Vanity Fair parodies New Yorker cover

Vanity Fair coverVanity Fair and The New Yorker, both Conde Nast publications and both in the same New York building, share a “a kind of affectionate rivalry,” according to VF editors. So after the recent New Yorker cover illustration of Barack Obama and his wife Michelle caused a furor in media and political circles, VF put together its own (online only) cover satirizing John McCain and his wife Cindy.

Some observers thought the spoof was too weak and didn’t work to point out the absurd, as it was too close to reality. One comment on reads:

The problem, of course, is that all the stuff about Obama on the NYer
cover is false to the point of ridiculousness, but the stuff about
McCain on this spoof cover is pretty much true, or close enough. He
really is old, he really is too close to Bush on some crucial policy
points. The Constitution on the fire is a bit much, but it’s not so
insane as “Obama is a terrorist.” So this satire of satire doesn’t
really work.

However, when the Obama cover emerged there were a few who felt it didn’t work as satire either.  Vancouver-based illustrator Grahame Arnould suggested that the original New Yorker cover just wasn’t funny. On the Needless to Say blog he commented:

In order to be successful as satire, a drawing such as this must have
context. To say that the American political scene is the context is
like saying the blue sky is context. It’s meaningless. Satire must have
irony and this drawing is completely literal. There’s no idea to get.
Of course it’s all made worse by the fact that 12% of Americans still
think Obama is a Muslim, so the cartoon feeds into some degree of
Mr. Blitt and Mr. Remnick got too close to the art and were blinded by
it’s provocative nature, much to the detriment of what they were
actually trying to achieve – rendering in stark relief how odious the
politics of fear really is. I know that New Yorker covers never have
contextual words on them but with some smart thinking, the editors
could have figured out how to make the art successful as satire.
Barring that, they should have abandoned this cover ‘idea’ altogether.

Meanwhile, a posting at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says VF “ripped off” a McCain cartoon it published a couple weeks earlier.