‘The New Yorker’ does indeed think of itself as the establishment’s elite magazine. Serious. Erudite. No flashy photo-journalism; instead their very own sophisticated cartoons. And while the literati write and read this celebrated periodical, often it’s mostly those cartoons that have made its reputation.
One this week helps illustrate that, although I’m here to report its clever punchline had already been used more than 40 years ago. It’s a touring couple looking out on some exotic scenery as the wife waves her ever-present phone-camera exclaiming: “Here just look at the picture of what we’re seeing!”
Clever, pointed, a salty reminder of how our obsession with virtual reality is getting in the way of actual reality. The father of virtual reality himself, Marshall McLuhan, was telling another version of the same story back in a 1968 conference where I first met him and his cinematic fan Woody Allen. To make the point long before everyone really got the point, he shared the story of friends who were visiting him at home. They remarked about his beautiful children playing in the backyard, when McLuhan smiled wrly and said: “Oh, but you oughta see their pictures!”
Get it…? Now try to remember it….! Even if you do love your phonecamera and ‘The New Yorker.’
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