Best Of The Web
“Mad magazine is on life support, and I can’t say I’m either surprised or all that sad about it. DC Entertainment announced last week that the satirical magazine will stop publishing new content. It was like hearing about a beloved old relative who passed away: I hadn’t had any meaningful contact in years, but had fond memories of when we were still close.
For me, that meant during my pre-bar-mitzvah years, growing up in the 1970s. For a suburban kid binging on a diet of Saturday morning cartoons and grim, adults-only dispatches on the nightly news, Mad was a hoot — hilarious, irreverent, slightly risqué.
Today I am a man, and realize Mad was something more.
Many of the eulogies have focused on the political legacy of the magazine. The Denver Post once celebrated its “mid-20th-century history of bold political satire and anti-censorship court cases.” (In 1964 the Supreme Court refused to hear music publishers’ complaints over the magazine’s right to publish song parodies.) Others suggested that its mocking attitude influenced the ’60s generation to “question authority.” The Washington Post called it the “most influential magazine of the post-World War II era.”
Looking back on the old issues, I’m also struck by how political they were, with biting parodies of the 1960s “Establishment” represented by Richard Nixon, George McGovern and Henry Kissinger. An American flag poster from 1971 would still raise eyebrows today, reworking the pledge of allegiance into a bitterly ironic statement on American divisions, addressed to “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all, including kikes, wops, spics, niggers, WASPS, etc.”
Watergate, the Vietnam war, the “generation gap,” the civil rights movement: Mad translated the issues dominating the news of the day and the whispered conversations of my parents and their friends into a comic language we kids could understand.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."
"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."
"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."
"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."
"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."
"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."
"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."
"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."