|“Hip Hops,” by Peter de Sève.|
Over at All About Beer, editor John Holl has a roundup of some of the commentary (but by no means all of it). Most of the analysis focuses on the semiotics of the setting, which ticks off cultural symbols like a Census-taker noting down demographics: tats, flannel, beard, multiracialism, hipster hats, a snobby sommelier contrasted with a downscale burger, and on and on. It touches a raw nerve for many beer people--suggesting that working class, guileless, unpretentious old beer is being taken over by hipper-than-thou scenesters in Portland, San Francisco--and of course, Brooklyn.
But don't over-interpret it.
When they work, New Yorker covers are so delicious because they are are not didactic; they don't have an agenda. They just reflect something in the cultural zeitgeist and become a mirror. Recall six years ago, there was the famous fist bump cover. In much the same way, it ticked off symbols. Obama fans read it as delicious satire; his foes saw it as a take-down of the wannabe terrorist-in-chief. (And a lot of people were just angry that the slant wasn't clearer--they weren't sure who to be mad at.)
In much the same way, some people love what the current cover has to say, and some don't. Having been a subscriber for 15 years, my belief is that it doesn't have anything to say. Good covers capture a moment in time, spark recognition and humor, and induce the reader to pick up the magazine. They remain enigmatic for a reason--an obvious cover is like a bad pun. Don't overthink it, just enjoy.
A final comment (update).