This week's New Yorker boasts (cue hyperbole) one of the best covers of any magazine ever:
The image of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in this comic is, in itself, not that funny. Perhaps some laughs can be gleaned from the flag-waving, chest-thumping patriots out there -- how many of them read the New Yorker, I wonder -- but the gag of a reviled world leader on the john is way too simple and broad for the New Yorker.
Ah, but then that sneaky sandaled foot creeps into the bottom right of the cover, touching Mahmoud's loafer oh so seductively. Is it Larry Craig of Idaho, the off again, on again, off again, on again disgraced senator from Idaho who was caught maybe not caught probably solicitiing something that was sex or definitely nothing like sex from an undercover police officer during a sting entrapment stall stakeout in the Minneapolis airport? You know, because the foot gliding between stall partitions is, like, the code. Or something. Or is it just some average closet case American looking for a good time in a dirty, nasty public bathroom? Doesn't matter. The commentary in this cover on two of the biggest political issues in America -- Ahmadinejad's visit to New York and another republican getting caught pulling his pants down for another man -- is made hilarious by marrying them together. This is especially true in light of Ahmadinejad's implication that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
This cover, titled "Narrow Stance" and created by Barry Blitt, is biting, topical, irreverant, and incredibly funny. That scenario of the Iranian president in the toilet might not be a laugher, but the situation rises to high hilarity when you add in the punchline: Mahmoud, while in an American bathroom, is solicited for gay sex by someone who very well could be one of the very politicians condemning him on TV, in print, and on the radio.
Now that's funny. And, most importantly, nuanced. Anybody with half a brain can make easy jokes about Ahmadinejad on a toilet or being offered homosexual advances (see Jay Leno on any given night and the latest SNL Digital Short, respectively). Blitt and the New Yorker took the concepts, spiced them up with a little, and created a fine piece of satire with some lasting value.
A sidebar. The Oct. 8, 2007, cover is matched in its brilliance only by this one, from Feb. 27, 2006:
1) No wonder Dubya takes so many trips to Crawford.
2) That explains Cheney's obsession with hiding out in "undisclosed" locations.
(The cover is titled "Watch Your Back Mountain" and was created by Mark Ulriksen.)