Cultural Commentary: “The New Yorker” and The Fat Cats — Teaming Up

Yes, The New Yorker cover pillories the superrich as they ignore the pixie proletariat at their feet. But so what?

By Bill Marx

At times, the political schizophrenia of the liberal media, at its higher echelons, is so blatant it becomes painful. The cover of the October 22 issue of The New Yorker (to the right) sent me over the edge. It is a variation on the venerable stereotype of fat, stogie-smoking uber-rich types satirized in films and magazines over the past century. The attack on the cartoon from the right was predictable. David Boaz, at the conservative Cato Institute, raises the all-too-obvious point. The ads in the issue have been paid for by fat cats to tempt the oversized wallets of other fat cats: “Gucci, Fidelity Investments, Gemfields, Northern Trust, Big Pharma, Mastercard Black Card, First Republic Private Wealth Management, Ocean Reef Club, Swann Auction Galleries, Suntrust Private Wealth Reserve, Ike Behar, Wells Fargo” The writer comes up with an amusing kicker:

… on the flip side of this cartoon mocking rich men in suits, as economist Lawrence H. White noted on Facebook, is a two-page spread advertising made-to-measure suits from Giorgio Armani.

Who was it who first said, “Think left, live right”?

But Boaz doesn’t see that what is going on from a cushy liberal point of view. It is “proclaim left, market right.”

Yes, The New Yorker cover pillories the superrich as they ignore the pixie proletariat at their feet. But so what? The corpulent images of these corporate giants are buffed to a diamante sheen via full page color ads in the magazine. Wells Fargo, in hot water yet again because of accusations of financial skullduggery, bought a hunk of pricey space to assure us that “YOU’VE GOT AN EXPANSION ON THE HORIZON. OUR PERSPECTIVE CAN HELP YOU SEE WHAT IS AHEAD.” “We’ll help you build the future,” extols the bank-too-big-to-fail (and jail). Big Pharma isn’t paying big bucks to hosanna its wan efforts to curtail a nation-wide opioid addiction crisis it set into motion (through lots of advertising). Instead, the corporate giant asks us to admire its efforts to battle breast cancer. “It is the future of medicine. For all of us” — the statement sounds like an order that can not be questioned  That shared note about corporate management of the future is revealing — the fat cats are not going anywhere. The ads are emblems of their confidence.

The above cartoon is an attack on fat cats in the The New Masses, a Marxist magazine closely associated with the American Communist Party whose heyday was in the ’30s. However harshly you come down on the moral/political failings of this and other far left publications, when they attacked the well-heeled their finance companies didn’t purchase ads. If anything, the powerful did what they could to make life harder for dissident publications.

But these days stands against corporate arrogance are made by elite liberal rags with no expectation that sacrifices will be required. It is all about the win-win. Why should Big Pharma and Wells Fargo fear The New Yorker? Yes, the magazine’s political coverage is waking up admirably after a period of slumber. But things will even out as long as the fat cats can buy a sweet piece of the upscale demographic action with their marketing budgets, no doubt fattened up by the Republican tax cuts for the 1%.

Bill Marx is the editor-in-chief of The Arts Fuse. For over three decades, he has written about arts and culture for print, broadcast, and online. He has regularly reviewed theater for National Public Radio Station WBUR and The Boston Globe. He created and edited WBUR Online Arts, a cultural webzine that in 2004 won an Online Journalism Award for Specialty Journalism. In 2007 he created The Arts Fuse, an online magazine dedicated to covering arts and culture in Boston and throughout New England.

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