Monday, August 3, 2009

Picture Of The Day

Apparently these Obama-as-Joker posters have been popping up anonymously all over Los Angeles lately, ostensibly as some sort of attempt to portray the demonization of the president as another type of "grassroots" movement. Photoshopping him to look like one of comic fictions most nefarious villains is obviously meant to be some kind of smear (make up; get it?) but the message that the artist is trying to convey seems to be a bit muddled:

As if it isn't enough to equate President Obama to a sadistic, murdering terrorist, a more typical charge of socialism is made in the bottom of the Obama Joker poster. Nothing more specific is spelled out, and no one as of yet has figured out where these posters come from, or who made them.

If President Obama isn't called a socialist once every day, then it is a day where his opponents must be busy taking a nap. The Obama Joker poster is a new tactic, however, albeit small time. But using the Joker to paint Obama as a socialist isn't really that accurate at all.

The Joker was many things, but was hardly a socialist. In fact, the Joker is the polar opposite of a socialist, and anyone who watched The Dark Knight would know that. Socialism is the result of an all powerful central government that runs every aspect of life - but the Joker subscribes to anarchy, one of socialism's polar opposites.

If the Joker was a socialist, he would be destroying Gotham in the name of an all powerful state. Instead, the self-described "agent of chaos" nearly brought down the state itself, and all of its most cherished institutions, so that nothing could bring order to Gotham.
As stated above, communicating a coherent political message doesn't seem to be the actual objective here. For many of Obama's opponents merely painting him up as a domestic terrorist and mindlessly calling him a Socialist is message enough. They know what they mean, a skillful grasp of the English language and the ability to effectively use symbolism is not required to make their point. Admittedly, it's not quite as subtle as portraying him as a voodoo witch doctor with a bone through his nose but we can't all be Vincent Van Gogh or Karl Rove, can we?


[Update: Sullivan has this to add when the irony of Obama in white face is brought up by one of his readers:
It's graphically striking, but politically obtuse. The Joker is a wild man; Obama is no-drama; the Joker is an anarchist; Obama is a community organizer. Obama's careful politicking, his almost painful resistance to emotionalism, are worth lampooning, because they at least show an understanding of him, which is essential to successful mockery. But portraying him as an anarchist white terrorist recently made famous by Heath Ledger? To prove what exactly? Or is even asking for a reason at this point a silly thing to do?
It is indeed silly, in my opinion. I am of course all for freedom of expression and First Amendment rights so I see no need to do anything other than mock the obvious lack of a message here because the sole intent is obviously merely to try to insult Obama and his policies. The guy who made these wouldn't know actual "lampooning" if Clark W. Griswold sat on his face.]


Anonymous said...

I'm no defender of Bush, but I am against hypocrisy wherever I see it. This outrage over these posters is absurd. Last July, no one seemed to mind when Vanity Fair published essentially the same picture only using Bush as the subject. In fact, one can find hundreds of disgusting drawings of Bush from his time in office. I guess back then it was acceptable commentary and political satire. Today it's called "mean spirited and dangerous". Give me a break. Incidentally, the same artist responsible for the Obama "Hope" poster also drew a cover for the LA Weekly depicting Bush as a blood-thirsty vampire.

JBW said...

Anon, I don't think my commentary on this could be labeled as "outrage". My main point is to call attention to the inconsistency of the artist's message (or lack thereof), not to condemn his work or his right to produce it outright.

I've seen the Bush-as-Joker picture and I agree that he has been portrayed similarly on several other occasions but you will be hard pressed to find any of those depictions here so I fail to see how your charges of hypocrisy apply to myself.

And while we're on that note: How many of those depictions of Bush were done within his first six months in office? Now whether you think that those parodies, smears if you will, were warranted one must acknowledge that the American people have many legitimate gripes with what that man did (and did not do) over the course of his eight years in the Oval Office.

When you compare that with the relatively short period of time that Obama has been at the helm I think that the current level of vitriol on the right over his every action since taking office is extremely excessive and unwarranted.

Maybe he will fuck up as badly as Bush but he should at least be given that chance before he is condemned and vilified at the same level and rate. Less than three months into his first term conservatives were already definitively calling him the worst president ever. Three months.

And speaking of hypocrisy, those same conservatives sat idly by and gave Bush free reign to spend as much as he could and run up huge deficits for eight years and in all of that time I never saw tea party ONE, nor did I see them standing up at Bush's pre-screened town hall meetings to shout him down for his profligate spending as they're doing to Democrats today.

Next time, I suggest that you get your facts straight before you come here and shoot your mouth off anonymously. You'll sound smarter.