Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Mad War on Bush


The Mad War on Bush (Paperback Book)
By The Usual Gang of Idiots, Introduction by Jimmy Kimmel

From the Portland Oregon Mercury Review:

"George W. Bush might be the worst thing to happen to America, but he's been the best thing to happen to MAD Magazine. MAD's been around for over 50 years, but the last time I remember it being funny was when I was 12. (And it's probably a good idea to take even that with a grain of salt—that was back when I thought Adam Sandler was the funniest man on the planet.) Settling into a lazy, familiar routine of spoofing blockbusters and regurgitating Spy vs. Spy, MAD ceased having any relevance or bite long ago.

That is, until George W. Bush got elected. Sure, MAD has made fun of previous presidents, but never before has a president offered so much to parody and mock—and never before has MAD gone after one with as much angry vehemence and surprisingly sharp wit. Sure, everyone from The Daily Show to The Onion has benefited from Bush's fuck-ups, but MAD's topped them all with intensity and nerve; some of the funniest, meanest comedy to result from Bush's presidency has been hidden in a magazine that no one reads anymore.

Luckily, The MAD War on Bush—boasting an introduction by, yes, Jimmy Kimmel—collects a good amount of MAD's Bush-related humor, both hilarious and middling. Some of it's easy and disposable, sure, but the jokes that hit are nothing short of excellent. There's a Where's Waldo? spoof set in post-Katrina New Orleans ("Where's W?"—and no, he's nowhere to be found amongst all the black people camping on roofs or wading through water). There's an Iraq-inspired list of "Desperate New Army Enticements to Get More People to Enlist," which includes dog-tag lotteries ("If your number matches the one drawn, you're guaranteed one of the Humvees with full armor") and a TV movie about your war heroics ("written by the same people who fabricated Jessica Lynch's war story"). And with a "Handy Glossary to the War on Terror," MAD defines "collateral damage" as "the official military explanation as to why there are so many empty seats lately in Umm Qasr's fourth-grade classrooms," and "hearts and minds of the Iraqi people" as "that stuff CNN and FOX don't show you, splattered all over the Iraqi rubble."

Wait—what? Somebody went there? MAD went there? That's awesome. By which I mean hilarious and depressing and true. When I put down my last MAD in junior high, I didn't think I'd ever say it, but the day has come—thanks, MAD."

More on the History of Alfred E. Neumann from Associated Content: The People's Media Company: "The origin of MAD Magazine mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, has remained a mystery for years. Long before MAD, his gap-toothed witless face was seen as early as the late 19th Century on patent medicine bottles and in the early 20th century in political propaganda. In fact, MAD was sued for copyright infringements in regard to prior usages of Alfred E. Neuman's image in 1914 and in 1936.

MAD Magazine's then editor Harvey Kurtzman claimed that he had "discovered" the Neuman face on a postcard that was tacked on a friend's bulletin board in the office of Ballantine Books.

Alfred E. Neuman's first MAD appearance was on the cover of a 1954 reprint issue.

While Alfred E. Neuman made some appearances inside the magazine, mostly in a bogus "advice" column, he has mostly appeared on the covers. By 1956, he had become the magazine's permanent mascot as rendered by artist Norman Mingo. Like the Bunny on the covers of Playboy Magazine and the monocled sophisticate on the covers of The New Yorker Magazine, Alfred E. Neuman has appeared on the covers of MAD in many different guises from Santa Claus to our current president, George W. Bush.

When he first appeared in MAD, Alfred E. Neuman was known by many other names from Melvin Cowznowski to Mel Haney to simply "The What Me Worry Kid." It was said that the origins of the character's name came from a character on satirist Henry Morgan's radio show. In an interview, former editor Harvey Kurtzman said, "He (Henry Morgan) was using the name Alfred Newman for an innocuous character that you'd forget in five minutes. So we started using the name Alfred Neuman."

His "What, me worry?" catch phrase changed once to "Yes, me worry!" after the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor accident in 1979."

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