Chris Ware shares the thinking behind his lovely "two moms" Mothers' Day cover for this week's "New Yorker"
"[L]aughing at [Archie Bunker] allowed one to take the first step towards changing one's own biases, whether one knew it or not. . . . Fortunately, we humans are incessant editors, never happy with the first draft of anything."
-- Chris Ware, writing about his "two moms" New Yorker cover
This exceedingly cool Mothers' Day cover is the work of graphic novelist and longtime New Yorker cartoonist-artist Chris Ware. Evidently Chris has been thinking about the way we humans "edit" the stuff we think, as he notes in the "Cover Story" he posted on the magazine's "Culture Desk" blog:
As a kid, my grandparents, and millions of other viewers rarely missed an episode of the television program "All in the Family." For those too young to know, Norman Lear's aboriginal must-see TV hilariously highlighted the friction between the nineteen-sixties' "progressive" generation and their parents via the bigoted, but strangely lovable, character of Archie Bunker. I suspect most of its viewers shared more in common with Archie's prejudices than they wanted to admit, but laughing at him allowed one to take the first step towards changing one's own biases, whether one knew it or not.
I like to imagine that my grandparents were always progressive, tolerant people in favor of things we now take for granted, but I know that's probably wishful thinking. I'm not even sure about myself in this regard. Fortunately, we humans are incessant editors, never happy with the first draft of anything. This tendency towards revision can cause problems, though. For example, most memories I have of my daughter as a baby have been systematically and irrationally replaced by a mental image of how she appears now -- an eight-year-old -- because I simply can't believe she was ever so small. In fact, when she was born, one of my friends, while cradling her fragile seven pounds, couldn't believe it then, saying, "God, why don't we just die the second we're born? We're so delicate and vulnerable!" My wife's mother, who was visiting, didn't miss a beat: "It's mothers, honey. It's our job to make sure that never happens." Well, score one for Moms, I thought.
Now that the numbers are in on same-sex marriage, many Republicans are falling like dominos all over themselves to express their support for something that only a few months ago they steadfastly claimed to stand against. They'll probably soon claim that this is how they felt all along, and they were simply too hamstrung by politics to be able to say what they really meant. Well, okay. In the spirit of openheartedness and what life is really all about, I'll go so far as to say that the fear of others may mask some deep-seated desire to understand, and maybe even to love. Because really, what is there to be afraid of? Few people today don't know -- or have in their families -- at least one loving couple who are raising children, same-sex or not. And it's really just the loving part that matters. That same-sex marriage could go from its preliminary draft of "diagnosable" to the final edit of "so what?" must indicate some positive evolution on the part of the larger human consciousness. My wife, being a biology teacher, puts it even more succinctly: "Why are all these people so worried about who everybody else is sleeping with, anyway?" (Score two for Moms.)
So, a final draft: happy Mothers' Day, moms. We are grateful to, and love, you all.