When Jokes Bomb

Much ado about the New Yorker's "terrorist fist jab" cover in both Salon and the NYTimes today: the Salon article insists that "Rush Limbaugh is right": that liberals have lost their sense of humor, while the NYTimes story suggests that Obama is somehow magically off-limits for criticism, probably because of his race.


All of this glosses over the fact that the cover wasn't funny. When a joke is funny, even if it's tasteless and terrible, people laugh. See the continuing success of The Family Guy or South Park: both huge hits with liberals, who, like me, often laugh at something and then shake their heads and go, "oh, that's terrible"... but they still laugh. With this cover, no one laughed. It just wasn't funny. Quit trying to "blame the audience" because your joke bombed. Or "explain the satire" when the satire clearly didn't take. Instead, like a good comedian, you learn your lesson, adjust your material, and move on.

I might also suggest, especially to those interviewed in the Times who feel that all media outlets must be equal-opportunity criticizers, that it defies logic to suggest that all parties in all situations are equally deserving of critique. This idea that if you do a McCain joke you've got to do an Obama joke too -- why? What if McCain is being funny and Obama isn't? Shouldn't we make humor out of people when they deserve it, and not just "because they're there"?


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