Saturday, 20 July 2013

Seriously, about that Rolling Stone cover I was initially dismissive of the “controversy” concerning the latest Rolling Stone cover because it originated from people making arguments like this: The cover of Rolling Stone was once reserved for the newest bands, the hottest singer-songwriters or the pop culture phenoms grabbing the country by the scruff of its neck. Christian Toto, the author of this one, strikes me as one of those “internet researchers” whose store of knowledge consists of ideas half-mastered and mistakenly remembered, the sort that require a quick search to “confirm” that Rolling Stone is “about” music. He has no personal connection with or real knowledge of the magazine and doesn’t desire any. This lack of intellectual curiosity is made manifest in the rest of his post, which consists of quoting “celebrities” like Ralph Macchio re-tweeting the sage words of “one of the creative forces behind HBO’s Entourage.” The limitations of such critics notwithstanding, they accidentally stumbled over a solid point. To quote joe from lowell: The picture they chose to make the cover of Rolling Stone looks too much like a rock star. It looks like a zillion Rolling Stone covers we’ve all seen. The graphic designers were clearly going for that “ordinary, attractive person is really a monster” effect that the text describes, but they picked the wrong pic. The photo doesn’t read as “ordinary, attractive person who might live next door,” but as “the latest pop star Rolling Stone wants to promote.” It gets in the way of what they were trying to do and muddles the message. They should have used a photo in which he looked a little goofy, or a photo of him at eight years old, instead. The criticism here isn’t that a lowly music magazine is breaking from routine and lionizing Tsarnaev — it’s an aesthetic judgment that acknowledges what Rolling Stone tried and failed to do. The difference, in other words, between conservative and aesthetic critics of the image is that only the latter are capable of correctly assessing its intent and judging its effectiveness. Conservative critics legitimately believe that Rolling Stone‘s trying to disseminate images of dreamy Islamic radicalism to impressionable American youths, whereas aesthetic critics can read the words beneath the image and understand that the cover fails rhetorically. I think Other Scott need not fear the progeny of strange bedfellows — this is just the most recent case of deliberate conservative misprision. They see what they want to, so when they look at the Rolling Stone cover, instead of seeing what’s printed: They see what’s politically convenient: The context is still technically there, but it’s rendered inscrutable by the controversial imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that all should become offended by a universal flaw.” Defining the entire cover down to Tsarnaev’s self-portrait — treating it as if the words didn’t exist — allowed conservatives to circulate an ahistorical and acontextual version of it that’s offensive to everyone. Much like the fight between Trayvon...
Heh. Ha heh ha, heh heh ha, hold on now -- let me, heh, catch my breath. He drew a -- a what? Ha heh, heh, ha heh heh ha, heh, indeed! Thank you, National Review Online: For this “cartoon” demonstrating that George Zimmerman’s acquittal is analogous to the legacy of white-on-black violence in America because Al Sharpton is a knotted oak. Only a racist would look at that and think it referenced something so vile as a lynching. Those noosed truths — like someone else we know — don’t even have heads. For all we know they’re wind chimes in their Sunday finest. Only a racist would notice that they’re headless necks from root to wick, because only a racist would associate something as basic to the human condition as fire to the history of racism in the United States. Without fire generations of Americans of all races would’ve frozen to – – and I can’t do it. Michael Ramirez’s “Lynched” serves a single purpose: to allow the overwhelmingly white readership of NRO to believe that the imagined lynching of an abstract value is morally equivalent to the actual lynching of actual human beings. Because it’s been a long time since white people could really enjoy an image of a lynching. Some of them probably thought the day would never come again. But thanks to Michael Ramirez, white readers of NRO can stare with childish wonder at the shapes of men dangling from a limb and feel glee instead of having to fake guilt. UPDATE: I can't believe I forgot this! It's only like my favorite scene in Maus: Ha heh heh! Heh heh ha heh! Ha ha heh ha heh!

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