Is there a media double standard?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A cover of the liberal-leaning New Yorker magazine has come under fire for bad taste. It shows Barack Obama dressed in Muslim attire and Michelle Obama dressed as a terrorist.

Ironically, the critics share the liberal-leaning tendencies of the magazine they are criticizing.

We don't get it. Oh, we get the cartoon, which satirizes the stereotypes held by a certain segment of the population. The critics of the cartoon also understand it but fear that the cartoon will fuel stereotypical images of the Obamas, despite the intent of the artist.

We regard the cartoon as mildly amusing. Just because it got much more attention than the magazine expected, that should not impose an artificial requirement for it to be more than mildly amusing.

What we don't get about the controversy is why an aversion to this kind of satire should surface now that satire of bigoted stereotypes has been part of the American culture for more than three decades.

In the 1970s, such television shows as 'Saturday Night Live' and 'All in the Family' pioneered portrayal of words and images that would be offensive to people who didn't understand the satirical nature of the material.

It is true that some people who shared Archie Bunker's bigoted viewpoint found him to be a sympathetic character. This only serves to show the limitations of satire in changing established opinions. People tend to see and hear what they want, despite the intentions of a writer, artist or producer.

We still feel that satire is a valid form of humor, whether it is put forth through a broadcast medium or print medium.