to updating my post on the Barry Blitt cover, I go over to Memeorandum to see what else people are blogging about right now, and I see that everybody's talking about that New Yorker cover. I'm actually going to get around to reading that long, apparently well-researched article inside the magazine, the one about whatever it is Barack Obama did to rise to power inside that political mystery that is Chicago, but — as Art Spiegelman once said

Comics "go directly to the id.''

Kick us in the id and we cry out instantly. It will take us a while to do the background reading. Meanwhile, we bloggers will do the foreground writing.

Here's Michelle Malkin, reacting to Obama's reaction: "Grow a pair, Obama."

And Kevin Drum is all at first I thought it was kinda funny....
But at the risk of seeming humorless, that reaction didn't last too long. Maybe it's because this kind of satire just doesn't work, no matter how well it's done. But mostly it's because a few minutes thought convinced me it was gutless. If artist Barry Blitt had some real cojones...
What is this fascination with balls? Jesse Jackson wants to cut Obama's, which presumes their existence. Michelle Malkin thinks they don't exist. Kevin Drum thinks they don't exist on Blitt — they've been oblitterated — though they may somehow exist in fake — or un-Spanish — form. But if Blitt had had real cojones...
... he would have drawn the same cover but shown it as a gigantic word bubble coming out of John McCain's mouth — implying, you see, that this is how McCain wants the world to view Obama. But he didn't. Because that would have been unfair.
Uh... no... because it would have been absurdly cluttered, stupid looking, and hard to draw. Not to mention clunkily literal and no fun at all. Blitt lacks balls because he assumes we have brains?

Drum speculates about what would have happened if his dopey mouth-bubble idea had appeared as a New Yorker cover:
And McCain would have complained about it. And for some reason, the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame McCain is somehow seen as worse than the risk that a failed satire would unfairly defame Obama.

So: gutless. And whatever else you can say about it, good satire is never gutless.
It's gutless because Obama and not McCain was the one to get mad? Why does Drum even think that makes sense? Surely, The New Yorker's readers overwhelmingly favor Obama. To offend McCain would be stroking their id.

All I can think is that Drum feels threatened by McCain's anger and unthreatened by Obama's anger. Is he still talking about balls?


Beldar said...

Of course, Hillary was the candidate whose Democratic supporter Paul Gipson, president of a steelworkers' local, described as having "testicular fortitude" — an implied contrast to Obama. But Obama's got plenty of self-regard; he just usually expresses it in ways other than the traditional alpha male stereotype personified by Gary Cooper.

Obama: The Passive-Aggressive Candidate!

Michael_H said...

Balls schmalls.

This is all just another horseshit way to keep Obama in the press, in the discussion, on the blogs, and on the commentariats' lips and fingertips.

Can you not see through it or are you so blinded by Obama worship that every cartoonish magazine cover must be analyzed and evaluated for days on end?

Outis said...

Courtesy of AC/DC:

I'm upper, upper class high society
God's gift to ballroom notoriety
And I always fill my ballroom
The event is never small
All the social papers say I've got the biggest balls of all

I've got big balls
I've got big balls
And they're such big balls
Dirty big balls
And he's got big balls,
And she's got big balls,
But we've got the biggest balls of them all!

And my balls are always bouncing
My ballroom always full
And everybody comes and comes again
If your name is on the guest list
No one can take you higher
Everybody says I've got great balls of fire!


Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they're held for pleasure,
They're the balls that I like best.
And my balls are always bouncing,
To the left and to the right.
It's my belief that my big balls should be held every night.


And I'm just itching to tell you about them
Oh, we have such wonderful fun

Spread Eagle said...

All I can think is that Drum feels threatened by McCain's anger and unthreatened by Obama's anger.

Maybe it's because it would be grossly inaccurate --indeed a lie-- to try to pin it on McCain. McCain has made it clear, first, that he doesn't traffic in those kinds of attacks and won't tolerate it, and, second, that he doesn't want it done by anybody else on his behalf. McCain has made it so clear in fact that maybe Drum is afraid it would backfire if he tried to pin it on McCain.

rhhardin said...

I'm surprised they didn't do the Eustice Tilly cartoon for Obama.

AllenS said...

Can't say his middle name, can't do funnies about him. What a wimp.

Paddy O. said...

I love the AP article title.

"Magazine's 'satirical' cover stirs controversy"

Satirical in quotes, with an HuffPo quote at the end of the article.

By not having a sense of humor, Obama fanned the controversy so a whole, whole lot more people will see and debate the cover, and Obama's reaction to the cover, and media attention of the cover.

Obama is less Kennedyesque in this, revealing a Nixonian lack of humor and worsen-the-situation response.

He could have easily used the satire for his benefit. Now we wonder why it hits too close to home and how this might translate to provocations from enemy countries.

Paddy O. said...

The AP article link.

AntonK said...

As LGF says:

"The cover is obviously a moonbat parody of what they think are right-wing ideas about their messiah. But they got so meta with it, they ended up wrapping around and making themselves look stupid.

But not quite as stupid as the Kos Kidz, who determinedly refuse to get the joke and unload on the New Yorker in dozens of diary posts, including this 2,353-comment monster: Daily Kos: The New Yorker Obama cover: OMFG, WTF?

vbspurs said...

Obama is less Kennedyesque in this, revealing a Nixonian lack of humor

Yes, and yes.

Clinton also didn't have a sense of humour about himself, and he was vindictive with even his partisans. He countered that attitude with an affable general demeanour, at least in public.

The only thing I can say about Obama is that he doesn't seem to have the same amount of vindictiveness as Clinton did.

Even his manifold "throwing under the bus" reversals lacked...balls.

It's like he has no passion, you know?


EnigmatiCore said...

I think he should have drawn Obama's balls coming out of McCain's mouth. Wouldn't have made a lick's worth of sense, but that would have been edgy.

Roger J. said...

Hadn't thought about Obama as the prototypical Weberian Charismatic Leader--but Weber could well have been talking about and obama and his bots!

vbspurs said...

To add to Antonk's Kos links, the latest poll "New Yorker, LOL or WTF?" (catchy), so far 55% have voted:

"It is tasteless and damaging. It only reinforces the lies told about Obama."

It's not like even bad publicity is good publicity in this case. The New Yorker just disaffected its own very dwindling readership.

OTOH, the NYer represents that very elitist type of Democrat which Hillary Clinton embodies. David Remnick, the editor, might have been in Obama's camp since day 1 -- but were its readers?

I'm sure the entire Upper East Side will wet itself when their copy arrives this week.


Bissage said...

(1) If the cartoonist’s wit is as sharp as a knife, does an offended Barack Obama have to shoot him with a gun?

(2) By the way, as a public service, I should mention that it’s a whole lot of fun to pronounce the word “balls” as “bwawls.” Go ahead. Try it. See? You’re welcome.

Melinda said...

Blitt lacks balls because he assumes we have brains?

I was looking for a way to sum up Drum's opinion, so thanks and now I don't have to.

I saw the cover on NY1's "In The Papers" this morning. I was barely awake, and even I thought, "Oh, I get it, that's what Obama's opponents think is gonna happen if he wins the election."

Henry said...

Here's a painting with balls.

David said...

Obama had to say he found the satire tasteless and offensive. Otherwise, he would have been implicitly condoning the portrait painted.

And that's the brilliance of the cover: it shows, in way words never can, how neurotic we all are about the long-established fact that no candidate is who s/he seems, and how no one is saying or can afford to say what they mean.

Verso said...

All I can think is that Drum feels threatened by McCain's anger and unthreatened by Obama's anger.

It's not McCain's or Obama's anger. It's about the media's anger -- the shitstorm that would ensue if anyone dared to criticize St. McMaverick.

For example, at one of his recent town hall events last week, McCain was caught on tape lying to an American veteran about his voting record. The veteran confronted him about his votes against vet's benefits in recent years. Instead of being a man, much less a straight talker, McCain just lied.

Now, try to imagine the hell there would have been to pay if this had been Obama. If Obama stood there and lied to one of our soliders, the MSM would have melted down, with nothing else covered for weeks. "Obama twists the knife in the backs of our fighting men and women! They are sacficing themeselves to protect our freedom, and this is the thanks they get from Obama."

I'm sure this blog would cover it.

But you see, there are different rules for McCain and Obama, both in "moderate" blogs and the mainstream media.

Henry said...

How right you are. It's a vast no-wing conspiracy.

Ann Althouse said...

Bissage: "(2) By the way, as a public service, I should mention that it’s a whole lot of fun to pronounce the word “balls” as “bwawls.” Go ahead. Try it. See? You’re welcome."

Okay, that made me laugh more than anything in the last month. "Bwawls." Say it today!

vbspurs said...

Okay, that made me laugh more than anything in the last month. "Bwawls." Say it today!

That made me laugh for a full minute.

There is a word that never fails to make me laugh, until tears stream down my face.

Chile has a soccer club called...Huachipato.


Kev said...

"Bwawls" makes a lot of sense, actually, since it makes the speaker sound like a...New Yorker.

bearbee said...


And why is this man grinning ?

AllenS said...

Holy bwawls, bearbee, that was funny!

garage mahal said...

I say lay them out on the table - McCain and Obama - whoever has the biggest balls gets the Presidency. For McCain that would be like finding the only two raisins in a box of Raisin Bran though.

XWL said...

So, what Obama needs to do is unleash his inner "Chef" on an unsuspecting public and sing this little ditty at a public event.

vbspurs said...

For McCain that would be like finding the only two raisins in a box of Raisin Bran though.

Are you kidding?! (I almost wrote nuts)

Have you EVER seen an old guy's balls? They're as long John Kerry's face!

McCain would win by just popping one of those puppies out.


Maguro said...

For McCain that would be like finding the only two raisins in a box of Raisin Bran though.

You're thinking of the Governator. He still hasn't recovered from his bodybuilding career.

garage mahal said...

Have you EVER seen an old guy's balls?

You got me Victoria.

Roger J. said...

This proves Garage is an ageist--You might go on webMD to find out what happens to testicles as a man gets older. But don't let a stereotype stand in the way of facts!

amba said...

Interesting: I just naïvely thought the cartoon was brilliantly funny. But some of my sharp commenters point out that it is clever propaganda, the real target of which is not the Obamas at all but any and all of their conservative critics, who are indirectly depicted as nativist yahoos.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Have you EVER seen an old guy's balls? They're as long John Kerry's face!"

OMG. I almost sprayed diet Coke on the screen.

vbspurs said...

I almost sprayed diet Coke on the screen.

Hope you chugged it down!

RedStateUpdate does Obama's Balls

Coffee-coloured bean bags. LOL...

garage mahal said...

I conceded the point. Learn something new every day I guess.

I haven't noticed anything to date, and I'm 43.

Roger J. said...

Geez Garage--you are in the prime of your life (although it may not be obvious to you, but will be when you look back when you get to be my age). Granted its a bit counter-intuitive, but there it is. Kind of freaky, however, for Victoria to bring it up. :)

EDH said...

Obama: I was just a boy when the infidels came to my village in their Blackhawk helicopters. The infidels fired at the oil fields and they lit up like the eyes of Allah. Burning oil rained down from the sky and cooked everything it touched. I could only hide myself and cry as my goats were consumed by the fiery black liquid death. In the midst of the chaos, I could swear that I heard my goats screaming for help. As quickly as they had come, the infidels were gone. It was on that day I put a jihad on them. And if you don't believe it, then you'd better kill me now, because I'll put a jihad on you, too.

Terrorist: I like you. You have balls. I like balls.

bearbee said...

You have balls. I like balls.

Bon Appetit

blake said...

While I'm sure Victoria's interest in and knowledge of old men's testicles is purely socio-political, I'm nonetheless sure a few of the older commentariat's hearts got to racing just then.

John Stodder said...

Here's the name of an obscure baseball player you can say whenever you're in a bad mood. But you have to pronounce it like he would:

Hiram Bocachica

hee-RAM bo-ka-CHEE-ca

EnigmatiCore said...

Nothing compares to my Schweddy Balls. You just can't beat them.

nomilk said...

rhhardin: I'm surprised they didn't do the Eustice Tilly cartoon for Obama.

Been there, done that.

Greg Toombs said...

Maybe what the manly, modern passive/aggressive candidate needs is a replacement set.

Try Neuticals!

They don't have to be just for dogs anymore...

paul a'barge said...

Kevin Drum wishes he had a pair. Lacking that, he wishes he had a hot black babe such as Michelle.

No one with a brain bigger than a black eyed pea (oops excuuuse me, I meant African-American eyed pea) would accuse McCain of having no cojones, what with the man's history with the jailers of Vietnam.

Grow 'em, Kevin.

Seneca the Younger said...

What is this fascination with balls?

We're just very attached to them, Ann.

Sweating Through fog said...

Gee - I thought only Hillary was a victim of sexist language?

Helen Cadogan said...

Balls are fun, Althouse. They give us a chance to dress up and pretend to be grown ups. Oh, not those kind of balls. The dangly kind of balls are both figurative and real.

Metaphorically, Obama has no balls. If he had 'em, he'd know that you can't talk your way into everything. As Eli Wallach once said, while sitting in a bathtub with a cigar in his mouth, "when you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk." Obama doesn't understand that fine distinction. That's why he has no balls, even though he has balls.

vbspurs said...

I was in a bookstore cafe reading these comments above, howling out loud about my sudden notoriety.

(If you were at the Starbucks at Aventura Mall, and saw a crazy girl laughing, 'twas I)

Let me remind everyone that a mere 3 years ago I was a Med School student, and aged, pendulous male balls were no mystery to me.


blake said...

Of course, Victoria, daaahhlling.

I'm sure that wasn't a cover story or anything.

El Presidente said...

Is it irony that the point of the cartoon was to point out how vapid and racist the right wing are and the effect was to reveal how thin skinned Obama is?