This cartoon recently sparked a lively debate on The New Yorker’s Facebook page between those who felt it slighted Italian heritage, and those who felt like cartoon editor Bob Mankoff, that it was “an adult appreciation of absurdity”.
Click-through for more from Bob Mankoff on why we’re able to enjoy derogatory jokes and disparagement humor: http://nyr.kr/LCcAxJ
Sorry, but this post at the New Yorker is wrapped up in a bunch of privilege. I don’t find this cartoon offensive, but I’m not Italian-American, either. I’d say Italian-Americans are probably seen by most people as white, but they do experience a bit of “othering,” too. This is only confirmed in Robert Mankoff’s shoddy defense: perhaps he should consider WHY the “default mob family is always Italian, even though that ethnic group has never had a mob monopoly.” I think there are compelling arguments to be made for “disparaging humor,” as the New Yorker calls it, as well as racialized humor. But this isn’t one of them—it basically parrots the same lines that have become standbys of racists, e.g. “Anyone with intelligence would get the humor in this.” Because, of course, if you don’t find the New Yorker's cartoons humorous, you must have a deficient IQ. Stay classy, Mankoff.