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Posted at 03:36 PM ET, 09/27/2012

Netanyahu and the Looney Tunes bomb


Netanyahu addresses the U.N. General Assembly. (STAN HONDA - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Speaking to the U.N. General Assembly about the need for red lines on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew an actual red line — on an actual cartoon bomb.

I’m a fan of literalization-of-concept jokes, which explains why highbrow humorists shun me in punch lines, but people seemed to feel that this was over the limit.

“Netanyahu's bomb cartoon is the Middle East equivalent of Clint Eastwood's chair,” tweeted Jeffrey Goldberg.

There seem to be two lines of thinking about this.

Was this a poor choice of a ridiculous-looking, over-simplified bomb cartoon, created decades before the invention of the Internet by someone who had a limited understanding of bombs? Or was it a calculated choice of a ridiculous-looking, over-simplified picture, created decades before the invention of the Internet by someone with a limited understanding of bombs — in order to create the one indelible image of the afternoon that everyone would be talking about?

It’s a mouthful, either way.

If this was on purpose, it was brilliant. If this was not, it was — silly is putting it mildly, and an insult to comics artists everywhere.

Or, as Jeffrey Goldberg noted, “With all the Jewish comic book talent out there, he had to draw a Wile E. Coyote bomb?”

My general assumption is incompetence wins every time over planning. It’s never Devious, Brilliant Planning That Understood Talking To A Chair Would Go Viral. As Clint Eastwood told the Carmel Pine Cone, he just sort of saw a chair and grabbed it.

This is the kind of bomb that only men with mustaches are allowed to throw. It violates this bomb’s contract that there are no train tracks or Looney Tunes characters visible in the shot, and that it is surrounded by three-dimensional people in color.

This is not even a Clip Art bomb. This is a Wingding.

Then again, why are we talking about this? This was a forty-minute speech, and everyone’s fixated on the graphic design component?

Well, it’s easy and there. When you have to critique a speech, there are two approaches: try to step back and see the whole thing, or alight on one moment that anyone who made it out of kindergarten intact can argue about. The best is when you insist that the latter is the only intellectually coherent thing to do. “I’m skipping most of these minutes,” you say, “not because I did not watch them, but because it was all there in the bomb.” Forget close reading. Skip the text. Let’s talk about the graphic. My four year-old could have made one of those! In MS Paint!

By  |  03:36 PM ET, 09/27/2012

 
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