NY governor Andrew Cuomo’s bizarre COVID-19 poster is not a parody

NY governor Andrew Cuomo’s bizarre COVID-19 poster is not a parody
Image: TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP via Getty Images

By Morgan Sung

No, this poster is very much real. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released this poster as a pat on the back for New York’s pandemic response. Drawn in the style of 19th-century political art, the poster tracks the “111 Days of Hell” — a phrase coined by Cuomo during one of his infamous press conferences — in a bizarre fever dream. 

We’ve all gotten a bit strange in quarantine, but few can match Cuomo’s energy. From unveiling a foam mountain meant to represent New York’s efforts to “flatten the curve” to accidentally praising the state in an unfortunate sex-positive acronym, Cuomo’s led the way through this pandemic with constant viral fodder. Much like the depicted curve peaking at a rainbow, this poster may be the peak of Cuomo’s tenure in office. 

“NEW YORK TOUGH,” the poster reads. “SMART, UNITED, DISCIPLINED, LOVING.” 

Other highlights include the “Winds of Fear” and “Subway Disinfectant.” 

Twitter users were especially confused by the “Boyfriend Cliff,” which depicts a young man dangling from the side of the mountain by one hand. Some speculated that it represented Cuomo’s daughter’s boyfriend.

the “Boyfriend Cliff” is when you date one of Cuomo’s daughters and he doesn’t like it so he draws you dying on a public poster pic.twitter.com/Ubq8m17veZ

— Katie Sicking (@KatieSicking) July 13, 2020

But after celebrity chef and internet personality Chrissy Teigen questioned the “Boyfriend Cliff,” Cuomo assured Twitter users that “We do like the boyfriend.” 

“All boyfriends face a steep climb,” he added.

The poster also depicts a dig at Trump, who appears to be perching on a crescent moon next to the words “It’s Just A Flu.” The president was criticized for inappropriately comparing the coronavirus to influenza, despite predictions that the coronavirus is far more deadly. 

But for the most part, people were incredulous that this piece of art exists. 

This will be on an AP US history exam someday

— William Messick (@WilliamMessic13) July 13, 2020

Can New Yorkers buy this poster — perhaps for charity for front line workers, fund PPE, etc? ❤️❤️❤️

— Gwen Flamberg (@Gwen_UsBeauty) July 13, 2020

I thought this was fake for a little bit but apparently not.

Like that painting at the start of Midsommar, in some ways. But shitty. https://t.co/c9guE9IG8t

— Charlie Stolz (@Charliestolz) July 13, 2020

It isn’t the first time Cuomo has been inspired by antique political art. His office commissioned an inexplicably nautical-themed poster in January to celebrate…himself. Highlights included the octopus of intolerance and “The Squalls of Hate.” 

I just really want to make sure that people taking in Cuomo’s NYS COVID poster today aren’t sleeping on his previous NYS politics poster, which is the superior artwork because of the Kraken labelled “Intolerance.” pic.twitter.com/2wZ6ec87W2

— Rachel Riederer (@readerer) July 13, 2020

Rusty Zimmerman, who painted the early poster, clarified that he was not commissioned to paint the Boyfriend Cliff. 

Folks— Somebody had a great time making the latest @NYGovCuomo #covid #poster, but the covid mtn. poster is not mine. I painted the 3 prior posters, incl. THIS 2020 poster featured here:

thanks for all the inquiries, and the appreciation for poster art at large.

— Rusty Zimmerman (@RustyZimms) July 13, 2020

But why does Cuomo keep commissioning mythological posters of himself? What’s with this thing for 19th century art? What, exactly, is a Boyfriend Cliff?

The world may never know, but at least we do know that we are supposed to like the Boyfriend. 

XL subscribe to our newsletter banner

Get the latest news and advice on COVID-19, direct from the experts in your inbox. Join hundreds of thousands who trust experts by subscribing to our newsletter.

Send your news and stories to us news@climaxradio.co.uk or newstories@climaxnewsroom.com and WhatsApp: +447747873668.

Before you go...

Democratic norms are being stress-tested all over the world, and the past few years have thrown up all kinds of questions we didn't know needed clarifying – how long is too long for a parliamentary prorogation? How far should politicians be allowed to intervene in court cases? To monitor these issues as closely as we have in the past we need your support, so please consider donating to The Climax News Room.